2nd the recommendation for the Lonely Planet! Great tips & directions (many from Muzha Man himself). Used it extensively the past 2 months for camping, hiking, hot springs and beaches up & down the east coast. Just need to get off your butt & pick a place to go!
Wai-ao/Fulong/Daxi are only an hour away by train. Wai-ao beach was still fairly empty last weekend, but looks like the place to be for surfing. LP also suggests a great hike here - the Caoling Historic Trail.
If you have a few days to travel, Green Island was pretty cool once you get past the people trying to rent you shit right off the boat before you even know which direction to turn :fume:
You can camp really cheaply & rent a scooter w/o even giving your name, much less needing a license (as long as you’re the only foreigner on the island). Easy place to learn to ride too, except for the spots where you could careen off the road into the ocean There are no cabs or buses, but in good weather there are bound to be stars (it rained on us all week). The place is pitch black at night except near the towns & the only people out after 8pm were 7-11 staff & us crazy foreigners. Most of the time we had the nice quiet campground to ourselves.
If you have a week or so, do Taroko Gorge first & then head down the coast from Hualian. Take the ferry or fly from Taidong to Green Island (Even hungover w/limited breakfast I did fine w/the ferry … not true of others tho. You can ride outside/up top too, but it was kinda rough & splashy. Awesome).
There are also several beach camping spots near Taidong w/nobody there after dusk 'cept fishermen. Other option is the inland train, stopping along the way for hiking/hotsprings.
On an unrelated note, why is the east coast so seemingly un(der)developed, while the west seems crammed full of ratty cities? Typhoon path or something?