There's a paradise in Southern Taiwan and it's called Kending 墾丁 (also spelled Kenting) . This small town located at the very southern tip of Taiwan has become a favorite place for locals and tourists to visit and enjoy. Whether you want to lay on the beach, swim in the warm blue ocean, scuba dive, surf, cycle, or just drive around in your car or on your motorcycle, Kending offers the perfect environment to enjoy the warm breeze and weather of southern Taiwan.
Kending is not only a town, it is an entire area that covers the very southern tip of the island. Visitors can enjoy sandy beaches, high bluffs with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, or brilliant green rice paddies. Kending is surrouned by several small townships that offer unique landscape or activities. By car or scooter these areas are never more than 20 minutes from each other.
Kending is easily accessible from west coast. There are 2 routes from Kaohsiung City.
1) Coastal Route: Starts at the Kaohsiung Airport on Route 17. Follow 17 along the coast and it eventually turns into Route 1. After a while the road turns into Route 26. Follow Route 26 all the way into Kending. If the ocean is on your right side, you are going the right way. The coastal route is about 100km from the airport. It is a favorite for those who want to scooter or ride their bicycle. The beginning portion of the ride is not pretty. You will ride through many industrial and fish farm areas that don't smell too nice. However, once you begin to see the mountains, the air begins to clear and the drive is much prettier.
2) Highway Route: (1.5 hours by car): From Kaohsiung, head south on Highway 1 until you see signs for Expressway 88. Follow Expressway 88 southbound for about 30 minutes. At the interchange for Highway 3, head on Highway 3 south until the end at Route 17. Head south on Route 17, which turns into Route 1, which turns into Route 26 into Kending.
3) By Bus: Busses leave Kaohsiung and head into Hengchun. Hengchun is still 10 km from the beaches in Kending. Many people rent scooters to finish the ride to their destinations.
4) By Train: Currently, the furthest you can get to Kending is to the town of Fangliao. Fangliao is still over 30 km away from Kending. Fangliao is a good options for cyclists who want to cut the ugly riding portion out of their ride to Kending.
5) Chicken buses: Near the Kaohsiung Train Startion close to the bus station, it is possible to find private vans/busses that fill up and make the trip to Kending for a few hundred NT. These vans usually have a tout calling out Kending. After just ask the price. Once the van fills up, they leave. It's faster than the bus as there are no stops.
There are a few beaches around the Kending area. Some are sandy and nice for sunbathing, and others are a little rocky but good for collecting shells and looking at marine life.
Baishawan Beach is very popular. It is famous for its use as a location for the movie "Life of Pi". It's a sandy beach with good swimming. You can camp there, rent an umbrella and even get some good food. It gets busy on weekends. Click HERE for more about Baishawan.
Another very popular and sandy beach is Nanwan (pictured above). Nanwan is not far from nuclear reactor that sits in Kending. The water is calm and blue and has a sandy bottom. Because this is the first beach everyone sees off Route 26, many Taiwanese park and stay here. The negative of this beach is the water activity. It is full of jet skis and banana boats, so it's not the quietest of places to be. It also can get extremely crowded on weekends.
Jialeshui is the surfers beach. (pictured below). Jialeshui has good surf but the beach can be rocky and then it drops off. It's good for a quick swim. Beware of the current. Click HERE for more on Jialeshui surfers beach.
There are a few other beach points along Route 26 once you get into Kending town. Pick one that suits you and enjoy the blue ocean!
There are a few scenic points to check out while you are in Kending. Most of them are along Route 26 as it wraps around the southern tip of Taiwan. A great way is by scooter so you can enjoy the ocean breeze and fresh air. Other like driving or cycling around the area.
The Chuhuo Scenic Area (fire from the ground) displays some holes of natural burning gas. There used to be many more of these fire holes however the number has dwindled and sometimes all you can see is one. The area is roped off for pictures. Admission is free.
Chuhuo is located on Route 200 which is off Route 26 BEFORE you enter Kending. Route 200 is a scenic road which beautiful views of mountains and farm fields.
The path down to Chuhuo Fire from the Ground and a view of the fire.
The scenery around Chuhuo is quite beautiful.
As you head south on Route 26, you will eventually come to the southern tip of Taiwan. There is a viewing point complete with a monument. The beach has a lot of coral so most just follow the boardwalk out to the viewing to get a few pictures.
There are signs for the Southern Most Point, but be aware, they are easy to miss.
Pictured above, the monument at Taiwan's most southern tip. Below is the entrance to the path which leads to the beach.
Below, vistiors congregate on the viewing deck. A view so the beach and the ocean from Taiwan's southern most point.
After the southern tip, Route 26 starts to incline and then opens up to some great vistas. These bluffs are gorgeous and make for great photos or just a relaxing place to hang out. From here you can see why Taiwan is Formosa. The blue ocean and green mountains mix with a big sky. It never gets old. These bluffs are great by bicycle or scooter.
FengChuiSha is on the Eastern side of Taiwan rigth off Route 26. Visitors have now wrapped their way around the southern portion of Taiwan.
Kending Town is really a busy strip of shops, restaurants, and small hotels. The strip is quite busy with traffic during the day, however, once dusk settles in, it turns into a bustling night market.
As you drive through Route 26, you will pass other little "town strips". Usually, these strips have a few small hotels, a 7-11, a dive shop, and maybe even a small restaurant.
Pictured below, Kending "downtown" strip during the day.
Kending town has many places to eat, get a snack, or stay the night. There is a Starbucks and McDonald's as well. Smokey Joe's is a popular Kaoshiung eatery and has a restaurant serving western food as well as a hotel on the strip.
Below, the Kending Dive Shop, and night market stalls covered up during the day.
Below is a view of DaJianShan. Once climbable, it is not blocked off from climbing. Also below, a gate to the National Park which loops above Kending and offers fabulous views.
There are many hostels, big hotels, small hotels, and B&Bs peppered around Kending. Prices rise on holidays and weekends. In recent days, B&Bs offer nice views and a relaxing beach town feeling.
The Caeser Park, Howard Beach, and Chateau Beach Resort are some of the well known, higher end big hotels around the Kending area.
There are several campsites past the Kending strip. There is also a campsite at the Happy Panda on Baishawan Beach.
Camp sites fill up on weekends and holidays so it is best to book in advance. The caming is car camping style.
Above is the Qing Shan Camp Area just past Kending town on Route 26. Below is the Happy Panda campsite at Baishawan Beach.