Who hasn’t fantasized about being shipwrecked on an island? Quiet, solitude, and the struggle to survive. Sounds like a really good vacation.
Unfortunately, most of us will never get the chance to actually be shipwrecked on an island, but two weeks ago I came the closest that I’ll probably ever get.
Orchid Island is a two-hour boat ride (or thirty-minute plane ride) from the east coast of Taiwan. Even though it’s technically (and officially really is) a part of Taiwan, it’s a completely different world from Taiwan, isolated by water, distance, and bad cell phone reception.
The island is only 28 miles (45 kilometers) in diameter, with one road that circles the whole island and another that cuts through the middle. The coastline is mainly cliff or rocky coral and the west half of the island has some pretty rough waves, but the east half has much calmer water and some sandy beaches, so there are a couple good swimming spots.
The island is made up of mountains covered in dense jungle with few trails and lots of snakes, so exploring inland isn’t really an option.
Orchid Island is a tropical island, which means that one minute it feels like the air is trying to smother you with a wool blanket, then the next minute the sky is trying to drown/electrocute you.
When I visited, there was a big holiday in Taiwan, so every hostel and hotel was filled to capacity with tourists. Me and my crew managed to find places to sleep, but it was definitely a tight squeeze. Even though the hostels were full, the island still felt quiet and isolated, which made me wonder how much more peaceful it must feel on a normal day.
We spent our time swimming, hiding from thunderstorms, and trying local food.
Because the island is tropical, it’s home to poisonous snakes (including sea snakes) and plants, so dodging those made the experience that much more exciting.
The locals were hecka nice and helpful and the pigs, dogs, goats, cats, and chickens that ran through the streets gave the whole experience a rustic feel.
Even though I probably won’t get to experience being shipwrecked, at least I feel shipwrecked if I go to an island that’s isolated, peaceful, and occasionally tries to kill me.