Straddling Taiwan’s southern tip and bounded by sea on three sides, KENTING NATIONAL PARK (墾丁國家公園; kěndīng guójiā gōngyuán) attracts millions of visitors each year, lured by its warm tropical climate and magnificent white-sand beaches. The park covers most of the Hengchun Peninsula, which sits at the confluence of fault lines and tectonic plates. As a result, the peninsula has been pushed, pulled and twisted into a complex network of low-lying mountains, grassy meadows, steep cliffs, sand dunes and elaborate coral formations. Despite its remarkably varied natural scenery, much of it is overlooked by visitors, most of whom relish the amusement-park atmosphere of the main tourist area around Kenting Town and nearby Nanwan. With so many tourists clinging to these more developed spots, much of the park remains relatively quiet.
The park’s beaches are definitely its biggest draw and, although the ones closest to Kenting Town and Nanwan are overrated (and often overcrowded), it’s not hard to find your own stretch of fine white sand in a more secluded setting. While Kenting is no Ibiza, it can be entertaining at night and is also known as Taiwan’s premier surfing destination. Kenting’s busy season starts in May and lasts through September, but weekends can be crazy year-round. To avoid the crowds visit midweek March to May, when it should be warm enough to lounge on the beach in relative peace.