Village in Taitung

If you've got your own wheels, Taimali offers a pleasantly low-key alternative to Taitung as a travel base with long beaches, flower-patched mountains, coffee plantations and sweeping viewpoints looking north across the crashing surf to distant silhouettes of the Coastal Range Mountains.

The seemingly endless curl of Taimali Beach is a wide expanse of grey gravel rather than sand, but it is beautifully edged with palms and fir trees and set against a backdrop of steeply sloped orchards, forests and fields. Access is surprisingly easy to miss – just east of Taimali train station, cross Hwy 9 and take the tiny lane signposted Aurora Park. From there a cycle path runs between the trees offering several beach access points and passes a handful of older cottages. Bike hire is free if you stay at the Sunrise Hotel, which lives up to its name with a rooftop terrace to observe the dawn.

Various lanes head up into the mountains which are at their prettiest when divided by wisps of cloud. The classic destination is Mt Jinzhen where, as on Sixty Stone Mountain, day lilies are cultivated as much for food as for the spectacle. Following the well-signed 'Flower Route' takes you around 13km each way. For something much shorter, you could stop at Km3.2 where an overlook surveys the whole of Taimali.