Taiwan’s North Coast: Fulong Beach

Taiwan’s north coast offers some spectacular landscapes and beautiful beaches. One of the most popular ones is Fulong 福龍, due to its close proximity to Taipei and the fact that it has its own train station. This makes it pretty fast and easy to take the train to Fulong from Taipei Main Station (details below). Since I was in Keelung 基隆 already, I took the coastal bus to Fulong instead. The landscape is really impressive (though not as impressive as Taiwan’s East coast once you get further South, or so I’ve been told), so if you have the time, this is something I can really recommend. Try to get a spot on the left side of the bus, which will be closer to the coast.

fulongtrainstationFulong Train Station: The local specialty is Fulong Bento Boxes*

The bad news: Fulong Beach has an entrance fee, and theoretically you’re only allowed in during the day: It opens at 9 am and closes around 5 or 6 pm, perhaps later during summer. The day that I went admission was NT$ 40, but this was off season and on a day when technically, people weren’t even allowed to enter the water. During peak season, the fee is NT$ 100-ish.

bridgeFulong Beach is basically one big sandbar, so you have to cross a bridge in order to get there

structures

Fulong has a sand sculpting event every year. It hadn’t started yet when I visited, but you can already see the stabilizing structures on the beach in preparation for the festival.

sand

sand2

Sand, sand, sand…

surfing

And a couple of surfers in the water**

fulongbeachFulong offers long beautiful stretches of sand. You can literally walk for miles.

fulongbeach2That said, if you leave the swimming  area, you will inevitably run into trash washed ashore, as only a part of the beach is cleaned regularly:

P1130587

There is also a small public beach right next to the larger beach if you’re trying to save money. If you ask anyone connected to the for-profit beach, they might obviously try to hide the fact that there is also a free beach from you, so don’t let statements such as “there is no public beach!” discourage you when asking for directions. It’s probably easiest to ask for directions for Dongxing Temple (東興宮), as the public beach is very close by. It’s much smaller though, and there is a chance it will be pretty crowded.

theothersideThe smaller public beach on the other side of the tidal creek, right next to Fulong Temple (the small yellow building at the foot of the hill on the upper left side of the picture)

It’s probably possible to swim across the divide between the public beach and the big beach on most days, but as someone who used to vacation on the Northern German island of Sylt with overprotective parents as a kid, I have a healthy respect of unfamiliar tidal channels and associated rip currents, so cross at your own risk. I wouldn’t do it. There’s also a good chance someone might try to stop you.

Like most other beaches on the North Coast, Fulong also tends to turn into a puffer fish graveyard once you venture outside the designated bathing zone that is kept neat and clean. Rumor has it that puffer fishes get caught up in fishing nets and are thrown back into the sea by fishers, which is how they end up dead on the beach en masse. Or perhaps there’s something else that’s killing them. I don’t know, and I’m not sure I’d want to know. In any case, they have spikes, so watch out you don’t step on them.

pufferfishDead puffer fish

On a probably unrelated note, Taiwan, for some reason, likes to build its nuclear power plants right next to its most popular beaches. Construction on Plant No. 4,  right next to Fulong Beach, was delayed after the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and again after the Fukushima disaster, so only parts of the nuclear reactor are in operation today. Read more about it on Wikipedia.

nuclearThere it is, on the left hand corner, in its semi-operational glory.

Cynicism aside, I think Fulong Beach is still very much worth the trip, particularly on a nice day off-season when the beach isn’t crowded, so here’s the basic info:

Where: On the north east coast of New Taipei City, south of Keelung

How to get there: By train from Taipei (ca. 1  hour and NT$ 99-130 on an express train; look up schedules and fares here) or by bus from Keelung (ask for the number at the Tourism Office at the train and bus station)

Entrance fee: NT$ 40-100

 

* Watch this video for an introduction to Taiwanese lunch boxes, biandang. I’m personally not a big fan of them, but they are reasonably priced meals that aren’t terribly unhealthy. If you come to Taiwan, you will run into them sooner or later.

** Read more about surfing in Fulong here.

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