Visit Taiwan's Finest Beaches
in Kenting National Park

If warm tropical weather and white sandy beaches are your thing, head down south for at least a day or two.

kenting baisha beach taiwanMe, about to barbecue a huge red snapper on the beach at Baisha.
View of the Pacific Ocean near Jialeshui, KentingView of the Pacific Ocean near Jialeshui, Kenting

Kenting, located at the southern tip of the island, is one of the top three hot-spots for tourists in Taiwan. This part of Formosa has a national park, beautiful beaches, ecological protection areas, old villages, green hills, and fishing harbours. The whole area (called Hengchun Peninsula) is one of the most picturesque of the entire island, and also one of the most touristic. I personally LOVE Kenting, I take trips down here at least 3-4 times a year with my wife, and we've been thinking about moving here in the near future...

See all the sights listed on this page on my MAP.

Baishawan Beach Kenting TaiwanBack-flipping in the sea with my friend Chris.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ACCOMMODATION... (Seriously, this part is crucial!)
Book your hotel before you get there, especially if you're going to visit the area during a weekend or holiday! You do not want to waste your time driving or walking around looking for a place to stay there. I always reserve my rooms on and I recommend you do the same if you want the best rates. If you do visit during a peak period and you end up stranded without a bed and everything is fully booked, your best chance will be to look for a room in Hengchun, the town north of Kenting Village.

houbihu kentingPalm trees and sunshine is what you get in the south part of Taiwan!

Things to do in Kenting, attractions:

  • chill on the sand with a cold drink
  • hike in grassy meadows 
  • surf or watch surfers
  • eat fresh seafood
  • swim, snorkel or scuba dive
  • snap a picture or two at Eluanbi Cape where you can see Taiwan's most popular lighthouse
Southern tip of Taiwan, between Kenting and JialeshuiMy two good friends, walking around on sharp rocks near the southern tip of Taiwan
el puerto hotel kenting taiwanThe El Puerto Hotel, between Sail Rock and Eluanbi Cape

Best time to visit Taiwan's beaches

If the weather is your main concern, do not worry - Kenting has good weather year-round. Still, keep in mind that typhoons are frequent during the summer months and most beaches are closed on those occasions. Also, just like other popular places around the island, expect a gazillion tourists on holidays, and for that reason, I prefer visiting Kenting and the beaches in the area during quiet weekdays only. I seldom travel here on weekends as hotels, beaches, roads, restaurants, and tourist sites can really get horribly packed.

crowded beach in kenting taiwanBeaches in Kenting can get crowded on weekends and holidays.

Top Beaches in Kenting

Baisha Beach (Baishawan) 白沙灣

My favorite beach use to be Baisha Beach, located in the quiet Baisha Bay (not quiet anymore!) about 5 km away from Kenting. By the way, bai means white and sha means sand. I like it because it's removed from the hustle and bustle of Kenting town, it's free, long, clean and you can even camp on the sand at night or have a barbecue without worrying about being kicked out.

To visit Baisha, head north toward Hengchun on Kenting Rd (for about 2 or 3km) and turn left at the 7-11 (road 153). It helps if you have your own scooter or car. Otherwise you can hitchhike or take a bus from Hengchun bus station.

Baisha beach bar in kenting, TaiwanA nice little beach bar at Happy Panda, at the northern end of Baisha

Update 2017: Tour groups from China have drastically decreased, and Baisha beach is not as crazy as before, when thousands of tourists from the mainland would invade the whole area by the bus loads. Let's hope the situation stays like that.

Baishawan beach kenting taiwanBaisha, during the "invasion" period

You won't have any difficulty finding the other beaches along Kenting Rd. As you drive around the peninsula (the tip of the island) you'll pass about a dozen parking lots where you can stop and it's usually only a short walk to the shore. Try Nanwan beach if Baisha is too far for you. If you have your own scooter or car, make sure to check Jialeshui.

Nanwan (South Beach) 南灣

Nanwan is the busiest beach in the Kenting area, it's the big, busy bay that you'll see by the road as you pass Hengchun, just a few minutes before you enter Kenting town. It can be busy, noisy, a little dirty, but it offers the convenience of hotels, restaurants, a 7-11, as well as 2 scooter rental shops right in front of the sea.

Many visitors who don't have their own transportation opt to spend their whole vacation in Nanwan as everything needed is within walking distance. That being said, it can get disturbingly busy and there is even a nuclear power plant right on the northern edge of the bay, as you can see on the following picture... 

Nanwan beach kenting, taiwanThe southern end of Nanwan Beach is busy, noisy, dirty, but highly convenient.

As you can see from these two pictures (above and below), Nanwan can be crazy packed or surprisingly empty! 

nanwan beach kending, pingtung county, taiwanThe northern end of Nanwan is quieter and even offers some nice waves for surfers!

You may want to check the South Bay Recreation Area at Nanwan if you need to use a changing room, toilet, or locker to store your bag while you go for a swim. The center also sells snacks, beer, swimsuits and there's a parking lot (not free) just outside.

South Bay Recreation center, nanwan, kenting, taiwanSouth Bay Recreation Area at Nanwan
ATV on south beach nanwan, taiwan, kentingThe dark side of the South Beach... ATVs, tractors, and jet-skis are always present to create a (un)healthy dose of pollution, and jaw-dropping scenes where you can only think WTF!!?
nanwan south beach kenting, taiwan 南灣墾丁台灣Across the road from Nanwan, you can find restaurants, hotels, a 7-11, scooter rental shops, and toys to play in the sea.

Jialeshui Beach 佳樂水

Jialeshui is where I always go these days. I guess I'm getting too old (or too boring) for the action of the main town and it's constant hustle and bustle. Jialeshui is 25 minutes away from Kenting village, around the southern tip of Taiwan, across the peninsula, in a small bay facing the Pacific Ocean.

kenting to jialeshui taiwan, pacific ocean viewThe road to Jialeshui is one of the most scenic in the country, and for that reason, it's highly popular with cyclists, bikers, and runners.

Jialeshui = Best Surfing in Kenting!

If you're a surfer, your visit to Taiwan won't be complete without a trip to Jialeshui. It is considered by many to be the top place on the island for catching waves.

You can rent surfboards at one of the little surf shops you'll see right after the bridge. A place with a friendly owner (Doris) and reasonable price is Jialeshui Surf Club, which is located at Food Corner (find it on the map). Prices to rent a long foam surfboard are 500NT$ for half a day, and 800NT$ for a full day. It's a bit more expensive for a shorter / better board. They also rent wetsuits and offer surfing lessons.

Contact Doris through Facebook, or give her a call at 0963763502, or 0906108528. Tell her you heard about her place from Ugo,

surfboards rental in jialeshui kenting taiwanRental surfboards @ Jialeshui Surf Club
Food Corner in Jialeshui, Kenting, TaiwanFood Corner and Jialeshui Surf Club share the same little building. Their rental surfboards are at the back.

 (Update 2017: It is no longer legal to camp at Jialeshui, but some people still pitch their tent once it gets dark. By any means, keep a low profile, don't make a fire, and keep the volume as low as possible if you still decide to camp there.

If you don't want to camp, but would still like to stay in the area, you could spend a night at Relax Easy Guesthouse Kenting, which is just outside of Jialeshui, along the main road that takes you back to Kenting. Another amazing option, where I stay most of the time I travel to Jialeshui, is Winson's Hostel

jialeshui beach kentingJialeshui Beach early in the morning
jialeshui kenting 佳樂水Having fun, jumping from sand banks at a river mouth at the beach
Xinghai Harbour near Jialeshui, Kenting, TaiwanXinghai Harbour just south of Jialeshui

Sail Rock 船帆石

A bit similar to Nanwan beach, but not as crowded. Couple of good, affordable hotels available within walking distance, very few restaurants, a 7-11, not easy to park a car on weekends. Jumping from the "lip" or "chin" of the rock should be on your list of thing to absolutely do if you're adventurous. Snorkeling around the rock is fun too, when there's not a billion people in the water.

sail rock kenting taiwan,  船帆石,墾丁,台灣Sail Rock is popular with snorkeling groups, swimmers, and people who walk under umbrellas.

Sun Light Inn at Sail Rock!
Highly recommended!
I stayed twice at Sun Light Inn, it's near Sail Rock beach, only two minutes away by foot. The rooms are bright and clean, the staff is attentive, and the price is very reasonable, less than 2000NT$ from what I remember. Book here.

Sun Light Inn Hotel near Sail Rock Beach

Kenting Beach 墾丁海水浴場

This is the main beach which is also the closest to town with its numerous hotels, restaurants, and stores. Due to its proximity to this developed area, there is quite a lot of trash all over the place and there's even a stream which brings sewage water right into the sea. For those reasons, I never frequent that beach.

Kenting Beach 墾丁海水浴場No Swimming sign @ Kenting Beach
Sewage water flows right onto the beach and into the sea. Gross.

Best Snorkeling in Kenting

If you want to snorkel, you'll want to head to what is called Little Bali Rock, or Little Bali Bay (小巴里島岩), which is located about 1km south of Houbihu Fishing Harbour. Check the map at the bottom of this page to find it. You can rent snorkel equipment at one of the diving shops across the street from Houbihu Harbour.

snorkeling in kenting taiwanLittle Bali Bay is the best spot for snorkeling in Kenting

Eluanbi Lighthouse 鵝鑾鼻燈塔

Built in 1883 during the Qing Dynasty, Eluanbi Lighthouse stands at the top of Cape Eluanbi near the southern tip of the island, between the Pacific Ocean and the Taiwan Strait. 

Eluanbi Lighthouse, kenting, taiwan 鵝鑾鼻燈塔,墾丁,台灣The beautiful lighthouse on Eluanbi Cape

Cost per person to have access to the lighthouse and its little museum is 60NT$ per person. I think it's worth it if you want to snap a picture of the building and know more about the history of the Sino-Japanese war, World-War II, and the complicated relationship between China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States.

kenting lighthouse taiwanThe lighthouse makes a stunning subject for pictures on a beautiful, sunny day!

Bitou Harbour 鼻頭漁港

Bitou Harbour is never mentioned in guidebooks, I've never seen any tourists there, and that's the reason why I like that spot. Fishermen have told me I can't swim in the harbour, but I've always pretended I can't understand what they're saying, or I tell them there's no sign mentioning that. 

Bitou Harbour has one of the nicest natural "pool" to swim. You can jump from the cement wall on the left, by the road.
Fishing boat at Bitou HarbourFishing boat at Bitou Harbour

Southern Tip of Taiwan

The southern tip of Taiwan is seen by many as a tourist trap. It use to be free of vendors, but now they turned it into a park with a stone path for tourists to walk to the edge of the sea, where there's a platform and an ugly sculpture. There's lots of tourists, vendors - even some who play loud music along the path. There's tons of nice trails around Kenting National Park where you can hike in quietness, no point to waste precious time here unless you want to claim that you've really been to the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

southern tip of taiwan, kentingSouthern tip of Taiwan

Restaurants and cafes in Kenting

For some of the best - and extremely cheap - seafood, head to Houbihu Fishing Harbor. Follow the directions to Baisha beach (explained above), then follow the signs to the harbor.

There are so many places to eat in Kenting. You can have Chinese, Thai, Italian, Tex-Mex, Mongolian BBQ, Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC... Just walk around and browse the menus on display by the main road.

Take a look at this page where I listed my own favourite restaurants / food stands / cafes in and around Kenting and Hengchun. 

Ruby tries the spaghetti at OTT restaurant on the main street.
kending street foodStreet food the Taiwanese way on Kenting Street

Find Affordable Hotels

The past few times I went down south to visit the beautiful beaches around the southern tip of Taiwan, I was shocked to see the huge amount of new hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and BnB that now line up the road in Hengchun. As Kenting is getting more expensive and crowded, it seems like everyone wants to stay in Hengchun. Check availability and prices for a hotel now if you don't want to have to drive back to Kaohsiung to find accommodation.

Hotel De Plus

Hotel De Plus is located near the southern tip of the island and it's one of the very few accommodations in all of Taiwan which enjoys two things which I love: an amazing view over the Pacific Ocean, and NO NEIGHBORS! Not having any buildings around is hard to find in Taiwan. I have never stayed at Hotel De Plus, but some of my visitors have spend nights there and they have told me it was one of the highlights of their whole trip. You can check room availability and make a reservation from here.

puding road in kenting hengchun taiwanPuding Road, which runs through the hills behind Hotel De Plus, passes through superb countryside scenery and offers stunning photo opportunities!
Jialeshui River and bridge in Kenting, Pingtung, TaiwanJialeshui River and bridge, just passed Hotel De Plus

Caesar Park - 5-Star Hotel

Another favorite, the Caesar Park has a stunning swimming pool, superb dining options, impeccable rooms, and surroundings you would expect in a paradise like Bali or Tahiti. Check prices, availability, and book right here.

Caesar Park Hotel
Gorgeous views from the Caesar Park Hotel

Camping in Kenting

If you want to camp, your best (legal) option is near Sail Rock. There's a couple of campgrounds by the road on your left (mountain side) as you head down south. These campgrounds tend to get really, really packed on weekends, but can be completely empty during the week. 

Other options (illegal) include pitching your tent, or sleeping under the stars at one of the beaches - an option I've used many times without ever encountering any problem.

camping in kenting, taiwanCampgrounds in Kenting by Sail Rock

Some other spots you could consider for camping are:

  • Baisha Beach (southern end)
  • Jialeshui Beach (southern end)
  • Feng Chui Sha Viewpoint (down by the beach)
  • Manchurian Drawbridge (just below, on the flat grass near the parking lot
kenting camping, taiwanThere are plenty of spots where you can pitch your tent below Feng Chui Sha, by the sea

Shopping in Kenting

Kenting Street turns into a mega-huge, crazy-busy nightmarket at night. You'll find cheap souvenirs, T-shirts, snorkeling gear, swimsuits, sunglasses, iPhone covers, wallets, hand-made jewellery, and all the typical, useless gadgets that are usually sold at beach resorts.

If you need to buy more useful products (like BBQ equipment), head up north to Hengchun town where there is a wide array of "normal" stores which cater to the locals needs, not just tourists.

kenting streetThe main street in town turns into a huge night-market in the evening

Nightlife, bars, discos, booze-trucks

In Kenting town, there are quite a few bars / lounges, and even a place or two where you can dance your way late into the night. Just walk along Kenting Rd after dusk and let your senses guide you. The liquor store has some nice surprises, and yes, you are allowed to open a bottle pretty much anywhere you want - on the road or at the beach.

kenting road at night, nightmarketThe main road at around 9pm

Outside of town, options are limited but they exist. Eluanbi has cold beer, beetle nuts, hard liquor and cigarettes. Hengchun is the place to go for KTVs. If you plan to spend the night under the stars in Jialeshui, bring your own juice. There's a place that sells beer but it's overpriced, and they close very early.

alcohol truck kentingA "Booze Truck" on the main road

Spring Scream Outdoor Music Festival

If you visit Taiwan in April, make sure you don't miss Spring Scream Music Festival. This massive outdoor musical event features bands both from Taiwan and overseas. Last time I went in 2013, it lasted 4 days, there were around 300 bands playing on 8 stages, and the ticket was 1500NT$. 

eluanbi kenting hengchun taiwanEluanbi plains near the Lighthouse is where Spring Scream Outdoor Music Festival is held each year.

Getting there and away

The bad news for those of you who want to visit Taiwan's southern part is that the train doesn't go all the way down to Kenting - it will only take you as far as Kaohsiung.

The good news is that long-distance buses from TaipeiTaichung and other big cities around Taiwan like Tainan, and Taoyuan are cheap, comfortable, and they even travel at night.

Another option is to take the train to Kaohsiung, and then take a local bus to Kenting. Buses leave frequently from Kaohsiung train station. At Kaohsiung train station, just walk outside and you'll find a couple of private companies that offer shuttle / bus / taxi transportation to Hengchun, Kenting, and Jialeshui, for all range of prices. Cheap equals slow and uncomfortable. More expensive equals fast and comfortable. 

Kaohsiung HSR Station to Kenting
There are also buses linking the HSR (High-Speed Rail) station in Kaohsiung to Hengchun and Kenting. There are English signs at the HSR station and you'll have absolutely no problem finding your way to the bus stop. Read more about the Kenting Express Bus.

Getting around

I only have 3 words for you: GET A SCOOTER! 

There is no better way to travel around Kenting and explore the little beaches surrounding the southern tip of Taiwan than on a scooter. Here are the reason why:

  • renting a scooter is cheap and easy (around 10US$/day)
  • traffic can be alienating (for cars) on weekends 
  • you can park free anywhere
  • you can feel the wind on your face and smell the ocean water
  • easier to wander through narrow alleys in small villages 
  • and so much more... (I just love scooters!)

Arrange Kenting Hotel Reservations here.

There are also local buses which link Hengchun, Nanwan, Kenting village, Eluanbi, Sail Rock, Jialeshui, and Manzhou. Buses are only a couple of dollars and are a great way to meet locals and travel at a slower pace.

Hitchhiking in Kenting?
It's not 100% safe (like eating steak or pretzels), but it's fun, free, and IT REALLY WORKS! I've hitchhiked dozens of times all over Kenting, Pingtung, and the southern tip of Taiwan, early in the morning, late at night, even at 3am, and I've never had any issue. You can hitchhike pretty much anywhere in Taiwan - except on highways. No better ways to meet locals, and practice your Mandarin!

taiwanese women riding a scooterLocal women ride a scooter in Maobitou village

Map of Kenting

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