Taiwan’s Twisted Coastlines

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.


A paved walkway leads to the end of the 1700m cape.

A paved walkway leads to the end of the 1700m cape.

The landscape consists of a smooth looking orange-brown surface with mushroom-shaped rocks rising from it. It looks like you’d expect Mars to look, except weirder.

It’s a photographer’s paradise.

The tops of the mushrooms and surfaces of other rocks are covered in intricate honeycombs.


This is one of my favourite photos that I took there. The woman in it is Kristin Mock, another writer who was there with me. You can read her take on Yehliu on the Perceptive Travel blog.

When you visit, be prepared to deal with large crowds of photo-happy tourists.

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 road from the parking lot to the area where the rocks really get bizarre is 2.4km long.


I like to walk, but there’s also a shuttle that takes tourists down the road and stops along the way to point out the best-known rocks.

This rock is said to have a face in it.

Located near the southernmost point on the island, Jaileshui is lashed by high winds and large waves. Swimming is not recommended.

The rock here is nearly the same colour as that at Yehliu, but has very different textures.

There are still lots of honeycombs though.

One of my favourites is known as Frog Rock. I’m sure you can see why.

I’m also a fan of the wave-shaped rocks that have been carved out by the wind.


14 thoughts on “Taiwan’s Twisted Coastlines”

  1. I really wanted to visit Yehliu but couldn’t fit it into my itinerary. It was either Yehliu or Taroko, and I chose Taroko. But I did a road trip on the East Coast from around Kaohsiung to Taitung area. Doesn’t have much scenic rock formations (I’m a sucker for those!), but plenty of deserted beaches with three-colored ocean!

  2. That’s really interesting. Taiwan was never on my radar and in my imagination it was ‘just another tropical country’. Now you have enticed my curiosity!


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