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::: Home > Backpacker > Watch dolphins and whales

Watch dolphins and whales

Watch dolphins and whales
Let’s start off from the Wushih Harbor!
photo The Gueishan Island is located off the coast of Yilan County, Taiwan. A landmark of the north-eastern town, Gueishan Island is embraced by one of the three largest fishing grounds in Taiwan—the Gueishan oceanic area, where dolphins and whales come for bountiful food along with the Kuroshio Current. Spring, summer and autumn are great seasons to take a dolphin and whale-watching trip at Gueishan. In addition, because a one-day trip is possible between capital city Taipei and Gueishan, many visitors have come here for the amazing oceanic experience.
A dolphin and whale-watching trip starts at the Wushih Harbor, which is 1.5 kilometers away from the downtown of Toucheng Township in Yilan County. Visitors may first take a train from Taipei and get off at the Toucheng Station, take a bus by Kuo-kuang Motor Transport, and get off at the “Wushih Harbor” stop. Please be noted that there are not many buses to the harbor daily, and it is therefore advised to take a taxi when buses don’t come round. Walking is also possible—it takes approximately 30 minutes to arrive at the harbor, but is not a good choice during hot summer days.
There is a visitor center at the harbor, which operates in conjunction with selected private boating companies to provide tourist services. Two types of package oceanic trips are available: dolphin and whale-watching plus visiting the Gueishan Island, or just a voyage on the sea. The first type of trip takes about 4 hours to complete, at NT$1,600 per person. The second is 3 hours, at NT$1,200. Visitors may choose between the two according to their budget and time.
Please also be noted that the Gueishan Island is only open to the public between March and November each year, and a limited number of visitors for each trip is applied. Foreigners must apply three days in advance if they wish to ashore the island, and bring their passports along on the date of visit. The Administration office will be pleased to offer more information on request.
As the reservation service for a Gueishan trip is only available in Mandarin at the moment, please kindly ask a hotel staff to make reservations on your behalf if you don’t speak the language.
Meeting dolphins around the mysterious Gueishan Island
photo1 Meeting with dolphins and whales depends on luck. It is said that, on the date of the trip, boating companies would set sail to the sea at 3 a.m. in the morning to check which areas have more dolphins. This will ensure an 80-percent chance of seeing dolphins later in the day. However, with whales, all can be done is to pray before hopping on the boat, as it is hard to predict where whales will go.
photo2  Just put on a life vest and hit the road, when all necessary procedures are completed at the visitor center. On a sunny day, under the clear sky and amid soft breezes, it is easy to spot schools of dolphins during the 30-minute trip. Amid the glittering sea waves, smooth-skinned dolphins gracefully swim. The dolphins always receive loud applauses from boat-trip participants when they jump high and dive back in.
photo1  The boat slowly approaches the Gueishan Island as dolphins continue to show off themselves. The volcanic island, as its name Gueishan in Mandarin suggests—“Turtle Mountain,” looks like a giant turtle on the sea, although it only covers 2.85 square kilometers of land.
The Gueishan Island was under special military control from 1977 to 2000, and therefore the scenery it offers is primitively beautiful. With a visitor center and visiting trails in service now, visitors may enjoy hiking on the island. The highest point of the island is 398 meters, and trips to the tip of Gueishan are available. Be prepared for a challenging trip, however, despite the indicated altitude is low.
photo2  Don’t worry about missing the beauty of nature if you choose a trip without mounting the island. The island, observed from on the sea, is breathtakingly beautiful with its verdant vegetation. The “oceanic sulfur spring” is another must-see, with yellow sulfur streams welling out from the bottom of the sea mingling with blue ocean water. Listed as one of the eight great natural sceneries of Gueishan, it is a unique geological wonder that cannot be found elsewhere.
Enjoy a hot spring bath at Jiaoxi after the boat trip
photo A seafood feast is a must-do after the oceanic trip. After the dolphin-watching activity in the morning, it is just the right time to enjoy delicious sea food for lunch. The Wushih Harbor Fish Outlet is equipped with sea food restaurants on the second floor. At the most reasonable price (NT$500 per person will suffice), you will get fresh fish and shell to eat. Processed fish products, available on the first floor, are perfect gifts for family and friends.
photo  It is recommended to take an afternoon walk at the nearby Jiaoxi Hot Spring Area, as it only takes 7 minutes by train from to get to Jiaoxi from Toucheng. Jiaoxi has been famous for hot springs since the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945). The Jiaoxi hot springs, classified as alkali sodium carbonate springs, are also called “Beauty Springs.” It is said that, even after a day’s tanning at seaside, people’s skin will become smooth as silk after they take a hot spring bath.
Hot spring facilities are everywhere in Jiaoxi. In particular, the Tangweigou Park, just 10 minutes by walk from the Jiaoxi Station, is featured by public hot spring pools, including a pool for “feet baths” and a large pool made of cypress wood. The price for a hot spring bath at the park is fairly cheap, at only NT$80 per person.
Feeling refreshed from a hot spring bath, it is time now to go home. To go back to Taipei, high-speed buses are the most convenient transport to take. The bust stop is on Jiaoxi Rd., with services provided by both Kalaman Bus (to Taipei Main Station) and Capital Bus (to MRT Taipei City Hall Station). A single trip takes roughly 50 minutes; after passing one of the longest tunnels in the world—the Hsueshan Tunnel, Taipei will soon be in sight.
  Travel itinerary
Taipei Main Station→Toucheng Station→Wushih Harbor→Dolphin Watching→Gueishan Island→Wushih Harbor→the Wushih Harbor Fish Outlet→Toucheng→Jiaoxi Hot Spring Area→Taipei
From Taipei Main Station to Toucheng Station
Take the eastern line of Taiwan Railway from Taipei to Toucheng. A single trip takes 90 minutes by Tze-chiang Express.

From Toucheng Station to Wushih Harbor
Take a bus by Kuo-kuang Motor Transport and get off at the Wushih Harbor stop. Taxi is another choice; it takes only 5 minutes to get to the harbor by taxi, and the cost for a one-way trip is around NT$150~200. Taxis here do no go by meter; please negotiate a price in advance. Walking is also possible; in 30 minutes you will be there.

From Toucheng to Jiaoxi Hot Spring Area
A train trip from Toucheng to Jiaoxi takes 7 minutes. The cost per single trip is NT$23 by Tze-chiang Express.

From Jiaoxi to Taipei
There are two options. Visitors may take buses from the Kalaman Bus at the cross section of Jiaoxi Rd. and Deyang Rd. A single trip takes 50 minutes and costs NT$104. Buses are available around the clock.
Capital Bus also offers bus services. A single trip takes 50 minutes and costs NT$90. The last bus of a day departing from Jiaoxi is at 23:40. The bus stop of Capital Bus is located at the front right of Tangweigou Park.
Hotel Royal Chiao His
No.69, Wufeng Rd., Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County 262, Taiwan
Tel: 03-988-6288
NT$ 4,600 per night

Lan-Yang Spring Resort
No.8, Ln. 24, Deyang Rd., Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County 262, Taiwan
Tel: 03-988-1111
NT$ 4,950 (with discount)

Prince Hotel
No.67, Sec. 5, Jiaoxi Rd., Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County 262, Taiwan
Tel: 03-988-2006
NT$ 1,600 per night
Wushih Port
The Wushih Harbor Fish Outlet offers a variety of seafood cuisine at No. 118-6, Sec. 1, Binhai Rd., Gangko Neighborhood, Toucheng Township. Tel: 03-978-2345.

Jiaoxi Hot Spring
Vegetables grown on cooled hot spring water, such as “hot spring tomatoes” or “hot spring water spinach,” can be found at most restaurants in Jiaoxi. At some of the hotel restaurants, special local cuisine is served.
  Fees (Budget)
Taipei Station to Toucheng Station NT$ 187 for Tze-Chiang Limited Express
Back and Forth between Toucheng Station and Wushih Harbor about NT$ 400 by Taxi
Toucheng Station to Jiaoxi Station NT$ 23 for Tze-Chiang Limited Express
Jiaoxi Hop Spring to Taipei NT$ 90 for Bus

Whale-Seeing Fees
Boarding at Gueishan Island about NT$ 1,600
Cruise around the sea about NT$ 1,200

Meal Fees
Seafood about NT$ 500 per person

Accommodation Fees
About NT$ 1,600

Total: 4,000
It is extremely difficult to take photos of dolphins while they swim. We advise interested visitors to use a camera or video camera with a continuous shooting function.
When going for a dolphin-watching trip, please watch out for the scorching sun. Wearing a hat or sunscreen is the best way to protect oneself from sunburn, and sunglasses and long-sleeve shirts should always be carried along.
Those who are prone to have seasickness are advised to take medicine in advance. We advise these people to sit in the front seats when they are on board. Sitting in the back may increase the probability of seasickness.
The dolphin-watching season lasts until autumn, which overlaps with the annual typhoon season. Visitors are therefore advised to check weather forecasts before embarking on trip.
  Other Information
Wushis Harbor Visitor Center

Tangweigou Park
No.99-11, Deyang Rd., Jizoi Township, Yilan County 262, Taiwan
Tel: 03-987-4882
Open: 8:00 a.m. – 24:00 p.m.
Free for Foot Spa
Public Pool NT$ 80 per adult
Along Wenquan Rd. from Jiaoxi Station and turn left when meeting Jiaoxi Rd., go straight ahead to the entrance of the park. 10 mins for walk.
Last Updated:2019-07-01 15:27