Camping in secret Yilan beach caves and waterfall 神秘海滩

What To Do In Taiwan: Camp in a cave under starry night skies.

Nanao Beach caves, a large camping spot in Yilan, Taiwan.

Note: [Originally posted July 2021, reposted 2023 because content was lost.]

When traveling to Taiwan, many think of food, nightmarkets, and nearby hikes, but what Taiwan has to offer is so much more. Just a drive away is a cluster of large secret caves facing the Pacific Ocean. Camp in them overnight to replace the bustle of nightmarkets with gentle waves, and bright lanterns with shining stars.

Planning for the camping trip

Yilan Beach Cave travel guide by Foodbaby with itinerary, packing list, and maps.
Yilan Beach Cave Travel Guide

I like to create spreadsheets of all my travels and adventures. This is a snippet of what an overnight trip would look like for a group of 16. See the spreadsheet here. We were ambitious and originally planned to camp, swim in the ocean, and river-trace to a waterfall the next day. In reality we ate too many chocolate cookies, got about an hour of sleep, and swam in a closer but smaller waterfall instead.

Important Note: There is no 7/11 or convenience store nearby unless you want to walk an hour back. Make sure you bring everything you need with you to the cave. There’s a checklist in the guide!

Food prep for a camping trip in Taiwan
The food prep. I went shopping the day before to pick up BBQ essentials: marshmallows and turtle corn chips.

How To Get To The Caves

We decided to take several cars and drive from Taipei to Nanao, however there are busses and trains that can also take you along the same route. Rent a car with Klook or buy a bus ticket.

Once there, we called up a 4WD car to help bring us to the cave. Without the car it’s about an hours walk – but with several tents, bags, food, and more we decided the drive was worth it.

A 4WD is required to drive across the rocky beach in Nanao
Tightly packed in the 4WD – it was a bumpy 10 min ride to the cave.
Green colored cliffs
You first drive past these green colored cliffs and a small waterfall before reaching the largest cave.
Getting to the Nanao Beach Caves in Yilan
1. Park here before switching to a 4WD. The caves are situated along the coast south of the parking. You will pass by green cliffs (2), mini caves, and a small waterfall (3), before reaching the largest cave (4).
One of the largest caves in Nanao Yilan.
Our home for the night. One of the largest caves on the beach could fit all 16 of us, our tents, sleeping bags, and more.

We luckily ended up with the largest cave. There are several caves along the coast, with one main one that can fit larger groups. We set up our tents inside the cave, put our bags inside, and started with some food prep.

Tarps and a floating unicorn under a cave

For a couple of hours we swam in the ocean, walked to the nearby waterfall and washed off the sea-water, read on the sand, hung out, and collected sticks to build our fire later.

Camping by the fire with a bright moon over the ocean
Camping in the secret beaches of Yilan, we had a beautiful bright moon, but had to light torches and use our flashlights to see.
Camping in a cave in Taiwan
The cave at night, without no light pollution we built a fire to cook our food and light the way.

And suddenly just like that it was night. We had built a fire which was lighting our way – however we hadn’t brought enough torches so used our phones to light the beach if we were walking around. We adopted a buddy system since it was hard to see at night, and roasted some marshmallows.

To see the stars walk a little further from the cave and get your eyes adjusted to seeing in the dark. You’ll start seeing hundreds and hundreds of stars that can’t shine through the light pollution of Taipei. On some nights, you can see the milky way.

This is a pretty good deal for a tent rental on Shopee.

The heat woke us up from our 1 hour nap, just in time for sunrise. We took another quick dip, swimming from the ocean to the nearby waterfall where we rinsed off the salt water. Another successful camping trip off the list!

Camping group trip by Foodbaby
The crew! We dubbed ourselves the Cave Humans.

I have to include this incredible video made by my adventure buddy, photographer, and videographer, Cavin. Check out his work!

Secret Cave Guide

If you’re looking for the spreadsheet of things to do while at the Secret Cave in Yilan, or essentials to pack for the trip, I’ve compiled them all here: Cave Guide. I don’t charge for the sheet, but have used affiliate links if you decide to purchase anything going through my links gives me a small commission 🙏

Cave guide to Nanao Caves in Yilan by Foodbaby
The guide includes a checklist on essentials to bring, a map on how to get to the cave, and more.

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