Kenting National Park is one of the most beautiful natural areas in Taiwan. Lying on the southern peninsula of Taiwan, it features natural scenery from beaches, coral reefs, waterfalls, grasslands, tropical forests, sand dunes, mountains, and more. Popular activities include hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and any other water sport you can think of. Also it has year round warm tropical temperatures and sunny weather, making it an ideal vacation destination.
Kenting was first settled by Chinese during the Qing Dynasty. The word Kenting comes from twp words that mean cultivate (ken3 墾) and strong man (丁 ding1). During that time, a group of strong men (or Zhuang Ding 壯丁) came from Guangdong, who were basically Chinese pionners of the area to cultivate the land, hence the area was named Kenting for them.
The area was considered to be made into a park during the Japanese occupation due to it being the only tropical location in the Japanese Empire, but was never officially created.
Kenting National Park was established in 1984 as the first national park in Taiwan after WWII.
Kenting became a major vacation spot, becoming a center for hostels and hotels for travelers.
Kenting is considered by many to have the best beaches in Taiwan. This is because of its fine white sand and year-round warm temperatures and sunshine (it is in the tropical part of Taiwan after all).
Price: Free entrance into the park, however certain sections require an entrance fee:
Gueishan 龜山: 60 NT per person
Eluanbi Park 鵝鑾鼻公園: 60 NT per person
Maobitou Park 貓鼻頭公園: 30 NT per person
Kenting Forest Recreation Area 墾丁國家森林遊樂區: 150 NT per person
Jialeshui Scenic Area 佳樂水風景區: 100 NT per person
Kenting Youth Activity Center 墾丁青年活動中心: 50 NT per person
Sheding Park 社頂自然公園: Free
Longluan Lake 龍鑾潭: Free
South Bay Recreation Area 南灣遊憩區: Free
Little Bay 小灣海灘: Free
When to go:
Summer! It's when the water is warmest and the sun is hottest. However there will be more people in summer, and there could be Typhoons.
Spring and Fall are also good times to go, as there will be less visitors and cooler temperatures.
Winter is an okay time to go as well, it will be warmer than the rest of Taiwan and the water will still be warm enough to swim in.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 1 south to the bottom of Taiwan until it becomes provincial highway 26. After that keep going past Hengchun into Kenting National Park.
By Bus: Busses leave daily to Kenting from Zuoying HSR station, Kaohsiung Station, and Pingtung.
By Plane: There are direct shuttle busses to Kenting from Kaohsing's Xiaogang (KHH) Airport.
Map: Please see below:
I have been to Kenting three times, and I haven't even been close seeing all of the parks and sights there. This is not a complete guide, but parts of some of the places that I have visited in the park. Also its kind of a list to help me remember where I should visit on my next trip. Hopefully it is enough to inspire you to go visit.
Sheding Nature Park 社頂自然公園:
First, I will start off with Sheding Nature Park 社頂自然公園, which has some nice nature trails close to Kenting Beach and is free to enter (although you will have to pay for parking).
The park features hikes through coral rock and tropical forest landscapes that are truly unique. There are multiple tunnels through the coral limestone that you can pass under.
More interesting shapes in the coral rock.
View out to the ocean near the top of the trail.
Rock formations protruding out of the forest canopy.
The trail is not that steep or long, so just take it easy and enjoy your surroundings.
View of the ocean to the southeast from the lookout tower at the top of the trail.
View to the southeast.
View to the southern tip of Taiwan.
View to the northeast.
Walking down the boardwalk on top of the forest canopy.
Another coral hole that you have to walk through.
Eluanbi Park 鵝鑾鼻公園
Sadly I have only been to Eluanbi park once and I didn't take many photos. The other time I went, the park was closed due to the aftermath of Typhoon Nepartak.
The park includes a lighthouse, nature trails, and the southernmost point in Taiwan.
This is the view of Taiwan's southernmost point. It's just a rocky shoreline.
But it can be a romantic instagramming spot, I guess.
One of the most beautiful places in the whole park is Fengchuisha, the shoreline on the east side of the peninsula, featuring a wind-cut sandy landscape and sea cliffs.
I think there is a trail down to the shoreline, but we felt just fine looking from above.
We were lucky that day to see one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
View of the sun setting over the Kenting grassy plains on the east side of the peninsula.
More amazing clouds in the sunset.
More sunset views.
Final view of the sunset before we left.
Panorama of Fengchuisha taken via iPhone.
Jialeshui is a scenic area on the east coast in Manzhou Township. There is a nice beach there, waterfalls, along with sand dunes. The place is famous for its surfing as well as off-road Jeep Rides through the sand which have proven to be dangerous. We didn't explore too much here.
Pictured above is Gangkou Suspension Bridge (港口吊橋).
Gangkou Suspension Bridge
Gangkou Suspension Bridge
View of the river after Typhoon Nepartak. Notice the fallen trees in the water.
In the mountains between Jialeshui and Hengchun, there is the township of Manzhou, a small agriculture community nestled in a quiet valleys. It got totally smashed by typhoon Nepartak in 2016. Almost every concrete electric pole had been snapped in half, which is rare to see in Taiwan. The eye passed right through the town.
Closeup of a snapped light pole.
An entitre row of light poles had been knocked down, totally blocking off the road.
An unfortunate car smashed by a fallen tree.
Kenting White Sand Bay Beach (Baishawan) 墾丁白砂灣
Baishawan Beach in Kenting (aka White Sand Bay, not to be confused with Baishawan Beach in New Taipei) is arguably the best beach in Taiwan, with excellent sand, warm clear water, warm temperatures year round, and fewer visitors than Kenting Beach.
For more information about this beach, check out our full blog on White Sand Bay here.
Kenting Beach 墾丁海水浴場
Kenting Beach is the premier beach destination on the Taiwan mainland, and attracts more visitors than any other beach on the island. It features beautiful white sand and long, flat beaches, as well as clear water that is relatively warm year round. In addition, the beach has sunshine for most of the year. Popular activities include jet skiing, water skiing, surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.
For our full blog about Kenting Beach, clickhere.
Kenting Street Night Market 墾丁大街夜市
Located right next to the beach is Kenting Street, a great night market for snacking and tourist oriented shopping. Kenting Street has some of the best selections of souvenirs in Taiwan, so if you are looking for things to buy for your family back home, Kenting Street is a good place to come shopping.
For our full blog about Kenting Street, click here.
Places we missed:
Maobitou Park 貓鼻頭公園
Kenting Forest Recreation Area 墾丁國家森林遊樂區
Jialeshui Scenic Area 佳樂水風景區
Kenting Youth Activity Center 墾丁青年活動中心
Longluan Lake 龍鑾潭
South Bay Recreation Area 南灣遊憩區
Little Bay 小灣海灘
National Museum of Marine Biology 國立海洋生物博物館
Wanlitong Diving Area 萬里通
Little Bali Rocks 小巴里島岩
Sailboat Rock 帆船石
Banana Bay 香蕉灣
Longpan Park 龍盤公園
Qikong Falls 七孔瀑布
...and many others.
As you can see, Kenting is a giant tropical park playground with more things to see and do than you can pack in a week. If you go there, spend an extra few days exploring!
I will be sure to update this blog after I go back hopefully this summer.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our adventures in Taiwan!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.