Island draws tourists


Lying 10 km off the coast of Yilan County, Guishan Island stands as a mysterious sentinel to the people of nearby Toucheng Township and for the past quarter century has been as untouchable as it is omnipresent.

Military stewardship of the island continued until August 2000, when it was partially opened to tourists. Strict rules govern tourism to the island, however. No more than 250 visitors are allowed per day, and then only between March and October. Prospective visitors must first obtain permission from the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration before touring the island. Northeastern Taiwan is also well known locally as a great place to go whale watching.

Some of the first Westerners to land on Taiwan named it Steep Island. It was a notoriously difficult spot on which to land a sea boat. The first Taiwanese to move to the island did so to get away from the gangsters on Taiwan proper. By 1945, the island's population reached 700, mostly concentrated on the tail section. Abandoned buildings from that era, such as an elementary school, power station, water facility and temple, are still standing for tourists to examine. The island's single temple used to be called Gonglan Temple, but today it goes by the name Putouyen.