Global sea surface wind field data derived from NCEP reanalysis were used in driving a SWAN wave model to reconstruct historical wave records from 1948 to 2008. The reconstructed wave data were compared and verified by the observation of the data buoys of the Central Weather Bureau and the Water Resources Agency, Taiwan, and the National Data Buoy Center/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States. Over the past six decades, the wave climate in Taiwan waters has undergone considerable changes. The annual mean significant wave heights have reduced an average of 0.31 cm/year. Winter wave heights have gradually dropped 0.86 cm/year, which are related to the weakening of winter monsoons. Regarding the inter-annual wave climate variation, the influence of El Niño/southern oscillation was substantial; the wave heights increased in La Niña years and decreased in El Niño years. In the past 60 years, extreme wave events have been concentrated in two periods: 1967-1974 and 2000-2008. More severe extreme wave events occurred in the latter compared with the former, and all were induced by typhoons. A clear trend, in which the summer (winter) extreme wave events have increased (decreased) gradually, has been identified. The 1980s was the transition period. After the transition period, the annual occurrence of extreme wave events caused by typhoons exceeded those caused by an intense outbreak of winter cold surges, although the total number of the annual extreme wave events has not changed substantially.