This time of year (April/May) is a lovely time to take the children on a hike in northern Taiwan. It's still just cool enough to walk without being uncomfortable, and lots of plants are presenting their blossoms and blooms, giving you a chance to see some color amongst the greenery.
Bitou Cape is on the northeast coastline, between Gongliao and Fulong. You drive south through Gongliao, around the rather hairy coast road that reminds me a lot of my hometown roads but with more than its fair share of crazy truck drivers added, until you reach a tunnel with a sign indicating you are at BiTou Cape walkway and Elementary School. Driving south, there is a first carpark on your right just before the tunnel. You can also take a small lane on the leftside of the road, doing a kind of U-turn, to get to more carparking area.
Take the stairs and path over the tunnel (avoid crossing the road!), and follow the road up the hill. Right at the beginning of the climb is a really cute little coffeeshop. If you didn't bring anything with you, pick up some water or a drink from them, as the climb can make you thirsty.
The first place you come to is BiTou Elementary School.
|There are actually many small schools like this throughout Taiwan. From experience, they can be nice places for children to enjoy their childhood education.|
|The blue building is for marine-life education. It must be fantastic to sit and class and watch the seaview change with the weather.|
Now, on your left, you will some stairs. Start your hike here.
|We didn't hike up to the lighthouse. You can take a shorter version of the walk.|
|Great spot for a picnic and letting off some energy.|
|This is our three-legged stray dog, Skippy, enjoying some open spaces.|
|Quick geography lesson, great view.|
Half of the walk is out in the open. There is a clear, easy-to-walk trail. There are lots of rest spots, and restrooms, too. The second half of the walk is through Taiwan bush. There are bilingual signs along the walk, teaching you about the flora and fauna you see.
|My children loved being in the hills.|
|The walk has a lot of stairs, but it's a good balance of up and down.|
|Watch your head! All the overhanging branches are covered for your protection.|
|Lovely bamboo corridor.|
|There are several maps, all bilingual and very clear. |
|Don't pick the flowers!|
We spent a good two hours on this trail, including a long stop on the grassy slope heading to the sea. If you have toddlers, you will want to keep an eye on them. The walk would be easily done with a baby in a backpack or with children that are old enough to walk without being carried. My children loved being able to scream and run and have the sound dissipate into the ocean air without worrying about neighbors or parents telling them to be quiet.
When you come down the exit of the trail, there are a few stores selling snacks, and there is a seafood restaurant. To get back to your car, turn left and walk along the harbor. Go under the highway through the walkway, and either find your car in that carpark or head up onto the road to get to the first carpark.
We made a day of the trip by heading again to the Fu Bar in Fulong,
for pita bread sandwiches and "the most delicious pudding in the whole world", to quote my son.
Note: The wind can be quite strong and cold at the top of the cape, so take a windbreaker for your kids.
Directions: I will leave proper directions up to this site
. There is also information about the geography and history of the area, and it is a good English-language link for finding more places to visit in Taiwan.
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