Jialeshui, in Kenting National Park, is Taiwan’s second most popular surfing destinations (the #1 spot goes to Donghe, in Taitung County).
If you’re not into surfing, you can still enjoy the laidback vibe, awesome nature, sea breeze, and maybe even go for a kayak outing on the peaceful Gangkou River.
If you’re not into any of these outdoor activities, fear not – Jialeshui has a couple of nice small cafes where you can enjoy your latte in the shade, take selfies, and binge on social media while taking in the scenery.
Jialeshui is in Kenting National Park, BUT it doesn’t have nearly as many tourists as Kenting town where thousands of people can be found roaming the main street at night for snacks, shopping, and night market games. Jialeshui is much quieter. Nature lovers, people who love gazing at the stars in complete quietness will love Jialeshui!
If you’re wanting to be staying in the action, near bars, food stalls, and shops, Jialeshui ain’t what you’re looking for. If you want to wake up early to check out the waves, surf, sip a cup of coffee surrounded by tanned people walking around shirtless, maybe see a monkey or a snake cross the road, this paradise might just be for you.
Surfing in Jialeshui
There is kind of a debate going on about which place in Taiwan has the best waves, the best surfing. Some people say Donghe, in Taitung County, is the top spot on the island. Others claim that Jialeshui owns the gold medal. I cannot weight on that dispute, as I’m still only a beginner, and I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Donghe. What I do know for sure, is that both places have world-class waves.
Jialeshui is a quiet spot that gets LOTS of surfers pretty much any time of the year. The beach has been popular for nearly 3 decades with international surfers, mainly from Japan. Most of the B&Bs and restaurants here are owned by hard-core local surfers. The theme of the place is obviously surfing. By contrast, Donghe caters to different classes of tourists: food travelers, road trippers, family outing, random backpackers…
Xinghai Harbor is only a 5-minute drive / ride south of Jialeshui. The village doesn’t have that much to see and do, it’s not too rich in attractions. BUT there are two places definitely worth checking out! Rock Garden Pizza restaurant, and Flying Tiger Bar – both establishments owned and operated by friendly expats.
Kayaking in Jialeshui
You can rent a kayak under the suspension bridge near Jialeshui at a cost of 400NT$ for two people. Pay an extra 100NT$ for a third person. You can kayak upstream along the peaceful Gangkou River, where you can observe monkeys and various species of birds in the jungle nearby. Bring a hat and sunscreen!
Restaurants in Jialeshui
The best restaurant is by the parking lot at the bridge. It’s the first one on the left, by the main road. Locals go there for the delicious Beef Noodle Soup 牛肉麵! All the dishes here are really good value.
Two other options for food in Jialeshui are Corner Cafe (across the main road from the parking lot at the bridge), and Summer Point, at the end of the road. Both places offer burgers and fries, beer, and coffee. Both places have “fluctuating” business hours. When the waves are good, they might be closed. When the weather is bad, they might also be closed, so you just take a chance and drive by to see if they are open.
Rock Garden Pizza is also not too far from Jialeshui, in front of Xinghai Port 興海漁港. Needless to say, the main draw here is pizza! The outdoor seating area is big, comfortable, and devoid of tour groups. It’s a great spot to have a bite and a beer after a surfing session. Jonathan, the owner, is from Canada. Ask him about Wawa.
In Jialeshui proper, meaning withing walking distance from the beach, there’s only one reliable cafe that is always opened: A-Shui Cafe & Surf Shop. You will find this little gem right next to the suspension bridge. The menu is very varied and the food is surprisingly good. Some recommended items are: beef noodle soup, the burger, and pork curry with rice.
A-Shui also offers rental surf boards, as well as surfing lessons.
The nearest legal spot where you can pitch a tent is Shady Tree, formerly known as Rock Garden Campground. I highly recommend this place, it’s run by a friendly guy from the States, there’s a ton of space and trees where you can have privacy and really feel in nature.
Jialeshui Hostels / Guesthouses
I’ve only stayed at Winson’s Hostel, so I can’t really recommend other places on the main front strip. If you don’t mind riding 15 minutes, you should consider staying at Wild East Guesthouse – my favorite B&B in all of Kenting National Park.
Jialeshui does not have upscale accommodation. If you’re looking for a nicer hotel with a swimming pool and more comfort and amenities, you’ll have better luck in Kenting town.
Other seriously cool spots near Jialeshui are:
Manzhou – the wild side, remote part of Kenting National Park
Fengchuisha – popular windswept viewpoint where you can take pictures of an amazingly stunning coastline, walk around sand dunes, and ride your bike on one of Taiwan’s nicest roads
Xuhai – hot spring, hiking, camping, more wild stuff…
Hengchun – the big town where you can buy supply, find cheap hostels, and local restaurants with big flavors
Sail Rock – swimming, jumping off a cliff, lots of guesthouses, nice views