am standing on a cliff overlooking Green Bay, a scenic stretch of the north coast between the harbor city of Keelung and the highly popular Yehliu Geopark. Strapped to my back is a straggling pack, and a giant billowing canopy spanning four to five meters extends behind me. With nothing else but kneepads, a helmet, and my all-encompassing faith in the instructor I just met who is going to take me on a tandem flight, I'm going to run off that cliff and pray that the winds do not falter. Paragliding has been a popular outdoor sport in Taiwan for some time now. The coastal mountains behind Green Bay, in New Taipei City’s rural Wanli District, receive plenty of sea wind, making them a perfect point of departure for paragliders. There are other locations in Taiwan suitable for paragliding as well, also offering great vistas – Puli in central Nantou County, Saijia in southern Pingtung County, the Luye Highland in southeastern Taitung County, and Wai’ao in eastern Yilan County. Wanli, however, perhaps offers the best conditions, with steady winds and marvelous coastal scenery.
NEW TAIPEI CITY
With his trademark bandana, Mustang, the owner of Wanli's one and only Mustang Paragliding Club, greets his visitors with a broad grin and a dry sense of humor. He has been flying here, and offering flights to others, for around thirty years now. After learning to paraglide in Taiwan, he took to the skies in many places around the world, even doing a flight over China's Great Wall on one occasion. He then saw an opportunity, he sheepishly admits, to make money in Taiwan while doing what he loves best, and set up a paragliding club in Wanli, first sharing the launch pad with other outfits, then buying the land it sits on to gain exclusive access. He couldn’t have chosen a better spot. Wanli is situated less than an hour away from central Taipei by car – a bit longer by public transport (train to Keelung, then bus to Wanli) – and the unobstructed views you get from where the paragliders depart makes the site a tantalizing jumping-off point. Looking out, the azure water of the sea seemingly melds with the sky, beckoning even the most apprehensive visitor to come closer.
Paragliding down to the beach at Green Bay
Travel in Taiwan