For a tiny (394 km long) island Taiwan has an incredible variety of geography. About 70% of the island is covered with mountains, including Jade Mountain, which the tallest in East Asia. There are white sand beaches, jungle, and hotsprings. I’ve seen pools of burning water and fields of burning ground created by fissures in the Earth leaking natural gas. Taiwan’s most incredible geographic features, though, are two small strips of coastline — one on the northern tip of the island, and one on the southern — that look like landscapes out of science fiction movie.
The North: Yehliu Geopark
Yehliu Geopark is a 1.7 km long cape that snakes out into the ocean on Taiwan’s northeast coast, just an hour’s drive from Taipei. It’s home to some of the most bizarre rock formations I’ve ever seen.
The cape is comprised of several layers of rock, most of which are sedimentary. Wind and water, along with the help of urchin and shellfish, have created honeycomb formations, ‘candle’ rocks, mushroom-shaped rocks, and other intricately textured formations, all of which are colored an otherworldly orange-brown.
If you find yourself in Taipei, you should definitely take the time to visit this bizarre wonderland.
The South: Jialeshuei
In contrast to Yehliu, Jialeshui is located on the rural southern tip of Taiwan. There isn’t much around. There are several gift shops and restaurants and a parking lot for tour busses near the entrance to the park. There is also a shuttle that ferries visitors from the parking lot down the 2.4 km paved road to the area where the most spectacular rock formations are found. These things lead me to believe that Jialeshuei can get busy. However, I’ve been there several times have rarely encountered other visitors, save for the occasional local fisherman.
The rock here is nearly the same colour as that at Yehliu, but has very different textures.