Oftentimes, we sit back and watch other people do the things we often try to plan and try to pursue. For instance, seeing pictures of people climb Machu Picchu, and realizing this year we were too late to sign up. My wife, Sarah and I finally set up a trip to Turtle Island in Taiwan.
It had been a dream/goal of hers and so many members of a group called the “Taipei Hikers” to hike the 1,706 steps to the summit of the 401 meter volcanic island. It was a dream come true, and something that we had all envisioned and more.
The experience had brought on amazing stories, sweat, and pictures that were beautiful. We had accomplished just one more goal of our Taiwan bucket list.
Lets start off with a few facts and history of the island.
About the Island
Guishan Island or as to most people, Turtle Island, is an island in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Taiwan. It carries the one of the two active volcanoes in Taiwan. The island was at once, a spot for fisherman, but due to hardships and lack of ability to sustain living, the fishermen relocated. As of now, the island is protected for environmental reasons, and only a certain amount of tourists can visit at a time.
Getting to Turtle Island:
Like most people, we gathered a group of 16 hikers from the Taipei area to take our six-hour tour of Turtle Island. I was often humming the tune of Gilligan’s Island thinking we were just on a one-hour ride across the ocean to this tiny island with so many steps. Our goal was to climb 1,706 steps to the summit, which was about 401 meters above sea level. With the threat of torrential rainstorms on its way, we were determined to conquer this feat, take some photos, and eventually rest and eat.
Then we got ready for a wild rough ferry ride, with waves and tides that could make anyone a bit nauseated. Several of the members took pills to quench the feeling of seasickness as we sped through the waves just one rock of the boat at a time. Eventually, with a bit of ease, we had landed at our glorious destination, ready for the largest stair stepping hike I have came across. Like Po, from Kung Fu Panda had said, “Ah. My old enemy…stairs.”
The Journey to the Top:
Before taking part in this illustrious hike, our guides gave us two rules.
- Rule #1: Do not be slower than the group.
- Rule #2: If you are tired stop and take a rest.
As my friend Harrison noted “ Taiwanese rules can often be contradictory.” I did not understand the Chinese that much anyway, but I was determined to go at a good pace.
Our guide was a short bald man of middle age with a microphone around his neck. He carried a walking stick and established his authority as the number one person to the reach the top. (Unbeknown to him, we had 16 Taipei Hikers that were determined to reach the top in 50 minutes or less.)
As our guide started, we quickly took our lead talking about various subjects to keep our minds less focused on the heat and the many stairs. We were more focused on the continuation of the climb.
As we passed various different viewpoints, we tried our best to take advantage of the breaks and take numerous different photos of the lush vastness of beauty that this island had. It was something worth more than the 1000 words I am about to write, but we were fortunate to have clear skies, green beauty, and some experienced photographers. It was truly amazing to be the in the presence of so many gifted individuals.
Reaching the Summit:
Finally, as we started to see the skyline, we came around the corner to reach the summit. 1,706 steps in 50 minutes. We were speed walking. Essentially. A sigh of relief went across the group as we reached the summit. We then took a massive amount of opportunities to record our adventure with the many photos being taken from each angle. It was truly a sight to see, the beautiful greenness of the island, with the crystal blue water surrounding the exterior. We were truly blessed with great weather and an amazing experience.
It is truly a blessing to discover the vastness of the country of Taiwan. It is truly a remarkable place to adventure through. Turtle Island is just one of the many places that people should go out and see. For this experience to be great you just need a good plan, some good people, and pray for some great weather.
For Booking, getting there, and other vital information:
- Coming from Taipei, take the 1877 bus to Waiao Beach in Yilan. Cost for the bus is about $125NT ($4 USD).
- Cost for the Turtle Island tour is about $1600 NT (or $53 USD).
- Booked at lanwhale.com/travel.php.
- Meet at the harbor at 8:10 to board at 8:30 for a 6-hour tour.
- There is a limit of 1800 tourists on the weekend.
- Only 100 people can climb to the top of the steps each day.
- The earlier you sign up, the better.
- After you call the agency, they will need each person’s: Name, Date of Birth, ID number.
- They will only put your name down once the money is wired to them.
- Most agencies will need $500NT($15 USD) down payment for each individual.
- There may not be any English guides, or English agencies.
- People should apply for the permit 11-20 days before hand.