With its otherworldly rock formations, Taiwan’s Yehliu Geopark feels like being transported to another planet. Extending 1,700 metres out into the East China Sea, the dramatic limestone cape attracts both geologists and day trippers alike. Battered by aeons of erosion from wind and water, the park is a unique example of just how powerful Mother Nature’s elements can be.
The site is peppered with hundreds of rock formations, with quirky names like Fairy's Shoe, Queen's Head, the Beehive and Sea Candles. A call at the visitor information centre is a must, where tourists can pick up informative English brochures. These explain the geological science behind extraordinary formations like mushroom rocks, marine potholes, hoodoo stones and honeycomb weathering. Note that Yehliu Geopark can get extremely crowded on weekends and holidays, so early morning and weekday visits are recommended.
At 33.5 kilometres from Taipei city centre, it’s only a short 40-minute drive. Tourism shuttle buses are also a convenient option and stop directly outside the park entrance. For those staying in nearby Keelung City, it’s a 30-minute drive up the coast.
While today Yehliu Geopark is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist attractions, it was formed millions of years ago when tectonic forces pushed the Datun Mountains out of the sea. The name ‘Yehliu’ is derived from a Pinpu language term, with ‘yeh’ meaning savage and ‘liu’ meaning steal. It refers to a common issue encountered by traders, which saw local people use bamboo sticks to pierce sacks during transit in a bid to steal rice.