Strewn with meteorite-sized boulders and facing Turtle Island 10km offshore, Wai'ao's black sand beach is one of the best places in northern Taiwan for surf bums. English-speaking instructors operate out of the Rising Sun Surf Inn, one of a strip of local houses facing the sea behind a 2km boardwalk. Wai'ao train station is at the north end of the beach.
The beach is roughly bookended by the two most recognisable structures in the area – a humongous yellow cafe called No. 9 Coffee (previously a Mr Brown Cafe) and what looks like a mosque but is actually the residence of a Taiwanese with connections to the Middle East. In between them you'll find a strip of sea-facing houses on either side of the busy main road, a tiny handful of which have been converted into B&Bs and restaurants.