Spend the Day at Liyu Lake
Lying at the foot of Liyu Mountain, the serene Liyu Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hualien County, and a popular weekend recreation spot for those seeking a respite from the city. One of the best things to do in Hualien, the name “Liyutan”, literally translates to “Carp Lake” and stories vary as to the origin of the name: Did the lake used to be filled with carp? Does Liyu Mountain look like a carp when viewed from the western shore of the lake? Is the entire lake the shape of a carp when viewed from the sky?! One thing is for sure, the beauty and tranquility of the lake is the reason so many travelers have stopped for a rest by its shores. Here we will outline some of the many wonderful things you can do on a day at the lake!
Location & Size of Liyu Lake
Liyu Lake is roughly 1.6 km in length and 930 meters in width, making it the largest inland lake in Hualien County and all of Eastern Taiwan. It is located less than twenty kilometers from Hualien City in Shoufeng township and has a total area of 104 hectares. After the development of the lake as a premier scenic spot near Hualien City, it has become a popular site for many different outdoor recreational activities.
Activities at Liyu Lake
Activities such as paddle boats, kayaks and speedboats are all readily available on the lake. The relaxing and easy going nature of paddle boats and kayaks make them the most popular for a leisurely afternoon on the tranquil lake. However, speedboat hires are available if you want a faster tour of the area. Though be warned: the lake is small enough that a speedboat tour might be finished in a couple of minutes!
Bicycle tours of the area are a very popular way to enjoy Liyu Lake. Available for rent at the visitors center, the bicycles come in all sizes and rent for NT$100. The 4km long bicycle trail around the lake is as beautiful and scenic as they come.
Walking Paths and Trails
If you don’t want to boat or bike, you can take a stroll along the lake shore walkway, appreciating the scenery amidst the trees and nature. There are several resting and picnic spots along the way and it takes about an hour on foot. Also Liyu Mountain at the south end of the lake has numerous mountain trails for exploring.
Liyu Lake Sculpture Park
Near the north visitor center is the Liyu Lake sculpture park. Take a walk through the numerous stone sculptures scattered about the grass and trees.
Tasting Live Shrimp
If you are bold, you can try out the Live Jumping Prawns available at food stalls along the lake shore. Mini live shrimp dipped in a spicy sauce made of soy, rice liquor, ginger, lemon and chili. Yum! They are still jumping while you put them in your mouth!
Liyu Lake Visitor Center
The charming visitor center at the North shore of the lake has many educational displays related to the lake and the gift shop and cafe are not to be missed. Especially for ice cream on a hot day! There are also BBQ areas, viewing towers, picnic tables, jade souvenir shops, several food stalls and vendors renting out boats and kayaks to the public.
Dragon Boat Festival
People come from far and wide each year during the Dragon Boat Festival in late May, where the most exciting dragon boat races are held at Liyu Lake. It is a traditional cultural festival you should not miss!
Every year around April in the evening, thousands of fireflies flash above the lake, making the whole lake shimmer with light. If you’ve never seen fireflies before, here is your chance.
Two other spots in the area worth exploring are the spectacular Mugua River Gorge and the vast East Rift Valley. The Mugua River Gorge is home to countless scenic waterfalls and swimming holes. While the East Rift Valley stretches from Liyu Lake down to Taitung and contains beautiful pastures, lakes, hot springs, tea plantations and more. Visitors could combine these three lovely sites into a multi day tour itinerary while visiting Hualien. There is so much to do at Liyu Lake and in the surrounding area. It’s time to get started!