Located on the south of the estuary of the Dajia River (大甲溪) in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, the Gaomei Wetland Preservation Area (高美濕地野生動物保護區) is one of the most well-known wetlands in Taiwan.
Please watch the following video of the Gaomei Wetlands:
The wetland used to be a beach during Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945), which was opened to the public in 1932, but was closed in 1976 due to serious sedimentation induced by the completion of a rockfill embankment constructed by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and the North Embankment of Port of Taichung (台中港), which was constructed during the 1970s.
Covering an area of about 1,500 acres (607 hectares), the Gaomei Wetlands is a diverse habitat for birds, fish, crabs, invertebrates, and plants. Visitors can often spot thousands of fiddler crabs (招潮蟹), mud-skippers (彈塗魚), wild geese, and various birds on the grassy and muddy tidal flats.
As migratory birds can be seen throughout various seasons, it is a popular location for bird-watching. It is home to at least 120 species of birds, and among them are the rare species of black-faced spoonbills (黑面琵鷺) and sacred ibis (埃及聖鷺).
The Gaomei Wetlands was selected as the most popular tourist attraction by Japanese tourists, followed by Germany’s Schloss Neuschwanstein (德國新天鵝堡), in an online survey conducted by the Japanese travel agency H.I.S. in 2016.
The wetlands consist of three zones. Extending outward 400 meters from the embankment, with an area of 260 acres (105.2 hectares), the Core Zone (核心區) is designated for the preservation of the sedge Yunlin Bolboschoenus planiculmis (雲林莞草). The Buffer Zone (緩衝區) has an area of 65.5 acres (26.5 hectares) and extends 100 meters from the Core Zone. With winding elevated boardwalks extending outward 500 meters from that embankment, the Sustainable Development Zone (永續利用區) covers an area of 1,407 acres (569.6 hectares).
Among the three zones, only the Sustainable Development Zone is opened to the public, and tourists can either take off their shoes to enjoy what nature has to offer, or sit on the boardwalks to take in the soothing sea breeze and watch the beautiful sunset.
The Gaomei Lighthouse (高美燈塔) is one of the highlights of the wetlands. Officially opened to the public in 2014 after an extensive renovation, the octagonal concrete tower rises 34.4 meters and is topped with a 38.7 meter high light. It is the only lighthouse painted with red and white stripes in the country and is one of the just 10 lighthouses that are open to the public out of a total of 36.
In addition to the magnificent view of the wetlands, other intriguing features of this popular destination include the windmills standing proudly on the wetland and set against the beautiful sunsets. It is romantic to walk in the wetland to take in the spectacular sunset and the windmills against the bright orange sky.