Taiwan’s rugged coastline between Danshui and Keelung falls within the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area (北海岸及觀音山國家風景區; běihǎiàn jí guānyīn guójiāfēngjǐngqū), easily accessible from Taipei and a popular destination for day-trips. The northeast corner has the best scenery, with highlights including the Dharma Drum Mountain monastery, Yeliu Geopark’s fascinating rock formations and the entrancing modern sculptures at the Juming Museum.
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Just to the north of the fishing village of YELIU (野柳; yěliŭ) lies Yeliu Geopark (野柳地質公園; yĕliŭ dìzhì gōngyuán), home to a series of bizarre geological formations. The park lies on Yeliu Cape and commands stunning views across the bay to Jinshan and Yangmingshan beyond – hike to the end of the headland and you’ll usually have the place to yourself. Unique rock formations litter the cape, the result of years of weathering and seismic activity – the small visitor centre at the entrance shows twelve-minute English videos on the geology of the area. From here, well-marked trails lead along the 1.7km headland past all of the most famous formations: rocks that resemble tofu and ginger, the unique and mystifying candle rocks and the ubiquitous mushroom rocks, the most famous of which is the Queen’s Head (女王頭; nǚwángtóu) – the original has become so weathered there’s a fibre-glass replica.