Ocean Home to Huting & Jiqi Beach in Hualien
My friends were nice enough to let me sleep while they took one of our Van Life crew to the Hualien train station in the morning. She changed her mind at the last minute and rescheduled her plans in Taipei in order to stay for the entire duration of the road trip. I woke up at noon to dumplings and dan bing with an ice cold milk tea. Our minds were made up to drive down to visit Huting (the venue for Organic Festival), a scenic beach with a unique secluded location. Everyone slowly packed up our campsite and chatted with the other patrons staying at Ocean Home hostel.
Niushan Huting (牛山呼庭) – 20 km from Ocean Home to Huting
Driving down Highway 11along the East coast of Taiwan is like cruising through paradise. At Huting, after parking and paying the 50NTD entrance fee, we hit the beach for a quick dip and a walk around the grounds. Discussing our options of the best place to camp and where to take the van, we determined to stay the night at Huting but drive south to explore and make use of our mobility as a group.
Jiqi Beach 磯崎海濱 – 12 km from NiuShan Huting to Jiqi
A few other beaches dot the coast on the way, but we ended up at Jiqi Beach to investigate the cove. Sitting on the reinforced sea wall, watching the waves crash into the rocks, in the distance we could see a man in aboriginal garb posing for photos and doing an interview on the steps of the visitor’s center that houses a dried fruit market. A handful of wooden camping/shade structures are positioned on an embankment above the breaking waves. Sinks with running water at each campsite and convenient parking spots make Jiqi a perfect place for glamping.
We took a short hike up the nearby hill to a small cave shrine and made our way back to the van. But not before trying a local Taiwanese style sausage with fish eggs and fresh garlic cloves. That whet our appetites, and finding a restaurant with outdoor seating and a view of the horizon to feast and watch the sunset was in order. Highway 11 between Huting and Ocean Home are many options, and seafood certainly tastes better when you can see the ocean.
Our group of six travellers were the only guests staying at Huting that night and the curvy, narrowly paved road down to the valley property was pitch black when we got back. Building a fire and setting up our tents on a sandy dune next to another rocky beach earned us all a cold drink and a moment to rest, stare at the sky full of stars fading in and out as the low coastal clouds floated by, slowly accumulating. Around 10 p.m. it started raining, so we moved under a nearby covered shelter putting us as close in proximity as we had been previously for hours in the van. The fire kept burning despite the rain. Once the storm clouds passed, we gathered more wood, but stayed huddled together in laughter and conversation under the shelter. Monday was looming, so we went to sleep.
Taking the van for a getaway from Taipei and driving for a few hours each way to Hualien and back gave us all a sense of freedom. Road trips offer the flexibility to stop anywhere along the way, and really taste the flavor of Taiwan from the passing landscape out the window. The coast and mountains of Hualien hold so many magical spots that can be explored with Van Life. Discovering the best camping, beaches, and nature destinations is a breeze because we can bring along all the gear and toys that fit perfectly in the roomy backseat.