Taipei is the perfect base for kitesurfing trips. Indeed, within Asia, it’s probably the capital with the best kitesurfing conditions given good winds and its geographic position. The location in the north of Taiwan provides easy access to the western, northern and eastern shores of the country. The core wind season is during the north-east monsoon from October to March, but windy days of 20+ knots are not uncommon during the off-season summer period. Note that there is a brief rainy season in late May/June and that there are occasional typhoons during July-September which make kitesurfing impossible.
Although not absolutely required for all of the locations presented below, disposing of a car or scooter will be very helpful when organizing a kitesurfing trip from Taipei. Assuming that you do have a vehicle, several attractive kitesurfing spots can be reached within 1 to 1.5 hours from the city center. In addition, kitesurfing is not a very popular sport here, so you will have plenty of space and on the water and to setup equipment as beaches are rarely crowded. What follows is an overview of my five top spots kitesurfing spots around Taipei.
At just under an hour’s drive, the Red Beach is the closest spot from central Taipei. It’s located by the river mouth of Danshui (淡水 or Tamsui) river, on the left river bank in an area called Bali (八里), facing the Taiwan Strait. Danshui district (淡水區) is located on the opposite, right bank of the river and can be reached by the MRT (Danshui Station). I am told there is boat connecting the two banks. The site has an industrial feel as port cranes are not too far off and you can spot a factory or two once you are on the water. But otherwise the beach is wide with plenty of space and quite pleasant. There is a large flat water area closer to the river mouth once the tide starts falling. Perfect spot for the summer south-west wind. A local kitesurfing group operates basic shower facilities by the parking lot for members.
GuanYin beach is located in Taoyuan(桃園), about 1.5 hours drive from Taipei and about 20 minutes from the Taipei’s international airport. It’s a good spot with plenty of space and a nice surrounding (if you don’t mind the wind turbines) and suitable for kiting all year round.
DingLiao is about 1.5 hours away from Taipei by car. You will need to bypass the YangMingShan National Park on the south-eastern edge and follow the road to Yehliu Geopark(野柳地質公園), which features the iconic Queen’s Head (女王頭). The DingLiao beach is about two kilometers up the coast from the park. The views re great as the mountains meet the sea here. It’s best during the winter north-east wind season (October-March).
Baisha beach is a popular day-trip destination during the summer as it’s about 1.5 hours from Taipei. The name literally means “white sand bay” and it is indeed located in a large bay between two capes. It is suitable for kitesurfing during the winter months, when the wind blows from the north-east. There are a few cafes and snack bars by the beach and this spot can actually be reached by public transportation. You must first take the MRT to Tamsui station and then bus 622 or 623 (slower), or 1261, 1262, or 1263 (which are long-distance and faster). You have to alight at the Baishawan stop (白沙灣) and you can already see the beautiful bay.
Neipi is possibly the best spot in northern Taiwan during the off-season summer moths (beach is south-facing), although it’s relatively far away from Taipei as you will need to drive for about 2.5 hours. It’s in the town of Su’au, which has an large fishing port and an impressive fishing market. The drive is well worth it – the bay offers great kitesurfing conditions and beautiful views. The trip to the nearby town of Dong’au (about 20 kilometers) provides great scenic views of the coast.
NeiPi(內埤) beach Live Webcam
Check out this live feed from this amazing beach below. See any kiters in action?
The entire coast of Taiwan is dotted with kitesurfing spot and even for the northern part of the island the list above is not in any way exhaustive. Outside of Taipei, I find the kitesurfing in Penghu deserves special attention – especially if you are not afraid of strong winds (25-40 knots).
Perth is a very appealing city if you like blue skies, great beaches and friendly people. Indeed it is the sunniest city in Australia with 3’200 hours annually and temperatures in the summer are in the mid to high 20s range (celsius), while the sky is rarely stained with any clouds at all. It’s not just the amazing weather – there is also the great landscapes, long beaches, and river banks with easy access. The Swan river divides the city into the more urban northern part and the more residential south and there is a long stretch of beautiful, wide, sandy beaches. Finally, Perth is a windy city.
Wind season and conditions
The West Australian coastline has a strong seabreeze system from November to February. The breeze is thermally-driven and usually starts just after midday and lasts until the sun sets. On some days a few extra knots of wind kick in around 4pm. Wind speeds are usually over 20 knots with a steady – almost constant – blast. Most people use 8m2 and 10m2 kites and larger kites are usually not required. Most kiters wear a thin wetsuit, but it’s not a must if you’re not too sensitive.
Most people use 8m2 and 10m2 kites as wind speed is usually above 20 knots
There is a wide range of available sites for wave riding as well as flat-water lagoons, perfect for twintip boards and free-style, with beautiful surroundings. I can’t think of another large city with comparable conditions for kitesurfing and other watersports. As a result many locals practice kitesurfing regularly here – the spots get busier on weekends and after work on weekdays.
What about sharks?
There is no denying the presence of sharks in Western Australia waters. If you are paranoid about this risk, then choose another kitesurfing destination. However, the number of actual attacks is very low and other activities we regularly do (such as driving a car) are more likely to result in injury.
Selfie deaths outnumber deaths from shark attacks in Australia
In 2015 there were two non-fatal shark attacks in WA, while in 2016 there have been five (of which two fatal). By comparison, there are 50-60 road fatalities each year with hundreds more injured. The shark-risk is actually quite small, especially if you consider the number of beach goers, surfers and kiters in the ocean every day. Indeed since 2013 selfie deaths outnumber deaths from shark attacks in Australia. I have judged the risks relatively insignificant and went to explore the coast, seeking out four great spots. A video on he bottom of this post provides a quick overview of the four spots.
Leighton Beach / The Dutchies
Leighton Beach (sometimes also called “The Dutchies” or Mosman beach) is the stretch of beach around North Fremantle Station. To the south there is the Fremantle Port whose cranes can be seen in the distance, while to north there is another similar beach called Cottesloe. Cottesloe beach is popular amongst Perth residents for swimming, sunbathing, family picnics, beachside meals as well as watching sunsets.
Leighton is a popular public beach, just north of Fremantle port
Leighton Beach is a popular kitesurfing spot, but its clear waters and consistent waves also attract swimmers, body boarders, surfers and beachgoers with dogs who come to stroll here. However the beach is wide and not too crowded and there is plenty of space to setup your kite and lines. You’re kiting in the ocean, so the water is choppy but the waves are not very high and roll in rather gently – just big enough to have some fun. It’s not a spot for beginners (it gets deep and is a bit choppy), but neither is it a difficult spot. It is convenient and easily accesible from the city and relatively spacious. There is free and plentiful parking along Curtin avenue and you could even come by public transportation (the Fremantle line).
Melville Beach Road on Swan River
Melville is even closer to the city center than Leighton. Melville is part of an upscale residential area, with more than a few expensive houses overlooking the Swan river. In this area the swan river is lake-like and you won’t feel the current while the water is still. It’s also shallow, making it a good location for learning (I believe several local schools teach here). Given the flat water surface it’s a perfect place for pulling some jumps on your twintip board while admiring the city views.
Meville is practically in the city center, on the Swan river
There is free parking available along Melville Beach Road, and you can setup your kite a few meters away from your car by the water on the narrow strip of beach separating the road and the river. This location does get busy on windy days around 6pm as people come after work. The wind tends to be a bit more gusty than the seaside locations as you are more inland. Given the proximity to the city and convenient beach access from the car with a slightly different surrounding environment, this sweet-water spot is a good option.
Woodman Point is a small peninsula about 8 kilometers South of Fremantle – a charming and funky part of Perth with a bohemian vibe. If you are coming to kite at Woodman point, you will probably need your own transportation. The spot is about 1-2 kilometers from the main road – so maybe too long a walk from the bus stop. The great thing about Woodie is that it actually has three different beaches facing south, west and north – all within a short walking distance.
Woodman’s Point is a peninsula with three different beaches available for launching your kite
The beach facing south is mostly used by beginners and kitesurfing schools to teach. The beach in the middle facing west is a convenient launching point, and you could easily just stay there for a session. All three beaches are protected from waves by Garden Island, but it is the third, north-facing beach, that has super-flat water. It also a local pro-rider spot which is obvious on most windy days as you are able to admire some truly sick tricks.
Lancelin is not in Perth – it is a town two hours north. During our stay, it became apparent that the very best spots of Western Australia are actually north of Perth, and Lancelin is without a doubt one of them. After arriving from Perth, this small town was a welcome change – it felt very provincial. Indeed it only has a population of 500 or so.
Lancelin is a two-hour drive north of Perth, but it’s absolutely stunning kiteboarding spot
The spot is located at a large lagoon with crystal clear azure blue butter-flat water, and you also have the possibility of venturing out into the wave break. I suppose the only reasonable way of getting to Lancelin is by car, however once here, you cold do without your own transportation, as the town is quite small enough to walk around. Obviously activities outside of kitesurfing are more limited than in WA’s capital. On the other hand you will find some like-minded kiters here, and even more so on week-ends when people from Perth make a trip for some truly amazing kiting!
Penghu (澎湖) is a Taiwanese archipelago in the South China sea (also called the Pescadores – a name originally given by Portuguese explorers), located between the main island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. It is this location that makes it a particularly windy place, as the northeast monsoon winds get squeezed between the two landmasses into a tunnel. The islands receive surprisingly little interest from the regional windsurfing and kitesurfing community, however given the clean, unspoiled beaches and very predictable wind, this destination is well worth a visit.
On the way from the airport and frequently across the archipelago you will see a traffic sign warning vehicles (ie scooters and motorbikes) of strong wind. I had never seen such a sign, but took it for a good omen and I was not disappointed – Penghu offers truly amazing conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing !
Wind season and conditions
The wind season in Penghu is long and lasts from September until May. In September and early October typhoons in the region can make kiting temporarily impossible for two different reasons – typhoons hitting the island would make conditions too extreme, while typhoons passing in a certain distance can suck up all the air around them resulting in a few wind-less days in Penghu. But barring typhoons at the beginning of the season, there is almost always wind at the Pescadores – and usually a lot of it. Typical wind speeds in the 30-50 knot range and the kites used here are small – usually 6m2-8m2. Heavier kiters may occasionally need a 10m2 kite on light-wind days and light kiters may need a 4m2-5m2 kite on strong-wind days.
Water temperature is very pleasant in October and does not require a wet suite, the air temperature also remains warm (25 degrees Celsius or above). It is often sunny and a t-shirt and shorts are perfect attire. A wind-breaker can be handy for evening strolls given the incessant wind. All of this changes as the winter begins in earnest and in January/February a wet suit is indispensable for kiting as well as warmer clothes as temperatures are in the 15 degree Celsius range.
It is worth mentioning, that the wind high-season happens to be the low-season for tourism, so you do not overlap with the summer crowd. Prices of accommodation tend to be lower and plenty of options available. The island receives mostly Taiwanese tourists during the summer months (June-August) and only occasional travelers during the rest of the year. Indeed some shops and restaurants close completely for the winter months.
The Spots – where to kite?
Penghu is lightly populated and has over 90 islands and 300 kilometers of coastline. This stretch of coastline is full of opportunities and spots where you can just pump your kite and get going. I will cover 3 spots here, that I have tried and where you are more likely to meet other kiters.
Longmen beach (龍門沙灘) is probably the most popular spot for kiteboarding in Penghu and you can find a small group of 4-8 kiters and windsurfers here on most windy days. It is located in the east of the main island (thus receiving side-shore wind). From Longmen village you need to take very narrow but paved roads to the beach. This beach forms a kilometer-wide bay and is a perfect spot for riding waves and making jumps off the flat parts of waves or off the waves themselves. The best wave riding area with a long break is in the southern part of the bay, so you have to kite across the bay from the map marker to get there. There is a parking area and toilet in the middle part of the beach. This spot works well with a high tide. When the tide is low, a few rocks crop up on the sides and it becomes quite shallow (less than 1 meter), making potential falls and landings unpleasant. You can check tide times on this windfinder page. As of the time of writing the spot at Longmen had a simple self-launch kitehook that would allow you to launch the kite yourself if nobody happens to be around. The Sunrise BnB is located nearby (see the accommodation section for more details). A fair amount of wood and some trash litters this beach as it is thrown out by the sea regularly.
Baikeng beach (白坑沙灘) is another excellent spot if you prefer flat water. The long beach is protected from the north and the east and receives no waves. Make sure you come here during high tide, as it becomes very shallow and rocks come out of the water during low tide.
When coming from Magong on road 202 there is a turn left for QingLuo (青螺) a few hundred meters before Huxi (湖西) village – check out the exact location on the map below. The Liquid Sport Bed and Breakfast is located within a few hundred meters of this spot (see the accommodation section for more details).
Jibei Island (吉貝嶼) is the place for you, if you’re looking for an awesome, secluded and unspoiled place. It is a small inhabited island about 5 kilometers north of Baisha (白沙) – the northern-most part of the main bridge-linked island chain. A 30-minute boat ride from the Chi Kan Ferry Terminal (赤崁碼頭) located in Baisha takes you to this small island. You will arrive in the port of the only town on Jibei. There is a scooter rental shop and a few home stays (民宿). You will be rewarded for venturing so far by a spectacular 500-meter long sand bank in the south, which is suitable for kiting. There is also a flat-water area in the north-western part of the island as well as (untested) beaches with waves and onshore wind in the north-east. You are unlikely to meet other kitesurfers here on an average day.
Accommodation in Penghu
The key decision you will have to make regarding your trip to Penghu is where to stay. You can either stay at a Bed and Breakfast close to the kitesurfing spot or in town. The main town called Magong (馬公市) has a population of about 60 thousand, many nice local restaurants, and eateries – especially along the main street – a lively food market and a few nice areas for an evening stroll. It is a 20-25 minute ride away from the beach spots mentioned above (still further from Jibei of course), and in practice you will need a car to go kiting. On the other hand, the two BnB’s are a few hundred meters away from the spots (you will still need a scooter), but are in quiet villages with limited lunch options and even more limited dining options. Ultimately the choice depends on your priorities, the length of your trip etc.
In Magong there are several hotels (including a Sheraton) as well as many smaller BnB’s who have rooms for rent. For more information on bed and breakfasts in Magong I would suggest you google “馬公 民宿”, which will bring up relevant results. One hotel I can recommend is the Bowa (寶華大飯店) in the center of Magong on the main road overlooking the sea. It’s a mid-range, mid-sized, clean and well-run hotel with very nice reception staff who can also help with such things as car rental.
Regarding accommodation options close to a kitesurfing spot, I am aware of two BnB’s. The Sunrise B&B (果葉觀日樓) is located in the Guoye (果葉) village, about one kilometer away from the Longmen spot (see above). It is run by avid kitesurfers (daughter and father) who are on the beach on most days and you can count on their support when staying here. Equipment rental is available. You will need to rent a scooter and a small trolley (which you can attach to the scooter) to bring your gear to the beach. The nearest 7-11 shop and restaurant are in Huxi (湖西) about 2 kilometers away.
If you are a windsurfer or prefer to kite on the flat water Baikeng beach, you may consider the Liquidsport Penghu B&B (愛玩水民宿). The manager is a very experienced windsurfer and his associate has represented Taiwan at the Olympics in windsurfing not too long ago – they are the local authority for this sport. The Liquidsport is located on a small peninsula and you can potentially kite/windsurf on both sides of it. The nearest beach is around 400 meters away, but you will still need a scooter or car to reach the other beaches on the peninsula.
Other attractions in Penghu
Penghu is an exciting spot for Kitesurfing, but there are other free-time activities here that can keep you busy before and after the trip to the beach. In fact, the archipelago receives quite a few Taiwanese tourists in the summer months who come here to enjoy the relaxed seaside atmosphere, cycle or to enjoy local snacks and seafood. There goes a short list of various options we had a chance to experience:
Breakfast Alley: The locally famous breakfast alley in Magong (早餐街) is on Wenkang Street (文康街) and has several breakfast shops, some of which get quite busy in the mornings. Options on the menus include several kinds of fresh and warm Taiwanese savory pancakes (蛋饼), sandwiches ( 三明治), various types of burgers and in particular the Taiwanese pork burger called Guabao (刈包) as well as dumplings and soup. Most of these shops close by 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Aimen beach and Lintou park: Aimen beach (隘門沙灘) is a pleasant sandy beach in the south of the island. It is a favorite among locals who come here on week-ends to stroll through the Lintou park (林投公園) and for a drink at the Gilly Primavera (及林春咖啡館) coffeeshop, which has an outside area literally on the beach. The beach is appropriate for longer walks as no end appears in sight. There is also a camping site nearby.