Grommets, Take Note: Here’s Where to Shoot the Curl in Taiwan

Born and raised in Kenting, Taiwan, Rory Macdonald is one of the youngest surfers to watch on the global surfing scene. He signed on with Quiksilver at the age of 12 and has eight championships under his belt since 2010.

Here, Macdonald talks about Taiwan as an up-and-coming surfing destination, where to find awesome waves and how to decipher surfer slang.

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Surfers head into the water along Taiwan’s coast. (Photo: Getty Images)


Taiwan’s back garden features some 109 miles of coastline with numerous good surf spots, most of which are difficult to access — so surfers will have plenty of space in the water.

The fact that the spot, a quick one-hour flight or six-hour road trip from Taipei, boasts excellent waves means it’s the venue for many international surfing competitions but is not ideal for beginners.

The stretch between Donghe and Changbin, where the continental shelf extends 164 to 196 feet from the shore, is home to the biggest waves and is best visited in autumn and winter when the northeast monsoon hits.

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Yilan has been attracting big names from the international surf set. (Photo: Getty Images)


Further north from Taitung, Yilan’s waters are cooler, and in January when the swells tend to be bigger, you will need a 3/2 full wetsuit to catch the waves.

Beaches are actually rare in this part of Taiwan, but Wai’ao’s moderate waves and black sand make it a great place for novices to learn to up their game.

Thrill seekers come here to surf the violent waves during typhoons.

Bizarre Surfing Slang, Explained

Just so all you grommets don’t get confused when you hang out with other surfers.

Shoot the Curl:

Surfing through the hollow part of the wave formed as it crests over.


Japanese for “hooray.” It somehow made it into the surfer’s dictionary as a powerful roar of excitement for just before you shoot the curl.


Same as the above. Language origin: American.

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Gnarly waves await! (Photo: Getty Images)



A gender-neutral term for someone who hangs around the beach.


A beginner surfer.


A grommet that gets in the way of everyone. Prone to trouble because of ignorance or lack of experience.


Can’t surf. Too much food.

Beaver Tail:

No one really needs them, but if you must know, it’s a wet suit that features a snap-on crotch (from behind it looks exactly like a beaver’s tail). If you want to look like a beaver, get one.


At the surf beach, it refers to a surfer riding a surfboard while lying stiffly on his back, arms crossed.


Fancy moves pulled by a skilled surfer. For a grommet it’s impressive and annoying in equal measure.


You’ve just been served a delicious “NO SURFING” flag at the beach.


When a surfer gets knocked off his board by strong waves.

Neptune Cocktail:

They don’t serve this at the bar. It means gulping down a large bellyful of seawater during a nasty wipeout.

Sand Facial:

Usually enjoyed with a nice Neptune cocktail. During a wipeout, a surfer can get dragged along the seabed, facedown.

Selling Buicks:

The process of puking up Neptune cocktail, also signals the end of a surf day.

Sidewalk Surfing:

Unrelated to actual surfing — it refers to skateboarding.


Example sentence: I’m going on a surfari to hunt down some good waves.