Filled with sharply hewed rock formations dusted in Martian shades of red sand, the otherworldly landscape of the Penghu Columnar Basalt Nature Reserve is comparable to that of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland.
Although one's imagination may immediately jump to wild conclusions, these bizarre basalt columns are merely a byproduct of nature's vast powers, a legacy of the very same volcanic activities that created Taiwan and its surrounding isles.
The lava that burst forth from the Earth's crust quickly coagulated into odd-shaped entities by the cool ocean water, and after basking in the sun's rays and being battered by rain and wind for over ten million years, the remaining columns are now inimitable in figure and form.
The nature reserve encompasses the Xiao Baisha ("Little White Sand”) Islet, Jishan ("Chicken Gizzard”) Islet and Dinggou ("Spindle Hook”) Islet and measures 30.87 hectares in height during low tide.
Thanks to the nearby Kuroshio Current, the area enjoys rich oceanic resources that attract a multitude of migratory birds, including Peregrine Falcons, Little Terns, Rock Egrets and Roseate Gulls. Interestingly, up to 21% of the seasonal fowl population is made up of transitional "lost” birds who've strayed from their original path and wounded up in Penghu for a short stay.
As one of Taiwan's World Heritage Site nominees, the Penghu Columnar Basalt Nature Reserve has been compared to Yellowstone Park of the United States and Easter Island off the coast of Chile, both of which are renowned for seemingly inexplicable stone formations. But due to the unique geological features of the Penghu Archipelago, nowhere else will you find natural basalt sculptures in the shape of six-sided columns, 20-meter-high plateaus or neatly stacked cliffs.