20 Awesome Things to Do in Kenting National Park, Taiwan

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Kenting National Park in Pingtung county lies at tropical, southern tip of Taiwan. It is the country’s prime holiday spot, attracting long weekend crowds to its golden beaches.

There’s a whole lot more to Kenting than just the beach, from scuba diving and other water activities to night markets, capybaras, hikes in pristine nature.

In this article, I’ll introduce a more enough Kenting sights and activities to fill many weekends – take your pick and start planning your next vacation in the sun! I’ve also got a more general guide to visiting Kenting on my other website, TaiwanObsessed.

Kenting National Park Quick Tips

Here are some general tips for planning your Kenting trip.

When to Visit

A densely crowded beach in Kenting with a sea of colorful beach umbrellas
April long weekend beach crowds
  • Kenting is tropical, so it’s warm enough to swim in the sea year-round.
  • Winter is very quiet and crowd-free. Spring, and especially the long weekend at the beginning of April, are very popular, so try to avoid weekends. Summer is also busy but oppressively hot. Fall is also lovely and crowd-free.
  • Spring Scream and some other past music festivals made Kenting the country’s spring break party capital. Nowadays, the local government puts on a free music festival on Kenting Main Beach on that weekend.

Getting There

A Kenting bus parked at a bus stop
Kenting Express shuttle bus at Fangliao
  • The best way to get to Kenting is to take the Kenting Express shuttle bus from Zuoying HSR station in Kaohsiung. The ride takes 2-3 hours.
  • If you’re coming from the east coast of Taiwan, take the train to Fangliao, where you can board the above bus. Buy your ticket here in Fangliao, then cross the street and catch the bus here.
  • Once you’re there, either stay put at the beach you chose or explore the national park on the network of local buses. You can buy a day pass for these buses (same link as the Kenting Express bus above). See a map of the bus routes here.
  • You can also rent electric bikes (no license needed) or scooters (IDP needed) from several shops in Kenting village.


Looking down a long stretch of beach with no one on it and trees and grass in the foreground
Kenging Main Beach (shot from my hotel room!)
  • Hengchun in the largest town in the area. You’ll drive through it just before reaching the national park. Three of the local bus lines start here.
  • Kenting Main Beach/Village is in the middle of the national park. It has the highest concentration of hotels and restaurants, plus Kenting Night Market. The beach is nice but swimming is not technically allowed.
  • To the west of Kenting Main Beach, South Bay (Nanwan) is a smaller beach which allows swimming. Further west, Houbihu is the main snorkeling/scuba spot, Baishawan Beach is more remote, and National Museum of Marine Biology (Kenting Aquarium) is quite a ways down the coast.
  • Each of Kenting Main Beach, Sail Rock Beach (Chuafang Rock) is another swimmable beach, while Eluanbi Lighthouse is at the actual southern tip of Taiwan.
  • After the lighthouse, the road follows the coast north past some coastal parks, then loops back to Hengchun and Kenting Main Beach.

Where to Stay in Kenting

The inside of a somewhat dark hotel room with bed and glass door with view of the sea
My room with sea view at Kenting Moon Bay Hotel

For even more details and suggestions than I’ll provide here, please visit my Kenting accommodation guide.

Kenting Main Beach (墾丁大街) is the most popular place to stay in Kenting. It has the most restaurants, hotels, a nice beach, and night market.

I recommend Kenting Space Capsule (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for low budget or Kenting Moon Bay Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for mid-range travelers.

For a resort option, I recommend Caesar Park Kenting (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor). The resort has a pool and direct access to a small beach called Xiaowan, which allows swimming and has a beach bar.

Looking out from a hotel patio with chairs and tables out at a pool and a mountain peak beyond
Gloria Manor Kenting

Gloria Manor (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is the most luxurious hotels in all of Taiwan – it’s in a secluded spot up the hill from town.

At South Bay, the first beach the bus will pass when arriving at Kenting, I recommend First Nanwan Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), Meet You Nanwan (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for families, or Cat at Greece (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

At Sail Rock beach, I recommend Sasa Nor Lamour B&B (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for proximity to the beach, Red Garden Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for Balinese vibes, and Kenting 4 Sisters Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) or Fullon Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) for a fancier getaway.

Things to Do in Kenting

 Now it’s time to get down to business – what are the best things to do in Kenting National Park? I’ll start with Kenting Main Beach, then sections on Hencgchun and the areas to the west and east of Main Beach.

Kenting Main Beach Area

Kenting Main Beach goes by many names: Kenting, Kenting village, 墾丁大灣 (Kenting Big Bay), or 墾丁大街 (Kenting Main Street).

You could enjoy a whole weekend stay in Kenting National Park without actually leaving the main beach area. Here are some ways to pass the time.

Stroll Kenting Main Beach

A crowd of people on a beach that's almost dark, with a beach hotel behind and orange sky from the sunset
Kenting Main Beach at sunset

Kenting Main Beach (墾丁海水浴場) is the longest beach in Kenting National Park, at almost 2 km from end to end.

While there are no lifeguards and swimming isn’t technically allowed here, some people will still play in the water, especially at the far ends where no one will notice. Because of the rule, the beach here is pleasantly free of motorboats and jetskis like the other beaches in the park. It’s especially nice around sunset.

The main town is just up from the eastern half of the beach – locals call it “Kenting Main Street” (墾丁大街).  

From the eastern end of the beach, you can follow a small road then path to the secret Lover’s beach (情人灘, here) on a cape called Frog Rock.

Watch the Sunset at Small Bay Beach Bar

Looking down on a beach with a row of colorful bench chairs, beach in front of them, and sun setting over the coast beyond
Sunset from Xiaowan Beach Bar

Small Bay (小灣 or Xiaowan) is a small beach just east of Main Beach and Frog Rock. It is mainly used be Caesar Park and Howard Resort, both of which have private paths to it.

However, the general public can swim here, too, and there’s even a proper Beach Bar (rare in Taiwan!) Umbrellas can be rented for small fee.

To get to the this beach, just walk east along the highway through Kenting town. Just past the end of town and the night market, watch for an upright surfboard sign on the beach side of the road. Beside it, there’s a short staircase down to the beach bar and beach.

Have a Cocktail at Kenting Night Market

A young Taiwanese man with no short on pouring  a cocktail behind a stall full of liquor bottles
One of many cocktail stalls in Kenting Night Market

Kenting Night Market is Taiwan’s southernmost night market. It is also the only night market in the country that has decidedly beach party vibes.

There’s no other night market where you can see vendors wearing beach attire. It definitely has the highest concentration of take-away cocktail stalls, many of which blast electronic music to set the vibe.

Locals will tell you that Kenting Night Market is “expensive”. As a visitor, though, you probably won’t notice any difference from other night markets in Taiwan.

The night market runs along either side of the highway in the town area. Click here to find my recommendations on what to eat at Kenting Night Market.

Get into Nature at Kenting National Forest Recreation Area

Looking down on a jungle, with the sea in the background and a coastal mountain on the right
Looking over the jungle canopy

While Kenting itself is a national park, it also has a National Forest Recreation Area (墾丁國家森林遊樂區) inside it (other famous National Forest Recreation Areas in Taiwan include Alishan and Taipingshan).

The park features walking trails through the jungle (I spotted many macaques!) and several coral reef tunnels and caves. The best one is Fairy Cave. Another highlight is the tall viewing tower, which provides a commanding view of the whole coast, jungle canopy, and surrounding mountains. Budget around 2 hours of walking to visit these.

The park is only a 7-minute (uphill) drive from the western end of Kenting town (watch for the large arch entrance gate). Unfortunately, buses don’t go up there and the road is too steep for electric bikes, so you’ll have to try to find a ride in town. Entrance is TWD 150.

Hengchun Area

Hengchun is the largest town in the Kenting area. You’ll drive through it just before reaching the national park. There are a few things to do in and around Henchun. It’s also the starting point of the shuttle bus orange, blue, and green lines, so it’s a transportation hub.

Make Capybara Friends at Capybara Paradise

A red Japanese style shrine but instead of gods it has statues of capybaras
A shrine dedicated to capybaras

In the last few years, capybaras (the world’s largest rodent, from South America) have become hugely popular in Taiwan. There are dozens of places to meet capybaras around Taiwan, but this spot in Kenting is one of the best.

Luyu Island Capybara Ecological Park (墾丁鹿ㄦ島水豚生態園區, here, also called Kenting Capybara Paradise) is a small capybara petting zoo along the highway just north of Hengchun (you’ll pass it about 10 minutes before reaching Kenting).

I enjoyed this capybara center more than others because it wasn’t too busy, there were lots of capybaras, and there’s even a capybara shrine. The capybaras are surprisingly chill creatures. And, if you really want to get down to business, you can pay extra to swim in a pool with the capybaras!

There are also a few sika deer and giant tortoises on site. The ticket includes a discount on ice cream at the end.

Meet Sika Deer at Kenting Paradise of Deer

Looking down at a spotted sika deer who is looking up at the camera with ears sticking up and another one lying on the ground behind it, both next to a wooden fence
Sika deer

Near the capybara place, Kenting Paradise of Deer (鹿境梅花鹿生態園區) is a very similar place but more focused on the deer (although they have a few capybaras, too.

While Taiwan’s sika deer are beautiful creatures, I don’t love visiting them at tourist attractions like this. They can be become a little aggressive when trying to get the food you’re given to feed them, so young children are sometimes afraid of them.

Anyways, if you’re into deer, they do sell some cute deer stuffies, and of course, ice cream, too.    

See the Henchun Old City Gates, Old Street, and Night Market

A brick gate structure with arched passageway at the bottom, Chinese characters, and second floor
One of Hengchun’s old gates

For history buffs, Hengchun has some of the best-preserved old city gates in Taiwan. Henchun South Gate is the one you’re most likely to pass on the way through town – it’s in the middle of a traffic circle. But there are also north, east, and west ones.

Hengchun Old Street (恆春古城魅力商圈) has lots of food stalls in the daytime, while Hengchun Night Market (恆春夜市) is on Sundays only. It’s more local than Kenting Night Market.

West of Main Beach

You can ride the Kenting shuttle blue line to explore several spots along the coast west of Kenting Main Beach.

Be Lazy at South Bay

A reclining beach chair and small tree on the beach shot from behind, with colorful umbrellas on the beach in front of it
Grab a beach chair at Nanwan

South Bay (南灣 or Nanwan) is a smaller beach west of Kenting Main Beach. If arriving in Kenting by bus or car, you’ll pass South Bay first before reaching Main Beach.

South Bay is popular for lying under umbrellas on the beach, swimming, and water activities. There’s a small bar on the beach. Right across the highway, there’s one convenience store and around 20 small guesthouses.

South Bay is close enough to Main Beach that you can easily hop on a bus for five minutes to go to the night market. But it’s small enough that you barely have to do any walking.

One downside of this beach is the nuclear power plant on the side of the bay – just try not to think about it…

Besides the blue shuttle, the orange one also stops here before heading towards Hengchun.

Feast on Seafood at Houbihu Harbor

A large harbor building with habor in front of it filled with blue and white Taiwanese fishing boats
Houbihu Hrbor

Houbihu Harbour (後壁湖) is the main fishing harbor in Kenting National Park. You can see collections of traditional Taiwanese fishing boats docked in the harbor.

The main reason to come here is to eat a meal of super fresh sashimi and other seafoods. Two buildings here contain around a dozen simple seafood restaurants.

Unfortunately, you can just buy a snack, like a small tray of sashimi just to try it (like at most other seafood markets in Taiwan). When I visited, I found none of the restaurants would let me do this, even though they had pictures advertising such dishes.

The sashimi prices were super low, but all of the restaurants have a minimum charge – basically they want you do sit down for a full meal, not just one dish or plate of sashimi to go like at many other seafood markets in Taiwan.

There are also several popular seafood restaurants in Houbihu village nearby, like this one, this one, and this one.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Houbihu

A white sand beach with a chunk of white coral balanced on a stick in the sand, and some people snorkeling in the sea in the background
Snorkelers at Houbihu

The coast just south of Houbihu is the main snorkeling and scuba diving spot in Kenting National Park.

I don’t recommend to just show up at one of the shops, though, as they aren’t near the beach. Instead, book your snorkeling or scuba experience online, then follow the instructions for how to meet up with them.

Overlook the Coast at Maobitou Park

A coastal lookout point with two staircases going up it, vegetation on it, and around a dozen people on it enjoying the view
Coastal lookout at Maobitou

Maobitou (貓鼻頭公園) is a coastal park which is very popular among large tour groups (for that reason, I didn’t really love it).

A short walk there leads to a few cliff-top observation decks. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Kenting Main Beach and even Eluanbi Lighthouse.

Because mao (貓) means “cat”, there are a few cat statues, and I did manage to spot one (live) cat by the snack stalls.

Get Away from it all at Baishawan Beach

Looking down a beach with a few dozen people on it
Baishawan or “White Sand Bay”

Baishawan is the most remote of the “main” beaches on the Kenting coast. Compared to Nanwan, Main Beach, or Sail Rock Beach, it only has a handful of accommodations and no 7-Eleven (the horror!)

This beach’s main claim to fame is that a scene from Life of Pi was filmed here (director Ang Lee, one of the most well-known Taiwanese celebrities, was actually a native of Pingtung!)

Don’t expect a totally pristine beach, though. It still has the usual umbrellas, jet skis, and a bit of trash.

Meet Sea Creatures at National Museum of Marine Biology

A large water fountain with giant whale statues in it and two kids playing in the water on the side
Whale fountain at Kenting Aquarium

National Museum of Marine Biology (國立海洋生物博物館 or “Kenting Aquarium”, see official site) is the largest aquarium in Taiwan.

Some highlights at the sprawling complex beluga whales, a simulated underwater shipwreck, a huge tank filled with sharks and rays, and whale fountains for kids to splash around in.

A sunken ship with fish swimming around it
Recreated shipwreck

While it is undeniably large, I personally found that a lot of the space there is just filler and the facilities are getting old. I had a better experience at the smaller but much newer Xpark in Taoyuan, which is also much easier to get to.

You can also feed penguins there or even spend the night in the aquarium!

Kenting Aquarium is quite a ways down the coast from the rest of Kenting. It feels like you’ve left the national park, but it’s actually still in the park because a thin strip of national park extends down the coast to it.

The blue line does go all the way there, but it’s a long ride.

East of Main Beach

There are a few more attractions along the coast east of Kenting Main Beach. The Orange Line shuttle bus and Kenting Express from Zuoying (Kaohsiung) go as far as Eluanbi Lighthouse before turning back, so that’s the furthest most tourists make it.

If you drive, you go further up the coast and even make a big loop back to Hengchun and Kenting Main Street.

Beach Vacay at Sail Rock Beach

Looking up a long beach with no one on it
Before the crowds hit

Sail Rock Beach (船帆石沙灘 or Chuanfang Beach) is named after a large sail-shaped rock down the coast from it. The beach is similar in size and popularity to South Bay, but minus the nuclear plant.

You’ll find all the beach activities here, too, but no bar (don’t worry, there’s a 7-11). There are also a couple dozen guesthouses and a few resorts near the beach.

The downside is that you’ll have to travel a little further to get here – or you may see its remoteness as a plus.

See Kenting’s Prettiest Beach at Shadao Ecological Preserve

Looking up a coast with some pools or water formed by coral in the foreground and a beautiful deserted beach in the background
Coral pools with the ecological preserve behind

The most beautiful beach I’ve seen in Kenting National Park is at Shadao Ecological Reserve (砂島生態保護區). There’s only one catch – you can’t go on it. This is an ecological/wildlife reserve, including a nesting ground for sea turtles.

Still, you can admire the beach from the small parking lot here. You can also play on the coast next to the parking lot, which has some cool water pools formed by coral reef – just watch your step!

Stand on the Tip of Taiwan at Eluanbi Lighthouse

A white walled lighthouse
Historic lighthouse

Eluanbi Lighthouse is Taiwan’s most famous landmarks and a symbol of Kenting National Park. The historic lighthouse is fortified (to protect it from attacks in the past by local aboriginals) and dates to 1883.

The large grassy hill around the lighthouse offers stunning views along the coast. You can also follow a series of trails down through the grounds of the former Spring Scream Music Festival. One of them leads to an observation deck on the true southern tip of Taiwan.

There’s a TWD 60 entrance fee and it’s closed on Mondays. The Kenting Express from Zuoying (Kaohsiung) and the Kenting Shuttle Orange Line end here before turning back.

View Coastal Sand Dunes at Longpan and Fengchuisha

A coastal view of sand dunes spilling down to the blue sea
Fengchuisha Lookout

If you drive, you can go further up the coast to Longpan Park (龍磐公園). A short boardwalk trail leads to an impressive viewpoint of the coast.

Past it, another view with coastal sand dunes is at Fengchuisha (風吹砂).

Go Surfing at Gangkou Beach

Waves rising on a brown sandy beach with some surfers visible out on the water at the back left
Surfers at Gangkou Beach

The best place to go surfing in Kenting is at remote Gangkou Beach (港口海灘). There are a handful of surfer’s hostels like this one in a tiny village nearby.

Swimming is not technically allowed on the beach due to the strong current.

You can get here by riding the Green Shuttle Bus from Hengchun. It’s one of the last stops. The terminal stop is Jialeshui, a coastal park which few tourists ever make it to.

Swim Under Waterfalls at Qikong

Nick Kembel in a pool of water, facing the camera, holding himself up by holding onto a rope with one hand, with a waterfall spilling into the pool behind him
That’s me swimming at Qikong Waterfall

After Gangkou, Highway 200 veers inland and loops back to Hengchun. By car or scooter, you can veer off the highway to Qikong Waterfall (七孔瀑布, literally 7 Holes Waterfall).

This is a stream with a series of waterfalls which you can swim under. It only takes a few minutes to follow the trail up through the jungle to the first one, but the second and third ones are the best. You’ll need to use the ropes to pull yourself up some steeper parts.

Looking down at a series of waterfalls from a pool of water above them
Natural infinity pools at Qikong waterfalls

The swimming holes are natural infinity pools, where you can gaze into the jungle from the top of a waterfall. This is a true hidden gem!

An old man charges a small fee (20 for scooter or 60 for car) for parking here at the trailhead. You could get here by bus if you take the Green Shuttle from Hengchun to Chunxing Rd. Intersection and then walk 45 minutes up the road to the trailhead.

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