Taiwan for Nature Lovers
For lovers of nature, Taiwan offers a shocking wealth of unique natural beauty and landscapes. From soaring green mountains to sprawling beaches, spectacular rivers to bizarre geologic wonders, there are countless adventures to keep you busy in the great outdoors. Here are just a few of the must-see destinations for nature lovers in Taiwan.
1. Taroko Gorge: 1-3 days
The number-one item on anyone’s Taiwan nature agenda has to be Taroko Gorge National Park. Easily visited from Hualien City on Taiwan’s green East Coast, here you will have your choice of beautiful nature hikes amidst the largest marble canyon in the world. Towering cliffs, gushing waterfalls, turquoise rivers, and hundreds of species of butterflies, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals make this one of the most abundant natural areas in Asia. While there you can add a day to hike the famed Zhuilu Old Trail, a, former tribal hunting path carved into a cliff 700 meters above the gorge, and/or drive up 3,000 spectacular meters to the Hehuanshan Mountains to see rolling hills of pygmy bamboo high above the tree line. The massive Taroko Gorge National Park can’t be missed!
2. Hot Springs: 1-2 days
Taiwan sits along a geothermal hotbed and is home to countless rejuvenating natural hot springs. The Hualien-Taitung area alone boasts more than 20 different wild hot springs and hot spring resorts that you can visit! For the truly adventurous, be sure to take the long journey to the wild Lisong Hot Springs from Taitung. Nestled at the base of a river valley, the green mineral covered cliffs around Lisong are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. The trip is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort! For the less adventurous amongst us, be sure to stop by a hot spring resort. There are dozens to choose from throughout the island.
3. Kenting National Park: 2-3 days
This national park is a natural treasure filled with an impressive array of plants and animals. The forested park is fringed with beautiful beaches along the Bashi Channel, and people come from all over the world to swim, snorkel, and surf in the brilliant blue water. The interior of the park is no less beautiful, so don’t spend all your time at the beach if you visit! Be sure to take a stroll or a hike along the paths so you can appreciate the unique biodiversity around you.
4. The Beaches: 1-2 days
Taiwan is an island, so there are plenty of opportunities to relax on beaches. While the beaches of Taiwan aren’t all great for swimming, many being rock beaches rather than sandy beaches, they are still wonderful for relaxing and enjoying the tranquil sounds of the ocean. The Kenting area has the best sandy beaches, Baisha Beach and Little Bay being two of the best, but there are other sandy beaches throughout the island. Niushan Huting (Cow Mountain) beach south of Hualien is one of the more beautiful.
5. Shihtiping: 1/2 day
A unique geologic wonder, Shihtiping is a bizarre coastal landscape where volcanic rock burst from the sea and then was eroded over countless eons. Towering rock formations and incredible tidal pools teaming with sea life abound in this strange world between Taitung and Hualien. Off the shore, you can snorkel amidst coral reefs and see countless sea creatures, or just wander on the rocks among the crystal pools spying fish, crabs and more in natures aquariums.
6. Lao Mei Green Rock Troughs: 1/2 day
If you enjoy the ocean, this is another special twist on your typical beach day. Lao Mei Beach in Xinbei, near Taipei, is home to a wild vista unlike any other in Taiwan. Here, the rocks at the edge of the sea appear as though there are a thousand nearly-straight trenches carved from the beach to the water! In the late winter and early spring, the rocks are covered with green algae that add a bit of magic to this already interesting place.
If you love nature and plan to visit Taiwan, you will never run out of amazing places to explore. You really won’t find destinations like these anywhere else in the world.