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Monday, June 23, 2014

Snorkeling in Long Dong - 龍洞


A view of the cliff faces and cove waters of Long Dong snorkeling cove.
Long Dong Snorkeling Cove
On the northeast coast of Taiwan is Long Dong (龍洞), a village with an unfortunate name in English and Chinese (the translation is Dragon's Hole). Easily accessible within 2 hours of Taipei, the bay is a perfect well-kept secret featuring coral snorkeling, cliff diving, bouldering, and lead rock climbing. By far, this is one of my favorite locations to bring people. It is cheap, easily and quickly accessible, and beautiful.

Flickr Album

Cost and Time
Total  ~6 hours, ~390NTD
Bus to Long Dong from Taipei - 120NTD, 1.5 hrs
-- OR Train to Ruifang, bus to Long Dong - ~150 NTD
- Gear rental - 50 NT/piece (suggested flippers, goggles + snorkel, aquasocks)
- Bus back to Ruifang/Keelung, Train to Taipei - ~120 NTD, ~1.5hrs

What to Expect
- Snorkeling in clear, jade-blue water with many colorful fish, coral, and urchins to look at.
- Cliff diving.
- Accessible rock climbing. Fasten points available.
- Scrambling over small boulders to get to the snorkeling  location, and more light climbing available.

What to Bring
- Good shoes - to get to the snorkeling location, there is a mildly difficult scramble over a boulder field.
- Lots of water and food - there is no 7/11. Buy your things in Taipei rather than risk missing your last chance for food and water.
- Swimsuit - the rental place provides flippers, snorkels, masks, aqua socks, and wet suits.
- Change of clothes - the rental place allows you to use their hot showers after your swim.
- Sunscreen

Instructions:

Briefly:
- Long Dong bus stop and rental shop: 25.117631, 121.916126 (Link)
- Snorkeling cove: 25.112149, 121.922720 (Link)

In Depth:

To Long Dong Option 1:
- Go to Taipei West Bus Station Terminal 3, near exit Z3 of Taipei Main Station (Link)
- Take the 1811 bus. Times are 8:20, 9:20, and 10:20AM.
- Get off at "龍洞灣公園 / Lóngdòng wān gōngyuán / Cave Bay Park" (Link) It will be right after a tunnel. The bus may not stop, you will need to press the "alert driver" button.

To Long Dong Option 2:
- Take a train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang station (Taipei Train Website)
- Go to the bus station on the opposite side of Mingdeng Road from Ruifang Train Station. If you can't find it, walk east down Ming Deng Road (with your back to Ruifang train station, turn left) until you come across a much more obvious bus station on your right. (Link)  (25.107557, 121.808337)
- Take the 856 or 886 bus.
- Get off at "龍洞灣公園 / Lóngdòng wān gōngyuán / Cave Bay Park" (Link) It will be right after a tunnel. The bus may not stop, you will need to press the "alert driver" button.

At Long Dong:
- At the bus stop, face the tunnel you just came through on the bus. Ahead of you and to the left is the snorkel rental place you want. It has a red awning:

The best snorkel rental shop in Long Dong, featuring cheap prices and free showers.
Snorkel rental shop in Long Dong. 
Each piece is 50NTD. Get flippers, goggles + snorkel, and aqua socks. The shop will require an ID to be left with them, and you will pay upon returning your gear. They have a bathroom and shower in the back.
- To get to the snorkel location, walk around the bay to the other side of the village. 

The view across the Long Dong Cape / Bay towards the beginning of the snorkeling cove trail.
View across the cape towards the entrance to the snorkeling cove.
- When you get to the end of the road, there will be a field of boulders marked with red arrows showing the way to the snorkeling cove. Follow those arrows. 

The first red arrow that marks the path amongst the rocks to the Long Dong Snorkeling Cove.
Entrance to the trail leading to the snorkeling cove.
- You have arrived at the cove when you can see the iconic cliff diving rock, shown below. Snorkel to your heart's content. Be on the lookout for the colorful fish, sea urchins, and coral. You can bring a bit of bread to get the fish riled up, if it pleases you, however it is generally not healthy to feed wildlife man-made food. Also, take care not to step on or disturb the coral, it is very fragile. 


The cliff diving rock and surrounding waters of Long Dong snorkeling cove.
The iconic cliff-diving rock of Long Dong.
- After returning your gear, go to the bus stop opposite the rental shop. Take bus 886 back to Ruifang Train Station, or bus 791 to Keelung Train Station, and from there take a train back to Taipei.

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