Shadao Beach in Kenting (aka Sand Island) is arguably the best beach in Taiwan, with excellent sand, warm clear water, pristine surroundings, warm temperatures year round, and no visitors. That's right, this beach is so great that it has been made into an environmentally protected area that no once can visit. Humans are banned.
Shadao (literally meaning sand island) was originally named because the local residents thought the small bit of sand here looked like an island among the coral rocks.
98% of the sand on the beach is made of sea shells. Many of the sea shells that washed up on the beach were collected in the past and sent to other countries as precious ornaments. To protect the beach from disappearing, the government made the beach a protected area.
Kenting was first settled by Chinese during the Qing Dynasty. The word Kenting comes from two 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 pioneers 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).
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.
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 Kenting Street and on to Shadao. The parking for Shadao is on the ocean side of the road.
By Bus: Busses leave daily to Kenting from Zuoying HSR station, Kaohsiung Station, and Pingtung. Get off at the Shadao bus stop （砂島）.
Map: Please see below:
I have only stopped at Shadao once. I did not know it existed for a long time. I image some people once enjoyed this beach before it became a reserve. It's pristine sand and waters reminds me of Gebanwan Beach on Xiaoliuqiu Island.
If you decide to enter the beach, that will cost you a 3,000 NT fine. And you will probably be harassed by National Park personnel.
"The view from Shadao"
"Sandy soil provides very little nutrition for plants and its water retention capacity is low as well. Therefore the only plants that can grow on sandy shores are plants that have a high tolerance for drought and windy seaside environment. In order to survive in this adverse environment, plants growing on sandy shores have developed fluffy leaves, prostrate stems, and adventitious roots."
View of the coral rocks near the beach.
The coral rocks near the beach are not off limits. There is a fence stopping you from entering the beach though.
There was still a lot of people admiring the rocks here.
Looking back at the pristine beach.
View down south of the rocky coastline.
People enjoying the tide pools here.
More selfies in the tide pools.
View of submerged coral rocks.
The water here is amazingly clear.
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.