White sand beaches. Wild monkeys. Hiking. Beautiful sunsets. Warm weather. Kenting. My mom and I spent about 2 nights there a few years ago and it was wonderfully relaxing. We stayed at the Chateau Beach Resort 墾丁夏都沙灘酒店, which is right on the beachfront. Our hotel room was about a 2-3 minute walk from the beach, which was just perfect. Accommodations come paired with a dinner buffet. The hallways are bright with a ton of sunshine–I distinctly remember Stacey Kent’s “Ice Hotel” playing continuously throughout the hotel. Ironically, there’s no better song I can think of for a day on the beach.
We arrived in the afternoon and decided to take advantage of the huge sunshine. Jumped into our swimsuits, and lounged on beach chairs for a good hour or two, with a kiwi smoothie for company. My mom’s friend suggested that we try to hike to the top of Dajianshan [大尖山, which means “big pointy mountain”] before sunset. So, we hired a taxi to drop us off at the trail entrance. It was personally quite daunting for me to do any sort of hike, especially one that supposedly leads to the peak of a mountain.
The peak is about 4400 feet, and a one-way trip is about 90 minutes (?) with stops and some crying about turning back since it was getting too high up. The veil of butterflies flitting about was a nice distraction from the gain in elevation though! Plenty of vibrantly-colored flowers to boot as well. Beware of the mosquitoes though…I think I left with about 6 bites. We also traversed through some shallow canyons, which was quite fun.
Once we reached the top, we were incredibly lucky to catch a family of mountain goats on the peak to our right! About 5 fuzzy, black goats munching on tender greens. Pretty adorable. 🙂 And even more serendipitous was seeing wild monkeys! A small group of them, about 300 feet away. The alpha monkey was standing at the highest point, looking right at us. Like a king surveying his lands. The end of the trail leads to an observation tower, which makes viewing all this wildlife a lot easier than if we had to balance on the edge of the cliff to view them.
I’ll let you decide if the view is worth it or not–you’ll just have to hike it for yourself! I thought it was pretty. Nothing *spectacular* though. The rest of Kenting is pretty flat, but very green. We could even seen Eluanbi Lighthouse in the distance.
As the sun was already sitting low on the horizon, we wanted to make it back down before it got dark. No taxis to hail on our return trip, so we actually walked most of the highway down to the city. A little steep at times, but the whole 4 hours of hiking made for an awesome workout. At certain points on the way down to Kenting, we could see Chuanfanshih [船帆石, or “sail rock”, since it looks like a sail] among the colorful buildings of the town.
By the time we returned to the hotel, we were famished, grimy, and pockmarked with mosquito bites. Showers always feel the best after these kinds of days. My mom and I were more than ready for the buffet by the time we headed down to dinner. Disappointment would be an understatement for how we felt when we found out that it was a seafood buffet. So we spoke to the chefs, and they agreed to make us a set meal. It was at most…decent. Best part was the fresh bamboo shoot with mayonnaise. Mmm. Such a flawless pairing. The 粽子 [zong zi], or sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, were pretty good too.
Unsatisfied, we went to the Kenting Night Market in search of other goodies to eat. Boy oh boy were there a lot of tourists! The most we could do was shuffle along. Got some fresh grilled corn, stinky tofu, and even a cheap massage! Not a bad way to end the night.
All of the next day was spent in Kenting National Park. We took a short 1-2 hour tour through 佳樂水 [Jia Le Shui] park. Lots of coral reefs and interesting rock formations to be found there. Seal-shaped rocks, rocks with faces, turtle rocks…rocks galore! The most stunning aspect for me was seeing the thunderstorm that was brewing to the east. Rain pouring on the other side of 屏東 [ping dong] province, with occasional flashes of lightning.
The wind was picking up where we were and a short shower passed through, leaving us with some dew on our skin. Our tour dropped us off at a section of reef, so that we could get down and climb out over the rocks to see tide pools. Really beautiful water out there! Saw a couple of small fish and urchins. The rocks were so sharp though. I felt like Mulan and crew, training to walk on these small outcrops that were more or less the surface area of my foot.
We safely returned to the entrance of the park, and headed on our way to Eluanbi Lighthouse. The white-washed walls reminded me of Santorini. Pretty scenic area, with soft, rolling green hills.
When we got back to the hotel, my mom and I were ravenous. No free breakfast at this hotel, and it was mid-afternoon. We caught the tail-end of restaurant service, ordering a mediocre pizza and a rather tasty strawberry smoothie. Hit the beach again for a bit, since the weather was just so beautiful. Cotton candy clouds, deep blue sky, and sunshine in 80-degree weather. As it neared sunset, my mom and I decided to take a trail close to our hotel (I believe?) that runs the perimeter of Kenting. I honestly can’t say where the trail begins or ends, but it’s somewhere in Kenting. Beautiful sunset there: mountains and the bay in the background.
Anywhoo, Kenting is beautiful and you should go. That’s all I have to say. Our time felt a bit short, so I’d suggest giving it at least 3 nights (or more!). 😉