Only 54km north of Taipei City, you’ll find one of Taiwan’s most incredible landscapes – Laomei Green Reef (老梅綠石槽).
Located just on the outskirts of Laomei, a tiny fishing village in New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門區), Laomei Reef is one spot that you definitely shouldn’t miss on your day trips from Taipei bucket list!
Besides being a gorgeous beach near Taipei, this stunning rocky reef is also one of the most bizarre natural wonders you’ll find in all of Taiwan. Here’s what to expect and all the ins and outs of visiting Laomei Green Reef.
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What makes Laomei Reef so special
While there’s no shortage of natural beauty along Taiwan’s North Coast, Laomei Green Reef is arguably one of Taiwan’s most stunning sceneries. Every year during spring, a carpet of green algae covers the entire reef creating the most phenomenal sight imaginable.
What really makes the reef such a unique spot is that the ditches and trenches were formed thousands of years ago when the Datun Mountains’ volcanoes erupted. The lava flowed down to the coast, creating this unique oddity. Of course, centuries of erosion also played a part in shaping the dozens of strange-looking rows along the 700m reef.
Travel tip: Since this is a natural landmark, please respect the environment. To safeguard the reef and its visitors, note that it’s strictly prohibited to walk on the reef. In fact, you can get a dizzying fine if caught doing so! I was also quite disappointed to see garbage scattered along the beach. Please take your trash with you! There are bins in the bathroom near the food vendors as well as by the lighthouse.
Best time to visit the Green Reef at Laomei
While Laomei Beach is a great year-round place to visit in Taiwan, a bit more planning is needed if you want to see the reef covered in a vibrant green carpet.
The best time to visit the green reef at Laomei is from March to May. Since the algae die rather quickly when the weather starts to warm, you really want to get your timing right. The easiest way to know when to visit is to keep an eye on recent news articles and posts on social media, like Instagram.
Another thing to know is that the reef is only visible during low tide. Don’t forget to check the tidal schedules for Shimen before your trip to avoid disappointment.
If your itinerary in Taiwan is flexible, it’s also best to visit during the week. I went on a long weekend, and the beach was insanely busy! Luckily, as with most attractions in Taiwan, it’s not too hard to get away from the crowds!
For the best photography, come at dawn or dusk (tides permitting). Then you can capture the reef with magical changing skies as a backdrop!
How to get to Laomei Green Reef
The easiest way to get to Laomei Reef is to self-drive or book a private day tour. That way, you can explore all of the north coast’s hidden gems at your own pace.
If that is not an option for you, the best way to get to Laomei Green Reef is by bus. Take bus 863 or 862 from Tamsui Bus Station (right next to the Tamsui MRT Station). The journey takes about 1 hour. Buses come every 20-30 minutes and cost NT$45. Get off at the Mingde Village 1 stop. From here, it’s a 3-minute walk to the beach entrance. You’ll also find loads of food vendors selling all kinds of local Taiwanese street food and drinks here.
Alternatively, take the Crown Northern Coast Shuttle Bus #716, which comes every two hours between 9 am and 3 pm. Tickets cost NT$24 to Laomei Reef and, like all other buses in Taiwan, can be paid with an Easy Card.
Insider tip: Since not all passengers might get off here, it’s best to listen carefully to the announcements. Also keep Google Maps open so that you know when to press the buzzer.
What to do at Laomei Beach
While the reef is a really cool place to tick off during your Taipei travels, you can easily see it all in under 2 hours. This will allow ample time to walk along the reef, take as many photos as your heart desires, and even chill on the beach.
However, since you’ve come all this way, it would be a shame not to explore a bit further afield. If you continue past the green reef, there’s a nice coastal walk offering killer views over New Taipei City’s rugged coastline.
To get to the pathway from the very end of the beach, you’ll need to scramble up a massive dune. If you’re not wearing flip-flops, you might want to kick off your shoes as it’s a pain to make the journey with sneakers. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the entire bay!
Don’t stop here, though, because there’s much more to see!
Like the reef, the Fugui Cape (Taiwan’s northernmost cape), was formed when lava from Mount Datun flowed into the ocean. All along the trail you can spot cool rock formations shaped by centuries of sea and wind erosion. These are called windkanter. What really makes these formations so cool is that most of them have sharp pointed edges, which is quite different from other popular geological sites in Taiwan, like Yehliu.
After a short stroll, you’ll find the Fuguijiao Lighthouse (富貴角燈塔) offering even more breathtaking panoramas. While you could head back to Laomei after exploring the lighthouse, it’s worth continuing along the trail to the Fuji Fishing Harbor (富基漁港) where you can enjoy the freshest seafood imaginable. It’s only about 480m to the market, and the path is easy to walk from the lighthouse. Just a heads up, expect to spot quite a few scary-looking lizards!
The closest bus stop is Fugui Cape Lighthouse, which is about 650m away from the fish market. From there, you can either catch the bus back to Taipei or explore other hidden gems nearby. Jinbaoli Old Street, as well as the Shimen Rice Terraces, are other great places to see, but for a change of pace, don’t miss Baishawan Beach (白沙灣遊憩區). It’s a lovely beach boasting powdery white sand and gentle waves. If you don’t fancy taking a dip or trying out stand-up paddleboarding, opt for an ice-cold beer and the best fish and chips in Taiwan at Dazzler’s Fish and Chips. The owner is from the UK, and I’m not lying when I say this is the real deal – complete with peas (albeit not mushy) and tartar sauce!
There you have it – absolutely everything you need to know about visiting Laomei Green Reef. I hope this post comes in handy on your visit to this unique part of Taiwan. If you feel I’ve missed anything, drop me a message in the comments below to keep this post updated.