Part of Chiayi County is covered by the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, which also covers the coastal areas of Yunlin County and Tainan County. Established in November 2003, the scenic area that stretches along the three counties was designated by the government as a place developed for natural conservation. While some parts of the southwest coast are industrialized, the other parts are important ecological areas that serve as habitats for divese wildlife, and the establishment of the scenic area serves to protect these habitats. Aside from conservation purposes, the area was also developed to attract tourists.
The Southwest Coast National Scenic Area is located in the tropical region of Taiwan where the summers are humid and dry with some days of rain, and the winters are comfortably cool. It has a lot of tourist attractions from the coastland extending all the way out to about 20 meters deep of the ocean. Unlike the northeast coast of Taiwan, which has many rugged cliffs and mountains, the southwest coast is generally flat. It is characterized by marshes, wetlands, sandbanks, and river deltas.
Mangroves are among the natural attractions you will see in the scenic area, particularly in the wetlands of Tainan County. Mangroves are important because they protect the shoreline from damages caused by strong wind and waves, storms, and floods. They prevent erosion in the coastlines. Mangroves are also land builders. When you visit the mangroves in Tainan County, you can walk through a 200-meter strip of preservation area where you will see amazing vegetation and animals that inhabit the place.
The Cigu Lagoon is another attraction you will find in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area. Also found in Tainan County, it is Taiwan’s biggest lagoon. It is home to various wildlife like migratory birds, clams, crabs, and of course fish. Here, you will find the black-faced spoonbill, which can be easily spotted with its characteristic black face and long, black bill. Once commonly found in East Asia, it is now considered as endangered, and it is is the only endangered species among the family of spoonbills.
In Chiayi, as well as in Tainan, you will find Dongshih and Budai harbors, which are known to be unloading spots for seafood. Owners of seafood restaurants go here to buy supplies. Another thing that the coastal areas of Chiayi County are known for is salt production. The people use the traditional method of salt production wherein seawater is dried out under the sun to produce salt crystals. The process takes about nine days. When you go to Chiayi coastal areas, you will see tall mounds of glistening white salt
You can also go to East Stone Fisherman’s Wharf in Chiayi. When you visit during the Dragon Boat Festival, which is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar, you will be treated to dragon boat races and a feast of rice dumplings and local wine.
There are so many sights to see in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area. It would be best to plan your trip well so you can go to different places in the counties of Chiayi, Yunlin, and Tainan. Most destinations can be reached by High-Speed Rail or by bus.