Thu, Jan 16, 2020 - Page 14 News List

Book review: Plunging into Taiwan’s deep blue waters

The first comprehensive guide on scuba diving in Taiwan is a joy to read

By Bradley Winterton  /  Contributing reporter

Dive into Taiwan, by Simon Pridmore

This is the first comprehensive guide to scuba diving in Taiwan ever published, and it has the feel of an instant classic. Taiwan is not one of the world’s premier scuba destinations, says Simon Pridmore, but it has many diving attractions and shouldn’t be ignored.

The book opens with an admirably comprehensive introduction to Taiwan’s geography, history, languages and access procedures. These sections couldn’t be clearer or more helpful. Consider this, for example, on driving a car on the island: “If you are in a car and you hit someone on a scooter, it will be your fault even if they crashed into you. This is not because you are a foreigner or a visitor; it is because you are in a car. This is just how it is.”

The reason Taiwan has spectacular diving sites, Pridmore explains, is the kuroshio, or “dark tide,” a Pacific equivalent of the North Atlantic’s Gulf stream. The name derives from the “deep, dark, clear ultramarine blue” of the affected oceans — a paradise, needless to say, for scuba divers — and it flows up the east coast of Taiwan towards Japan.

The first of the six diving sites Pridmore deals with is on the north-east coast, a mere hour’s drive from Taipei at Badouzi (八斗子). Notable here are the Wanghaixiang bay (望海巷) area (including Secret Garden and Secret Garden 2), the Longdong bay (龍洞) area (also popular with rock-climbers), and a site called 82.5km for its roadside marker number on the North Coast Highway. In addition, there’s Turtle Island off the coast of Yilan, an underwater volcanic vent and Taiwan’s only active volcano.

Next comes Penghu (澎壺). Most of the diving here is from a boat, and among the highlights are an underwater postbox and a sunken wreck. Also notable is Wolf East (東吉之狼), where “a giant school of very large, fat yellowtail barracuda” enjoy the current off the south of Dongjiyu (東吉嶼). Pridmore claims this may be one of your best diving experiences in Taiwan.

Publication Notes

Dive into Taiwan

By Simon Pridmore

275 pages


Paperback : Indonesia

Also notable in this area are the Dongjiyu Lavender Fields (also attractive to snorkelers) and the Xijiyu Basalt Ridge. As always, the author is hugely informative on things to do above water in the islands’ towns and villages.

Then, very close to Kaohsiung, is the island of Siaoliouciou (小琉球), the only place in Taiwan’s waters, we’re informed, where you can enjoy warm-water diving all the year round. Here more shipwrecks and a “beauty cave” form the main attractions.

After surveying the diving attractions of Hengchun (恆春), close to Kenting (墾丁), plus a quick look at Taitung (not really a diving center), Pridmore moves on to Orchid Island (蘭嶼)and Green Island (綠島).

After summarizing Orchid Island’s flying-fish and nuclear waste phenomena, plus the history of the Tao Aborigines, the book goes on to look at the diving sites, choosing the Badai Bay wreck (八代灣) and the Airport Perimeter Reef (機場外礁) as the best two, both with excellent visibility. “On a blue-sky day,” the author writes, “from mid-morning onwards, these coral gardens will be glowing with clouds of small reef fish milling about and sparkling and shimmering in the sun.”

International divers, we’re told, will be pleased by the sight in Taiwan of species they have never encountered before, such as Shepard’s pygmy angelfish and firetail dottyback. And at Lady Rock (玉女岩) to the northwest of the island, where sea snakes are the main attraction, access is directly from the shore rather than by boat, as is common elsewhere in the area. The somewhat less dramatic Fire Reef is nearby.

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