The Yeh Liu Geo Park is basically nature’s sea-erosion sculpture gallery where visitors can witness the strange and sometimes strikingly beautiful shapes that have been carved out of the rock by centuries of ocean waves. My grandparents had taken me here a couple decades ago, but back then, the park was just a parking lot next to the rock formations. Now, it is a fully developed national park tourist destination. An unexpected bonus for me was the gorgeous ocean-side hike at the park. Good thing I had my hiking boots on.
This was one of our Taiwan Tour Bus trips, which is a Taiwan government run tourism organization that provides all types of tours around the island, including the “independent tour” where your small group of travelers can basically hire a private driver and tour guide who will basically assist you in carrying out the itinerary at your own pace. Our driver came and picked us up at our doorstep in Taipei, drove us between and over mountains to the Yeh Liu Geopark, and told us we could hike at our own pace but recommended finishing in around 2-3 hours so we would have time to go try out a locals’ restaurant favorite.
Aside from the fancy sign at the front and the handy visitor’s center (with souvenir ink stamp for your travel journal), there were also some helpful signs that informed you what to do in case a monsoon “rogue wave” came crashing at you. Apparently, the trick is to squat, not run.
At first, we saw some sectioned off rock sculptures that actually looked like they were caste out of plastic, kind of like those amusement park fake rock cliff plastic stuff. I was worried that the development of the park had taken away from the natural glory of the place, but walking out a bit further, I saw that I was too quick to judge. Soon the manicured garden and paved pathways gave way to the natural rock formations, some of which were at different stages of the sculpting process.
The formations are strictly hands-ff, and there are plenty of park attendants wandering around with whistles keeping people off the rocks. Of course, people want to touch the strange natural carvings and children want to climb and jump on them, and surely, that would destroy them. I don’t remember such restrictions when I came with my grandparents back in the day, and I recall taking all sorts of photos touching or leaning against them. It’s a good thing they are trying to preserve these formations for people to enjoy and wonder over. So delicate walking between and by them is the way to go, unless you want a swarm of angry park attendants flying at you. I saw a little boy reaching out a hand to touch these rocks, and a shrill whistle sounded right away with an accompanying scream of “NO TOUCHY!” Yes, in English.
The most famous formation is the “Queen’s Head”, which is basically an amazingly elegant structure that inexplicably resembles Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. In order to take a picture with it, visitors have to get in line. Sadly, they didn’t quite set up the park for a picturesque background for the photo, as swarms of tourists are always walking back and forth behind it. Something I would suggest they consider in rethinking crowd control and enjoyment of the park. Nevertheless, my friends did their best to catch a shot of me and the Queen with as few people walking in the back as possible.
Apparently, the Queen’s Head’s neck has been getting thinner and thinner every year from erosion, and our tour guide informed us that there was quite the debate raging over whether or not to let it fall or to reinforce it to keep it from breaking. This rock is the icon of the park, and should it fall, it would be a loss for the park and its allure. If you ask me (and even if you don’t I’ll tell you), I say let it fall, since nature made it, nature should be allowed to break it. I agree with the camp that believes that reinforcing it with make it man-made, and the whole point of the thing is that it was untouched by people and yet was made into something so meaningful to people.
After admiring the sculptural art of nature, there’s more natural beauty to be explored and enjoyed if you follow the path and wander out on the little peninsula reaching out into the ocean. Hiking with an ocean view is definitely something on everyone’s bucket list, and Taiwan’s got plenty of these, with Yeh Liu having one of the best options on the island. This panorama is probably the best photo I took on this entire trip, and it perfectly captures the experience of hiking at Yeh Liu.
Every turn, climb, and drop in the path has a backdrop of breathtaking ocean and mountain coast views.
The climb to the viewing peak may seem like quite the task, but the view is definitely worth it in the end. Of course, there are plenty of stairs to climb, and sometimes, I wondered if the stairs were going to carry me straight off the side of a cliff.
At the top, there’s a beautiful look out point with tables and chairs. If I had known, I would have loved to bring some hot tea and snacks to spend an afternoon lounging at this peak enjoying the view. Definitely a plan I hope to carry out sometime in the future. Since the hike up there isn’t exactly a walk in the park, we had the whole platform to ourselves. Clearly, though, I was a little tired from the journey up.
After making it back to our tour guide who had been waiting for us outside the park, he took us to a restaurant that he said was a favorite of the locals, explaining that the restaurants near the park were just tourist traps full of expensive food that didn’t taste all that great or authentic to the area. So we took off to Hai Long Zhu (Ocean Dragon Pearl) seafood restaurant.
The food there was definitely local and definitely tasty, even for my picky American princess Whole Foods only diet. Granted, you have to accept a certain level of oil, salt, and MSG in order to stomach the whole deal. But the price was excellent. I remember that for about forty bucks for a family meal, they served us enough for like ten people. After that calorie killer Yeh Liu hike, I definitely pigged out.
For dessert, we got something like little ice popsicles in packages with fun flavors like taro, red bean, and peanut.
Next up, time to get Spirited Away at Jiu Fen.