Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock used to be one of the most unique natural wonders along Taiwan’s North Coast and a huge Instagram hot spot.
Nestled along the northeastern outskirts of New Taipei City in Ruifang District, Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock was a stunning 20m high sandstone rock formation shaped by years of wind and sea erosion. It resembled an elephant’s trunk, hence its name.
Unfortunately, these same natural forces that shaped New Taipei City’s most famous rock also destroyed it in December 2023 when the entire “trunk” collapsed and fell into the ocean after a storm. While you can’t see the trunk anymore, it’s still worth visiting this place, as the walk along the coastline offers incredible views with loads of other uniquely shaped rocks to see.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this stunning geological wonder!
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How to Get to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock
Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock (Google Maps) is located in Ruifang District, just a hop, skip and jump away from the Shen’ao Fishing Port.
The easiest way to get to the Elephant Trunk Rock is by car. There is sufficient parking by the port, from where it’s only a 5-minute walk to the rock formation. If you don’t have your own wheels, it’s worth renting a car for your trip because there are oodles of other cool sights to see nearby.
If that’s not an option for you, it is possible to get to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock via public transport. It will be more of a mission, but it is still doable with some planning. Here are the deets:
From Taipei Main Station
The easiest way to get to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock from Taipei Main Station is to catch a local train to Ruifang Station. Make sure to download the TRA app on your phone to check schedules and prices. Also, read my guide on other handy travel apps for Taiwan.
Once you get to Ruifang, you’ll need to catch a taxi or take the bus for the remainder of the journey. For the shortest bus route, your best bet is to take either bus F805 or F806 to Xiangbiyan Scenic Spot. The ride takes about 16 minutes, and from there, it’s roughly a 400m walk to the elephant trunk rock. The buses are a little infrequent, so map out your trip with Google Maps. There’s also not much info available online regarding the actual bus schedules.
Alternatively, bus 791 can also get you close by, but note that the nearest bus stop (Shen Ao Power Plant) is a 16-minute walk away.
From Keelung Station
If you’re spending some time in Keelung, it’s easy to combine your trip with a visit to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock. Catch bus 791 or 791 Around to Gongliao from Chenghuang Temple, near Keelung Train Station. You’ll need to get off at Shen Ao Power Plant and then walk 16 minutes (about 1.2km) to the rock. The bus ride takes about 50 minutes and costs TWD 30.
Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock is less than 10km away from Jiufen, so adding it to your itinerary only makes sense. However, I wouldn’t recommend taking the bus to get there as there is no direct route, and you’ll be wasting a lot of time on transport. Instead, self-drive or rent a scooter at one of the scooter shops near the entrance of Jiufen Old Street.
What to Expect When Arriving
Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock is only a short walk from the fishing port. A relatively well-trodden path runs along the coast, but note that some sections involve scrambling over rocks.
To get to the viewpoint, you’ll need to make your way up a dirt hillside. A good amount of foot traffic has weathered down the trail, so it’s easy to get to the top. Just make sure to wear non-slip shoes, as some sections are slippery.
You can’t see the trunk anymore, but the views from the hilltop remain breathtaking. While you can visit Shen’ao Elephant Truck Rock any time of day, I highly recommend coming at sunset for the most incredible setting imaginable! And don’t forget your camera – you’re going to need it!
Although the elephant trunk rock was undoubtedly the shining star here, the surrounding scenery is just as magical. Some highlights include admiring the cool honeycomb and mushroom-shaped rocks and getting an incredible ocean view. You’ll even be able to spot Jiufen in the distance!
Other Attractions Near Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock
Shen Ao Elephant Trunk Rock is definitely one of the coolest places you’ll visit in northern Taiwan! That said, there are plenty of other attractions nearby. Here are the must-see ones:
- Jiufen: A quaint hilltop village famous for its charming teahouses, bustling food street, and epic views. Make sure to also pop by the Golden Waterfall – one of the most accessible waterfalls in Taiwan.
- Nanya Rock (Google Maps) is another picturesque sandstone rock formation famous for its distinctive layered appearance. There are some awesome sandstone cliffs nearby, which you can scramble up to the top. Just be careful as it gets quite windy here.
- Keelung: This bustling port city is home to cool temples, an instagrammable fishing port, and one of the best night markets in Taiwan!
- Yehliu Geopark is Taiwan’s most famous geological park and a popular day trip from Taipei. The park is home to a variety of unique rock formations, including the iconic Queen’s Head.
- Twin Candlestick Islets: A pair of rock formations jutting from the sea. If you’d rather skip the crowds at Yehliu, the Twin Candlestick Islets is for you!
Where to Stay
If you plan to explore a few other attractions along the north coast, it’s worth staying overnight either in Jiufen or in Keelung.
H& Jiufen The Ocean Theory is a lovely B&B with amazing views over the mountains and ocean.
In Keelung, check in at Drizzle Inn if you’re into Instagrammable vibes and want to be right in the hustle and bustle of town. If you prefer something a bit posher, definitely check out Hotel Begins. The best part? The hotel is only an 8-minute drive to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock.
Shen Ao Elephant Trunk Rock in Conclusion
Although Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock might not be a huge go-to spot anymore, it’s still a fantastic place to add to your Taiwan must-see list – whether you’re into natural rock formations, looking for a cool photo spot, or want to check out a less-touristy place near Taipei!
And that’s a wrap! I hope this guide has inspired you to visit Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock and helped you figure out how to get there! If you have any other tips for visiting this stunning rock formation, let me know in the comments below!