Bitoujiao: Hiking to Taiwan’s easternmost point on land

Aerial view of Bitoujiao Lighthouse at the seaside of Keelung, Taiwan. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Waves crash against Taiwan’s coasts from all sides. The Pacific Ocean and the Taiwan Strait sandwich this island nation, carving out countless coves, caves, bays, and other geological formations that create wondrous points of solace and exploration.

The capes of Bitoujiao (鼻頭角and Sandiaojiao (三貂角) are Taiwan’s easternmost points on land in Taiwan whose onyx-colored rock has pushed out from the sea after millennia of tectonic convergence.  

Being so unfamiliar with the landscapes lying between the city of Keelung and Yilan County, I decided to take a trip to Bitoujiao with a group of hiking enthusiasts lead by the Singaporean dynamo QX and Kelly of Qxadventures Rock Guides (越岩戶外運動訓練有限公司).

The trail wraps around both sides of the cape, with the eastern coast looking out towards the neighboring town of Longdong (龍洞) (seen here in the background) – home of the Dragon Caves (龍洞岩場). (Courtesy of Gregory Thorpe Badrena)

With years of experience rappelling and trekking this coastline, I knew they’d show the group the ins and outs of the area — small if you look at a map – but these paths curve, rise, and fall along with the terrain: prickly, green vegetation on one side, smooth black rock, and the ocean on the other. 

These paths curve, rise and fall along with the terrain: prickly, green vegetation on one side, smooth black rock and ocean on the other. (Courtesy of Gregory Thorpe Badrena)

Heading out of the Bitoujiao’s fishing town, it only takes a fiveminute uphill walk to reach the scenic trail’s starting point. 

It might seem a bit touristy at first, but just beyond the wooden viewing deck lies a much more secluded, thin stretch of dirt path which leads straight to the pearl-white lighthouse at the cape’s northernmost tip — Bitoujiao Mountain (鼻頭角山). 

A dirt path which leads straight to the pearl-white lighthouse at the cape’s northernmost tip – Bitoujiao Mountain (鼻頭角山). (Courtesy of Gregory Thorpe Badrena)

The trail wraps around both sides of the cape, with the eastern coast looking out towards the neighboring town of Longdong (龍洞) — home of the Dragon Caves (龍洞岩場) — the restless Pacific Ocean.

If you are nimble and brave enough, you can take an older, long since abandoned path down to the flat rock formations below, nearly reaching sea level and providing a unique glance at the lighthouse from below; subterranean water cascading (or trickling) out from the mountain’s bedrock.  

Onyx-colored rock stretches out into the Pacific, pushed out from the sea after millennia of tectonic convergence.(Courtesy of Gregory Thorpe Badrena)

The trail’s climax is reached after climbing Bitoujiao Mountain’s peak, an area where the rock looks strikingly similar and equally smooth to Taiwan’s castella cake (古早味蛋糕), and the 360-degree view of the entire coastline that wraps around the cape is spectacular.

Images of Scotland come to mind when admiring the northern side which leads to Bitoujiao’s fishing village, which is precisely the next and final destination of the trek, winding back down through the much thicker brush with the occasional viewing pavilion

Locals’ boats equipped with lanterns to attract squid during the night.(Courtesy of Gregory Thorpe Badrena)

The trail ends at the back alleys of the village brushing up against the mountain, ceremonial music and incense burning from the Taoist temple can already be perceived as we wander through the trails final curve and steps. 

The orange sky and bright lights from the locals squid-fishing boats indicate a setting sun, and Im just in time for a bus to Ruifangs bustling night market just 20 minutes away