This article briefly covers the local environment, weather, transportation, and attractions, as well as all the other essential details you need to go surfing in Jinshan District (金山) in Northern Taiwan.
Introduction to Jinshan (金山)
Jinshan District (金山區) is located 44km northeast of Taipei (臺北市) in New Taipei City (新北市). Famous for its seafood, sweet potatoes, and hot springs, Jinshan (also the name of the largest town in this area) is also known for its beautiful coastlines. Jinshan is the closest surfing spot to Taipei and it only takes about 40 minutes to drive from Taipei (with no traffic). If there is heavy traffic coming out of the city or along the coast, it will take about an hour or more.
Nestled on the northern side of Yangmingshan National Park, Jinshan is a really pretty destination that has a subtle rugged side to it. Prior to the opening of the Xueshan Tunnel out to Yilan in 2006, resulting in the explosion of Wai’ao and Wushi Harbor as popular surfing destinations, Zhongjiao Bay (中角灣) in Jinshan was arguably northern Taiwan‘s most popular surfing destination. It had a vibrant surfing culture and regular, albeit, small crowds of surfers. That community has become less active in recent years, but with the development of the Zhongjiao Bay International Surfing Base, the local government hopes to revitalize that moving forward.
Surfing in Jinshan (金山)
There are two surfing locations in Jinshan, although one of them is much more known than the other. The first location is positioned north of Jinshan Old Street, Zhongjiao Bay International Surfing Base (中角灣國際衝浪基地) is more well-known of the two surfing destinations in Jinshan District. The second surfing spot is called Xialiao Beach and is found south of the town of Jinshan.
Zhongjiao Bay International Surfing Base (中角灣國際衝浪基地)
Zhongjiao Bay faces north-east and features both a beach and point break. The seabed here is a mix of sand with rocks and offers both left and right rides. Follow the tide charts as mid-tide offers the most consistent swells. Zhongjiao Bay is considered a suitable surfing spot for beginners and up.
Zhongjiao Bay has a more clearly defined bay than Xialiao, but is the smaller of the two beaches. While both beaches tend to get littered with trash after a storm (sometimes not even after a storm!), Zhongjiao Bay has much more services for beachgoers, making it much more enjoyable to spend the day.
The facilities at Zhongjiao Bay are relatively new. The site as plenty of paid parking, public washrooms and paid showers. There is also a place for visitors to rent surfboards and a few small cafes and places to get light snacks. An added benefit are the buildings that can be used to get some shade and get out of the elements. But you’re not here for information on what to do out of the water. You’re interested in what to do in the water.
Where to Go Surfing in Zhongjiao Bay (中角灣)
The best surfing occurs directly out front of the Zhongjiaowan Visitor Center. The surf varies here depending on wind and swell direction. The best swell directions tend to be (in order) N / NNE / NE / E / ESE and the best wind directions are S / SW
The best wave conditions are usually early in the morning or late in the evening, as winds tend to pick up in the morning and taper off at dusk. There are usually shore swells during the middle of the day, so paddling out can be difficult.
The left wave is in the wave break area on the north side of the beach. If the waves are big enough and the conditions are good enough, the left-hand waves here can be very good. Right-running waves are less consistent, and the wave pattern often collapses completely.
Xialiao Beach 下寮海灘
Definitely the lesser known of the surf spots in Jinshan, Xialiao Beach typically features consistent point breaks before or after storms. The right-hand waves off the north-end of the beach hold well but with crashing shore waves it can be difficult to paddle out in. Long and short boards are ok here when the waves and conditions are right.
Best Time to Go Surfing in Jinshan (金山)
The most popular time to surf in Zhongjiao Bay or Xieliao Beach is the summer. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best time. We’d argue the best time to surf at Zhongjiao or Xialiao Beach is winter. During these times, while the water and weather is cooler, the swell seems to be more consistent. However, spring and autumn are also great for milder weather and fewer crowds. Summer is certainly more enjoyable with hot weather and less rain (unless typhoons are in the forecast) making it a year-round destination for surfers.
Weather and Climate at Jinshan (金山)
Jinshan (外澳), located on the northern coast of Taiwan, experiences a subtropical climate with distinct seasons throughout the year. Here’s a detailed overview of the climate and weather in Jinshan for each season, along with estimated water temperatures and wave strength:
Spring (March to early May):
Spring in Jinshan is pleasantly mild and relatively dry. Temperatures tend to gradually rise from March onwards, making it a great time to visit. Water temperatures in Jinshan during the Spring typically range from 19°C to 24°C (66°F to 75°F). Wave strength are generally low to moderate in Spring, making it suitable for beginner surfers. As the weather warms, a good wetsuit choice for Jinshan would be one with 2mm thickness.
Summer (June to August):
Summers in Jinshan are hot and humid, characterized by high temperatures and occasional heavy rainfall due to the East Asian monsoon. This is also typhoon season. It is not recommended to go surfing in a typhoon and in some cases fully restricted. However, shortly before or after the arrival/departure of the typhoon are some of the best times to go surfing in the Jinshan area. Expect frequent rain showers and thunderstorms, especially in the afternoons between June and August. Water temperatures during the summer months range from 26°C to 30°C (79°F to 86°F). Summer sees moderate to high wave strength along the entire north coast, making it a popular destination for beginner and novice surfers. During the summer months, wetsuits are not needed.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn is one of our favorite seasons in Jinshan. Despite gradually cooling temperatures, daytime temperatures are still high and range from 24°C to 30°C (75°F to 86°F). The weather is generally more consistently sunny and dry during the autumn, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities. Water temperatures remain warm, ranging from 26°C to 30°C (79°F to 86°F). For surfers, wave strength is moderate, suitable so probably a better time of the year for beginner surfers. During the early Autumn, surfers may not need a wetsuit. As the weather cools, a good wetsuit choice for Jinshan would be one with a 1 mm or 2mm thickness.
Winter (December to February) in Jinshan:
Due to the very humid climate, winters in Jinshan feel relatively cool compared to the rest of Taiwan. Daytime temperatures range from 14°C to 20°C (57°F to 68°F). It can be cloudy and damp during the winter months, with occasional rainfall. Water temperatures during winter are cooler, ranging from 19°C to 24°C (66°F to 75°F). With the cooler weather comes the need for thicker wetsuits; one with about a 3/2 mm thickness. When no off-shore storm fronts are kicking up a swell, wave strengths are generally low in winter.
Booking a Surf Tour (Coming Soon)
Interested in visiting Taiwan for a Surf Tour but need some support? Whether you require full trip planning services or just help booking a surf lesson, rental or full tour with a verified company, we’re keen to help. We’re working tirelessly on getting our booking system online!
How to Get to Jinshan
How to Get to Zhongjiao Bay or Xialiao Beach by Car from Taipei
From Taipei Main Station, Zhongjiao Bay is about 44km north of Taipei. However, the mountains of Yangmingshan National Park sit between Taipei and this section of Taiwan’s north coast. For the fastest route, visitors will have drive east to Keelung and then drive west along the coast. With no traffic, the trip would take approximately 45 minutes to drive. You can expect this time to increase on weekends or holidays and during rush-hour traffic.
If you’re traveling by car from Taipei to Zhongjiao Bay, use this as the Google Maps reference.
If you’re traveling by car from Taipei to Xialiao Beach, use this as the Google Maps reference.
Parking in Zhongjiao Bay
Parking for both scooters and cars is available here and costs NTD$50/hour. This is where a large majority of beach goers will park due to its convenient location and the limited free parking available in the area. This parking lot is also very accessible to the public washrooms and paid showers located at the Zhongjiao Bay Visitor Center (中角灣遊客中心).
Parking in Xialiao Beach
There are a few places to park and access the surf at Xialiao Beach. One location provides access to the middle of the beach here. There is not a lot of space for cars, so it if it is a busy weekend these spots might be taken. It does, however, allow visitors to unpack gear and get on the beach immediately. The other location requires payment and a bit of a walk. You can use this location to set your Google Maps to.
How to Get from Taipei to Jinshan by bus
Take the Taipei Metro (MRT), bus, taxi, or bike to Taipei City Hall MRT Station and use Exit 2. It is a short 1 minute walk from there to Taipei City Hall Bus Station. From the station, there are a few buses that eventually make their way out to Jinshan, however the most frequent are 1815 or 1815a, which depart every 20 minutes. These buses cost a total of NTD $128 one-way. Visitors can use an Easycard by tapping when you board and when you disembark. Visitors can also pay in exact cash when you board.
The entire trip, including the walking sections will take between 1 hour and 50 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remember, you can’t bring a surfboard on the bus, so you’d have to rent one from Zhongjiao Bay International Surfing Base. Here is the route description on Google Maps.