Taiwan’s Coastal Spectacular
At first glance, the word Shihtiping (Shi-tee-ping) may invoke chuckles from those English speakers among us, and yet in the language of the locals, the name perfectly describes the spectacular landscape of this stretch of mesmerizing Eastern Taiwan coastline. Meaning “stone steps” in Mandarin, millions of years of natural erosion and massive tectonic upheaval along the seacoast have created exactly that. A stunning natural stone staircase, rising to the sky and descending down into the azure sea below.
In this magical place where nature has created such amazing scenery, life thrives. Both in the abundant sea creatures in Shihtiping’s tidal pools and coral reefs, but also in the Amis tribespeople who live a traditional Taiwanese lifestyle in rustic villages along this enchanting shoreline. This is Shihtiping.
What is Shihtiping?
Shihtiping is a geologically unique coastal region in the Eastern part of Taiwan that has remained well preserved and culturally traditional, despite recent tourist interest. This Hualien County must-see consists of a sprawling geologic nature park, a vast marine preserve, a quaint village, a fishing harbor, and clusters of fisherman’s homes along the coastline. The people who live in this area are primarily of the indigenous Amis tribe, and most of them make a living as fishermen or craftsmen. Smoked flying fish is one of many delicious local specialties of the area and can be had at several haunts along the shore.
While there, curious visitors can witness the grandiose sweeping scenery, while taking in the everyday life of Shihtiping area residents as they go about their daily lives; a weather-worn fisherman praying silently for a good catch as he walks along the beach, a woman sweeping out her house, children laughing and splashing in the shallows. Although the modern world has rolled in on tour buses over the years, traditional life still goes on in this misty coastal enclave.
Geology of Shihtiping
Shihtiping is both a place of geologic curiosities and picturesque natural beauty. The settled area outside of the park lies on a green plateau between rolling verdant mountains and the sea, where the rich volcanic soil has created the perfect environment for a lush, green landscape.
The natural stone steps meanwhile are a result of ages of erosion in the limestone and the continued collision of the Eurasian Tectonic Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate. The same erosive processes have created innumerable tidal pools and bizarre crater-like holes along the coast. This is the perfect environment for coral reef and marine life, drawing anglers, divers and scientists alike to the area.
There are few places in the world that boast such magnificent views and striking scenery. Gaze along the horizon to the point where the mountains meet the sea for a view unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.