Heping Island Park (和平島公園: “Peace Island”) is my favorite place to go in Keelung. It is a small yet beautiful geopark situated north-east of the Keelung Harbor. It boasts magnificent views of the coastline, areas to bask in water and sand, and charming cafés. This is where to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Keelung (or Taipei, for that matter!). Here you can relax, slow down and enjoy Taiwan’s natural beauty.
The island displays the unique geological features of Taiwan’s northeast coast, where terrain has been sculpted through millions of years of erosion. If rocks are your thing (and even if they’re not), at Heping Island you can marvel at pedestal rocks (also known as mushroom rocks), chessboard (or tofu) rocks, marine caves and sea-erosion cliffs and platforms.
The island also has a special geopolitical history. It was once the settlement of the aboriginal Ketagalan Tribe, who mingled with the Ryūkyūan people of Okinawa. Heping Island was the first point of entry for Spanish explorers in the 16th and 17th century. The Dutch later followed, and were present in the region until driven out by the Koxinga Army in 1662. Some who ran away hid in the marine caves of Heping Island. Inscriptions of theirs have since eroded in what has become known as the Dutch Cave.
The island is now preserved for the public to enjoy. The park strives for the protection of the natural environment, education of the public on earth science and promotion of sustainable social and economic practices. The love and care with which the park is maintained is apparent; it is very clean and the facilities are excellent.
Heping Island has the perks of a swimming pool and beach rolled into one. Arguably its coolest feature is the Blue Ocean Pool – a partitioned sea water swimming pool where you can swim with the fish (and maybe some jellyfish… Bring your goggles!). It’s open year-round and is an amazing alternative to the public swimming pools (although probably significantly colder). Slightly further inland is the Kiddie Pool, which is very spacious. Between the two is the Summer Stay Beach – a sand-filled area with tables where you can make sand sculptures, have a picnic or lay out and pretend you are on an actual beach.
If you’re looking for something slightly more active than lying in the sand, I recommend the Mountain Trail! At about 400 meters long, it provides a pleasant jaunt around the island offering breathtaking coastal & geological views. Plus, it’s so easy. I enjoyed it so much I walked it twice. Take your friends! Take your kids! Take your grandmas!
Of course, there is also the Visitor Center. Made in the style of a European fortress in remembrance of the island’s history, it looms large. Its three floors are comprised of changing rooms, a delightful souvenir shop (where I was tempted to spend all of my money as they specialize in sustainable & local craft goods, for which I am a sucker), a multi-media room, and several eateries. The best parts of the building, if you ask me, are its lovely terraces (the top floor even has twinkle lights!). They offer great ambiance, sweeping views and positive gulpfuls of fresh air. However if you’re itching to get to the highest point in the park for the best views you can scour, you’re in luck because there’s another café up there! I have somehow managed to miss it thus far (it’s up a sneaky length of stairs), but plan to go as soon as I get the chance. It’s called the Radar Café.
One of my favorite things about this place is the outdoor café seating. Though it is easy to find outdoor seating at cafés in Keelung, it is usually on the cramped sidewalks in the middle of the loud vehicle action and parking scooters. Heping Island’s version is much more relaxing! It’s the perfect place to unwind, and close enough that you can do it on a weekday. I’ve yet to be there for sunset but I’ve heard it’s killer.
The Nitty Gritty
Heping Island Park is only a ~20 minute drive from downtown Keelung and is easy to reach by car or scooter (or taxi or uber!). If those things are not an option, there is also a convenient Keelung City bus you can take from the bus station at E-Square (and return on). The number 101 or 102 runs roughly every 20 minutes. It doesn’t take you all the way to the park; the Heping Island stop is about a 5-10 minute walk from the entrance. There is also the Coastal Keelung Shuttle Bus, T99, which stops at all the major sites – worthwhile especially if you have more places to go and people to see (one day passes available)!
There is a small entry fee – $80 NTD for adults, with discounts for groups, local residents, children and senior citizens. There is free admission for Keelung citizens in the Zhong Zheng District, children younger than six, those with Volunteer Service Honorary Cards and those with Disability cards. For $3000 you can get an annual pass that includes unlimited entry & a 5% discount on merchandise (which is worthwhile if you plan to go at least once a week).
The park organizes guided tours. You can join the Free Chinese Guided Tour (limited to groups of 20) by simply registering in the visitor center, these are held each day at 2:30 PM, and on the weekends there is an additional tour at 10:30 AM. You can also reserve specific tours 7 days in advance on their website. There is a Rock Landscape Guided Tour and a Deep Environmental Guided Tour, a seasonal tour which includes the beautiful Alabao Bay.
Hours: May 1st – October 31st: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM // November 1st – April 31th: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Outdoor Pool Hours: May 1st – October 31st: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM // November 1st – April 31th: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address: 360 Pingyi Road, Zhongzheng District, Keelung
Customer Service phone: 02-24635452