Presentation on theme: "Green Island lies some 18 miles off the southeast coast of Taiwan. On your trip south, clouds covering the capital of Taipei disappear, making way for."— Presentation transcript:
Green Island lies some 18 miles off the southeast coast of Taiwan. On your trip south, clouds covering the capital of Taipei disappear, making way for the warmth and color of the sun. Compared with dull northern Taiwan, the island is a sparkling paradise set in a deep blue sea.
The island has many diversions— submarine rides, boat trips, bicycle riding, hiking, fishing and camping— and makes a welcome change from the bustle of Taipei. But what really sets the location apart as a getaway destination is scuba diving and the saltwater hot springs.
The island has scuba diving sites on its north, south and east sides. To reach the sea, there are walkways that extend out from the beaches, over sharp rocks and coral, which provide jumping-off places for divers. The blue waters surrounding Green Island are filled with spectacular corals and an abundance of tropical fish.
As the island sits in the middle of the Japan Current, a nutrient-rich stream feeds a stunning variety of corals, sponges, together with an astonishing variety of fish, large and small.
The ocean bottom is covered with corals of all kinds. Transformed into a rainbow of bright color by the sun above, Green Island's 87 varieties of coral are even more remarkable than its sea life. A giant brain coral sits on the rocky bottom like a heap of melting ice cream, while undersea meadows of grass coral wave back and forth in the gentle current.
The ocean is also the source of another specialty—the Zhaori hot springs, one of the only three saltwater hot springs in the world (the others being in Italy and Japan). Ocean water, heated deep underground, leaks through the lava rock and wells up to the surface at a temperature excellent for hot spring resorts.
So far, the Tourism Bureau has built three pools, each with a different temperature. Because of the cooling effect of ocean water, the farther the pool is from the shore, the cooler it will be.
When the tide is high and the ocean stormy, the waves of cold seawater roll into the hot spring pools. At other times, the sea is distant and peaceful, the springs are calm and warm, and the gentle music of the ocean makes for a good, relaxing soak. The walkways around the pools are lighted in the evenings, and the baths are open until midnight. Places to spend the night vary in luxury and cost. The island has a camping area, several hostels, and hotels.
For those who prefer the land, the island, which is surrounded by an 11- mile road, is ideal for touring on rented scooters, bikes or cars. The first stop is the Green Island lighthouse on the northwest coast. Built in 1938, the lighthouse came a year too late to save the President Hoover, a ship that crashed and sank just offshore.
Scootering on down the road, you come to the Green Island gangster prison, home to many of Taiwan's best-known “big brothers.” Farther on is another prison that once housed hundreds of Taiwanese dissidents. This one, happily, is no longer in use. Near the abandoned prison stands Asia's first and only monument to human rights, an impressive sculpture with the names of the former prisoners inscribed on an elegant wall.
The next stop is Niutou Hill, where a walk across a green meadow brings you to a high cliff on the edge of the ocean. With the waves crashing onto the base of the cliff, Niutou Hill is a popular picnic spot by day, and a quiet lover's lane by night. Nearby is Guanyin Cave, where a small altar to the popular goddess is housed, and where the smell of incense fills the air.
Besides an abundance of fresh seafood, Green Island has famous dishes such as “green seaweed” and “little fish soup.” Another island dish is “goat meat pot,” a stew made from goat meat, ginger, cabbage and spices —a nourishing meal, said to provide strength and vigor.
The next day it's time for your trip home: a 10-minute flight to Taitung, a port city on the southeast coast, then a 40-minute plane trip, back to the bustle of crowded Taipei. Once again, the contrast makes Green Island seem like paradise; only this time, regrettably, it feels more like paradise lost.