Shitiping 石梯坪 or (“Stone Steps” in Mandarin) is a small campground in Taiwan’s East Coast National Scenic Area. The campground sits on a beautiful stretch of rocky geology formed by a mixture of coral reefs, sea erosion and cliffs. The waters of the reef features some great diving and snorkeling in clear waters.
About a 6 hour drive from Taipei, Shitiping is located about 70km south of Hualien on Highway 11, not quite half way to Hualien’s sister coastal city, Taitung. It’s probably one of my favorite campgrounds in the world, and definitely one of my favorite places in Taiwan.
Set amongst the rugged walls of the Coastal Mountain Range, the campground is a perfect blend of camping comfort, without being too developed. It has several nice, grassy areas with some shade trees and landscaping that compliments the unkept, more rugged areas. The campsites themselves are mostly large or medium sized wooden A-frame structures always set up near clean, well supplied bathroom/showers (with hot water!!!)
The campsite would be nice by itself, but the coastline is what draws me! Much like Yeliu or Heping Island in the north, Shitiping has a rugged coastline formed by erosion and raised coral reefs. There’s a good day’s worth of exploring the nooks and crannies (if you’re a biology/geology nerd like me), and if you’re a good swimmer, there’s cliffs to be jumped off, and more nooks and crannies to be snorkeled. (But be warned, the waves and tides on the east coast can be strong and the coral is sharp, hard, and dangerous)
Connected by a walkway to the campground, is the small fishing port of Shitiping. Here can be found a small market with very fresh seafood and a few basic restaurants with whatever the fishermen brought in that day, cooked to perfection. 13km north is the closest supermarket, 7-11 and gas station, in the town of Fongbin 豐濱. The campground itself doesn’t have any food or beverage supplies, so it’s best to stock up in Fongbin. The supermarket has everything you could need including bar-b-que supplies, sunscreen, toiletries, etc.
Just south on Highway 11 are two interesting caves. The first is the Yuetong Bat Cave 月洞, a small cave on the mountain side that you can pay $100NT to ride a boat through and see the bats. I’ve never actually taken the ride, but it looks cool!
Baxian Caves 八仙洞
The other is the very famous Baxian Buddhist Caves 八仙洞. There, you’ll find several caves set amongst the mountain side, all with places of worship for the Buddha, Guanyin, and various other Buddhist figures. The main cave is also the easiest to reach, not a far walk from the visitors center. It’s a large cavern that said to resemble the shape of southern Taiwan from the inside, and has some Thai style golden Buddha statues.
In the back, there is a statue of Guanyin pouring real cave water for visitors to drink. (I had mouthful and didn’t get sick, but drink at your own discretion) Further up the mountain are several more caves, and beautiful views of the coast, but I would honestly advise you to skip them on a hot day.
The caves also have a prehistoric history. Archeologists have found the remains of a culture 30,000 years old! Some of the artifacts, and other information about the area can be found in the small visitors center near the road.
Another option in the area is to drive into the Rift Valley on 花64, a beautiful road that cuts through the mountains from Gangkou Village 港口村 to the hot spring town of Ruishui 瑞穗. There can be found Sixty Stone Mountain, Ruishui River Rafting, and many other diversions, but the drive is an attraction in itself.
Shitiping is about 70km south of Hualien on Highway 11. It takes about 6 hours to drive from Taipei. There are buses that run the east coast, but I’ve never used them. Try searching for buses 8119, 9101, 1127, 1140, from Hualian or this bus company. There are lots of more creative ways to get there, like taking a train to Hualian or Taidong and renting a scooter or a bike, email me if this really interests you.
The campground doesn’t have any food, and only one vending machine for drinks. Stock up at the 7-11 and supermarket back in Fongbin (the supermarket is next to the gas station, on the road that goes inland towards Guangfu, not on Highway 11).
The wooden huts have electric lights and outlets and there are nice bathrooms with hot water. Huts cost ~$300NT plus $100 per person. There are no tent rentals. Be sure to go into the Visitors Center when you pay for your campsite to get maps, flyers and other information on the entire east coast.
If you’re not into camping, there are a few B&Bs adjacent to the campground that look wonderful. There are also quite a few cheaper ones to the south on Highway 11.