National Park, Taiwan's first national park, is bounded by the Pacific
Ocean on three sides, the Pacific ocean to the east, the Taiwan Strait
to the west and Bashi Channel to the south. The Park embraces land both
above and below water. Located over an area of significant tectonic activity,
this part of Taiwan is home to many unique geological features, including
uplifted coral beds, ocean erosion, and fault line rifts. Geography and
tropical climate have together created a rich and varied natural canvas,
which today helps define Kenting's special place among Taiwan's national
parks. In addition to geology, natural attractions of particular interest
in the park include rarely seen coastal plants, the annual autumn overflight
of migratory birds from northern Asia, and beautiful living coral reefs.
Hengchuen peninsula on which the Kenting National Park is situated sits
at the confluence of fault lines and tectonic plates. The result is a
landscape that has been pushed, pulled, and twisted into its present complex
form. The Hengchuen rift valley, which runs north to south through the
area, cuts Kenting National Park into eastern and western sections. Ancient
coral beds are the principal geological feature in the western section,
with mountains in the north and gently rolling hills and coral beds in
the south. The eastern section comprises uplifted coral beds and limestone
crevasses, with the most easterly corner dotted with sand dunes, coral
protrusions, limestone caves, sinkholes, and stalactites.
geology of park land can be categorized roughly as sandy coastline (such
as Baisha, Nanwan, Kenting, Siaowan, Shadao, and Fengchueisha), ancient
coral beds (such as that along the western shoreline and along the Eluanbi
coast), rocky coastline (in the area north of Jialeshuei), limestone beds
(above coral encrusted shorelines in places such as Dapingding and Maobitou
as well as in the Eluanbi plateau), solitary rocky peaks (such as Menmaluo,
Dashanmu, Dajianshan, and Frog Rock), fault lines (at Maobitou and in
the area between Eluanbi and Fengchueisha), estuaries (of the Baoli and
Gangkou rivers), rivers and lakes (including the Gangkou River and Lungluan
Lake), and valleys (near Nanrenshan).
Special geological features within the National Park include sand islets
(a feature typically found with shallow, sandy coastlines); a 3-hectare
stretch of natural coral sand beach north of Eluanbi; the wave-pitted,
rocky coastline at Jialeshuei; and solitary promontories such as Dajian,
the remains of massive boulders stranded here when Hengchuen emerged from
beneath the ocean depths. These are some of Kenting's key landmarks.
in the tropics, Kenting¡¦s summer is long and pleasant, while
winter passes quickly and largely unnoticed. Precipitation is unevenly
dispersed through the year, with most rain falling from May through October.
Kenting's dry season runs from November through April. Nearly concurrent
with the dry season, from October through March, is the period when Kenting
comes under the influence of the northeastern monsoon. Climate and geography
together have endowed the area with a particularly rich ecology.
Vegetation in the park falls into two categories: coastal and upland.
Coastal flora includes belts of coral reef vegetation, grasses, bush,
and littoral forest. Upland flora includes belts of wetland, grassland,
scrub, and forest. The Nanrenshan monsoon forest, Sail Rock and Shiangjianwan
littoral forests, and uplifted coral forest are of particular interest
to visitors and are protected under permanent conservation programs.
Kenting's diverse foliage supports a wide variety of animal life, including
15 wild mammal species, 316 different types of birds, 59 varieties of
reptiles and amphibians, 2 species of freshwater fish, 216 different types
of butterflies, and a profusion of insect life. Come to the park between
autumn and spring to enjoy the annual visit of migratory birds. Kenting
is a preferred rest stop for many migratory species, including the brown
shrike, gray-faced buzzard, Chinese sparrow hawk, and numerous varieties
of water duck.
Ocean Marine Life
The Kenting National Park is the only national park in Taiwan to include
undersea areas within its boundary. The Kuroshio ("black current"),
which passes nearby, maintains temperatures in the waters around Kenting
at a relatively stable within the relatively stable range of 22~29oC year-round.
The small number of rivers in the area helps ensure crystal clear coastal
waters and creates an ideal environment for coral, which is found here
in abundance, as well as fish, crustaceans, and seaweed.
Kenting is home to beautiful natural reefs, built up by countless generations
of coral over thousands of years. Both types of coral, hermatypic (constructive)
and ahermatypic (non-constructive), can be found in the coastal waters
here. Hermatypic corals tend to live close to the ocean surface as they
need ample sunlight to thrive. Ahermatypic corals, however, live in deeper,
darker waters. In Kenting, you can also see both "soft" and
"stony" corals -- so named based on the firmness of their calcium
skeletons. It is mostly the stony corals which contribute to the building
of coral reefs. Coral is a key feature of the Kenting National Park, serving
as environmental bellwether for the area's delicately balanced ecosystems
as well as shelter for the massive population of fish, shellfish, crustaceans,
and more that calls the Kenting reefs home.
Researchers have identified 236 distinct species of coral within the Kenting
National Park. Soft corals, comprising a relatively small number of species
but accounting for the highest population numbers, are located offshore
in greatest concentrations between Houbihu Harbor and Dalaugu and between
Leidashr and Maobitou. The profusion of soft coral at Kenting is one of
the few concentrations of its kind in the world.
Seventeen prehistoric sites have been identified so far within Kenting
National Park. Most sites are situated on the eastern bank of the Shrniou
River and date back around 4,000 years. These represent some of the best
preserved prehistoric sites on Taiwan and include remains of fired pottery
typical of the Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures that once lived here.
Historical sites of a more recent vintage, such as slate slab aboriginal
houses in Nanrenshan and the lighthouse (built in 1882) at Eluanbi, should
also not be missed during your visit.
The Puyuma tribe is the predominant aboriginal (native) group on the Hengchuen
peninsula and today they are primarily engaged in hillside agriculture
and fishing. The Puyuma have well-developed traditional arts, which include
woodcarving and tattooing. The Ami, the dominant aboriginal tribe of eastern
Taiwan, reside in Hengchuen's lowlands and in coastal settlements. The
Hengchuen Amis comprises the southernmost branch of that tribe in Taiwan.
Modern-day immigration has also introduced members of the Siraiya Makatau
tribe, a group originally from the Tainan area, to the peninsula as well.