Whether you’re into windsurfing, race cars, or just chilling by the ocean, Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣) is becoming the nation’s next best holiday destination with its variety of fun and feasts. With a little something for everyone, this flourishing spot in Pingtung County is rich in history, local cuisine, and all manner of outdoor activities. Discover all the hidden gems this lagoon has to offer.
Over 800 football fields wide, Dapeng Bay is the largest lagoon in Southern Taiwan, surrounded by a spacious road and the fishing district of Donggang (東港). Its unique geographic shape has allowed oyster colonies to flourish, contributing to the district’s abundant seafood culture.
The Bay was developed during Japanese rule as a military stronghold and played host to dormitories, bunkers and even an airport runway. Many of the original structures have since been remodeled as resorts, though some remain completely untouched. As tourists flock to the area for its rich history, Dapeng Bay is quickly becoming one of the best aquatic escapes in the country.
Dapeng Bay’s spaciousness allows for a variety of motorsports activities, including an indoor mini-race car rink at the Seashore Service Area (水上驛站), where visitors can try their hand at riding Segways. For those curious about testing out the waters, Dapeng Bay’s lagoon shelters its inland sea from surrounding currents, allowing even the most sea-sickness-prone to enjoy a variety of water sports.
For NT$300 per person, you can cruise on the Penghu Tourist Yacht (鵬福觀光遊艇). The boats will sail with a minimum of just two people, which means that on off-peak days, you could find yourself (and a friend) on your own private yacht. The ticket comes with a free plate of fresh oysters and juice, dropping by the famous Oyster Shell Island for a chance to taste some rare seafood dishes. During seasons when seabirds are abundant, you might even see packs of egrets following the boats. For those inclined, pets are allowed on the yachts for a NT$50 cleaning fee.
Visitors can navigate the waters firsthand at the Dapeng Bay Sailboat Club (帆船基地), located on the Bin Bay Park Pier. The business is run by a local family that has been sailing since the first reestablishment of the Bay. Visitors can kayak, windsurf or take a 5-person sailboat to experience the bay’s smooth waters. Other than one-time sails, the club also offers extensive courses for enthusiasts to become experts at gliding across the waters with ease.
Spring is the best time to check out Dapeng Bay, especially with the 2016 Yacht and Regatta Festival set to occur in the coming weekends from March 26 to April 10. Visitors will have the chance to partake in kayaking races or try windsurfing at the Sailboat Club for free by bringing receipts for charity. The event is accompanied by live bands, street performers and even a white foam party.
Home to the country’s only legal G2 racetrack, Dapeng Bay draws racing enthusiasts from all walks of life. Although not everyone can drive Porsche 917s around the professional racetracks, the Bay offers a spacious alternative for amateurs to get their taste of adrenaline. The Dapeng Bay Karting Rink (大鵬灣卡丁車場) offers a racing experience for NT$400, with karts that go up to 70 kilometers per hour. For smaller tourists, there’s an indoor racetrack with child-sized BMWs at the Seashore Service Area (水上驛站) across from the Dapeng Bay Visitor’s Center, where adults can hop on rentable Segways and join in on the race. Dapeng Bay has space for some good ol’ fashioned ATV rides on the beach, too, at the QingZhou Coastal Recreation Area (青洲濱海遊憩區).
An aquatic escape is not complete without riding a swan pedal boat, passing by famous local mangroves and perhaps spotting fiddler crabs during certain tides. The visitor’s center provides a helpful tidal timetable every day for optimum crab watching. Thrill-seekers should try the “Human Washing Machine” or the water bumper cars for children that sit alongside the pedal boats, all at the Seashore Service Area.
The Dapeng Bay Bridge is the one and only functional drawbridge in Taiwan, built to accommodate the looming heights of sailboats that visit the bay. Although the drawbridge is infrequently used, tourists can get a glimpse of how it functions every Saturday evening at 5 p.m., when a hired sailboat sails through for a demonstration. The whole process takes less than 3 minutes, however, so don’t be late for the show.
Taiwan’s only legal G2 Race Track is perhaps the only place in the country where Porsche and Ferrari owners can push their cars to their limits. Although the track only holds professional events once a year, visitors may find amateur race car enthusiasts practicing on the track on any given day. For a view of both the racetrack and the bay, grab a spot on the plane-shaped observation deck, built in honor of Dapeng Bay’s original status as a military airport and major port.
This small island within Dapeng Bay is made entirely of leftover oyster shells, compiled by the currents throughout the years. Unlike general waste, oyster shells are non-decomposable, so locals found it was actually best to toss them back into the ocean, where they function as water purifiers. A wooden platform is built on the island, housing an eatery serving the freshest fish you’ll find. Hitch a ride from the Penghu Tourist Yacht or sail over from a Dapeng Bay Sailboat Club rental.
If you’re into urban exploration, all across Dapeng Bay are abandoned buildings erected during Japanese rule. Thanks to the area’s status as a historic site, many of these structures are specially preserved and kept off-limits to developers. Several former military dormitories with secret underground tunnels connecting all the buildings in the vicinity sit within walking distance of The Orient. For now, all of these buildings, including any unlocked underground tunnels, are free to roam; you might even find a few locals hanging out during their lunch break.
After windsurfing at the Sailboat Club, take a breather at the Windsurfing Cafe (風帆咖啡), a bistro with spacious indoor and outdoor seating. It serves light meals, with a few specialty seafood items like tuna and fish-flake waffles and Thai seafood curry noodles. Cocktails are just NT$120, so imbibe without guilt.
You don’t have to be a guest at the Orient Penbay Resort to enjoy a luxurious feast in the resort’s beautiful dining hall. Walk-ins are accepted for the resort’s lunch, afternoon tea and dinner services. The five-course meal is rich with fresh seafood, with a changing menu that reflects the local seasonal harvests. Expect a luxurious experience, without the price; a full meal costs around NT$600.
Fried fish floss comes from a longstanding tradition in fish farming households of turning the leftover catch into preservable additions to the daily fare. The Wei-i Food Company in particular is known around the world for its vast variety of fish floss. The family-owned business began from the living room of the Hsieh family, who began building a great reputation as they started gifting their homemade floss to their neighbors. The effervescent Apple is the second-generation owner of the business and has become a local celebrity in the Donggang District.
Another of Dapeng Bay’s culinary specialties is dried shredded fish, born also from a need for preservation. Learn the entire process of making the fish at the Seadawn Factory (鮮饌道), where the owner has turned decades of producing a snack time favorite into an educational tourist attraction.
Situated at the heart of Dapeng Bay, the Orient Resort Penbay is a quiet and luxurious escape. Unlike the typical extravagant resort, however, the Orient retains all the shapes and structures of the original military design, including the underground tunnels. High ceilings, spacious stairways, and small secret doors add a unique aura to the hotel. Race car enthusiasts can also enjoy a first-class view of the nearby G2 race track from the rooftop.
Right between the ocean and the Dapeng Bay Bridge, the O.B.Zone (變形特區) is a Transformers-themed, shipping-container-converted B&B and restaurant operated by young brothers from Donggang. The adjacent two-story restaurant serves vegetarian Western food, featuring an unbeatable 360-degree view of both the bridge and the ocean. The shipping containers are properly heat-proofed, and show a direct view of the drawbridge in the distance; their walls feature graffiti by renowned Taipei artist AhdiaOne (阿迪阿萬).
Run by Hsu Chien-wei, an IT instructor at a nearby college, the Wish and Dreaming B&B (許願宿民宿) is a roaming ground for the owner’s two adopted cats, Nini and Chago, whose photos adorn the house. Visitors are treated to a Western-style breakfast featuring homemade jams and specialty teas. Whether you share his passion for cats or just want something more personal than a hotel room, Hsu provides warm, local hospitality in an authentic Taiwanese home.
Courtesy of The Orient Resort Penbay
The best way to get around the spacious Dapeng Bay on a sunny day is by electric scooter or bike. You can rent an e-scooter for a day from Isuda (易速達) for NT$400, right at the Dapeng Bay Visitor’s Center. Click here for more information on other two-wheeled rental options.
The “Kenting Express” bus runs hourly between the Zuoying HSR station and Dapeng Bay, taking about 45 minutes. Tickets are NT$145. Click here for more information on the schedule.
Dapeng Bay is at the end of National Highway No. 3. Though National Highway No.1 is technically a little shorter, it’s more prone to traffic jams; No. 3, on the other hand, is usually pretty empty, and passes through many scenic rest stops.