I had never heard of a geopark, a UNESCO-designated area containing sites of geological importance, before moving to Taiwan. After I discovered such a thing existed, I was not exactly eager to go explore the one in Taiwan even though my husband, who is obsessed with rock climbing, was just itching to.
You see, I am just not that into geology. In college, I took a geology class in which I was assigned to drive along the side of a road and find "interesting" rocks to draw and that killed it for me.
No 1: rocks [more like pebbles] from the side of the road are not that interesting, trust me
No 2: I cannot draw, even a rock
In the end, I bribed my friend Elena with coffee from a coffee shop that gives you dark chocolate covered coffee beans with every espresso and we went on a little road trip and she drew my rocks for me.
That said, I set aside my trepidation of going out of my way to look at some rocks, which my husband kept referring to as "mushroom rocks" and "ginger rocks", and we made a three hour trek to explore Yehliu Geopark, a limestone cape in northern Taiwan that stretches out into the East China Sea.
And I gotta admit that I was wrong all along: rocks rock!
The bus ride to the coast was winding and twisting and absolutely beautiful. Taiwan's northern coast is made up of jagged edges, steep cliffs and breathtaking panoramas.
When we finally made it to Yehliu, I was worried. Tour buses full of people wearing matching shirts and hats were everywhere. I thought these people were insane for two reasons: first, they were on a bus tour and wearing matching hats and shirts and second, they actually paid a tour company to take them to look at rocks.
But it only took two minutes to understand that this geopark was so much more than a few pebbles on the side of the road.
Trails meander up and down the cape. For the first five minutes of walking, the trails are clogged with people taking tacky tourist pictures. But we only had to wander past the horde and suddenly we had network after network of trails all to ourselves. The trails provide stunning views of the "beach", which looks like the moon [or at least what I think the moon looks like] due to year after year of wind erosion.
We picnicked on a steep hill and watched the rough seas and container boats and clouds that rolled in and out. And I absolutely fell in love, with Taiwan and yes, even with rocks.
- Admission to the park is 80 NT, which is $2.60 USD
- Park hours are from 7:30am - 5pm
- There is a visitor information center with English brochures
- Buses [Kuo Kuang Hao] leave Taipei from the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station every 15 minutes