Skip to Content


National Parks of Taiwan

Print ForwardText size:


Satellite image of the Dongsha Atoll
Satellite image of the Dongsha Atoll ( provided by NSPO )

Time established: January 2007
Total area: 353,667 ha
Administrative region:
It is the southern gateway to the Taiwan Strait in the north of the South China Sea between Hong Kong, Taiwan and Luzon islands. The atoll is about 240 nautical miles from Kaohsiung in the northeast and 640 nautical miles from Taiping Island in Nansha in the south. The atoll is formed mainly by a coral reef. Dongsha Island is the only reef island above the sea surface among the Dongsha Atoll. Currently, it is under the jurisdiction of the Kaohsiung City Government.

Official Website

Landscape and Geology

The Dongsha Marine National Park includes the Dongsha Island and Dongsha Atoll. Shaped like a horseshoe and covered with sand, the flat island has no apparent topological coverage but short tropical bushes flourish everywhere. Two sand ridges extend to the west of the island embracing a small lagoon, creating a shape that can be likened to that of a crab’s pincers. The lagoon is less than 1m deep at low tide. The Dongsha Atoll is a circular coral reef with a diameter of about 25km and a reef table of about 46km long and 2km wide, which emerges at low tide. According to estimates, it took millions of years for nature to form the Dongsha Atoll, making it one of the environmental wonders of the world.

Flora and Fauna

The Dongsha atoll is formed with typical tropical marine corals, with branching and table corals (Acroporidae) as the main reef-building organisms. They are distributed mainly on the surface and sides of the reef ridge. Currently, over 250 species of corals have been recorded, including 14 newly recorded species, such as the blue fire coral and a number of octocorals. The complex structure of this vast coral reef offers a perfect habitat for marine organisms to proliferate, including 556 fishes and many unrecorded species in Taiwan waters. Other than a wide range of fish and reef communities, there are colorful invertebrates living within, including 175 recorded mollusks, 28 recorded echinoderms and 33 recorded crustaceans.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Dongsha Island is the biggest of the South China Sea islands and was among one of the earliest to be developed. Records of fishermen fishing in the seas around Dongsha can be traced back to Jin Dynasty’s Guangzhou Ji over a thousand years ago: “The Shanhujhou (Coral Sandbar) is 500 li south of the county (Dongguan, Guangdong). People catch fish and harvest coral from the seas there”. Here “Shanhujhou” refers to Dongsha Island and its surrounding reef. Though fishermen often traversed these waters over the past 1000 years, Dongsha Island remained uninhabited due to its small size and remote location. Since ancient times, many vessels have passed the area on the South China Sea Silk Road, and have run aground and sunk due to the sunken reefs and shoals. Thus, it is an ideal location for marine archeology in the future.

Dongsha Marine National Park map
Dongsha Marine National Park map

Beautiful Dongsha

Shaped like a crescent moon and formed by coral reefs millions of years old, the Dongsha Atoll is located in the north of South China Sea. Due to its geographical and ecological features, the atoll is full of marine biodiversity. Designated by the government, Dongsha Marine National Park occupies an area larger than the combined area of the other 6 national parks (equivalent with one-tenth the area of Taiwan), with a border that extends 12 nautical miles away from the atoll. The Park includes islands, coastal forests, lagoons, intertidal zones, coral reefs, algae beds, ocean ecosystems, and other individual yet interdependent ecosystems. The resource characteristics of the park are different from the cora

Coral reef
Coral reef ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Fat legged, green eyed Fiddler crab
Fat legged, green eyed Fiddler crab ( by Jeng Ming-shiou )

White sand, green sea and blue sky
White sand, green sea and blue sky ( by Li Guo-wei )

Recreation Information

Marine National Park Headquarters 24 Demin Road, Nanzih District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 811
Service hours: 8:30-17:00
Tel: 886-7-360-1898
Website: Dongsha Marine National Park

Related Information

The Dongsha Atoll is currently a protected area under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard Administration. There are no long-term inhabitants on the island. Tourism is not yet opened to the public until the completion of the National Park Protection Policy. Therefore, the general public cannot visit the island without prior permission. It is only currently opened only to government or academic/research institutions for official ecological investigations. All daily necessities used on the island are supplied from Taiwan by ship. The power supply and communication systems on the island need further improvements. Drinking water is supplied by a micro desalination plant on the island. Please visit the Dongsha Marine National Park Headquarters website for more details.

Transportation Guide

  1. Air transportation
    (1) Military aircraft
    Military aircraft travels to and from the island on alternate Tuesdays to transport supplies and for official business. The capacity is 70 persons and the load is 8000kg.
    (2) Private aircraft
    UNI Air has small aircrafts traveling to and from the island on Thursdays for carrying military and CGA officers.
  2. Sea transportation
    Private vessels
    Private vessels may be hired for transporting supplies to the island, including daily necessities, diesel, machinery, vehicles and construction materials. The schedule is one ship every 20 days. Though the maximum load is 350 tons each trip, only 100 tons of cargo is carried currently.


  1. Please do not litter in the park.
  2. Please do not shout at or disturb wildlife (either at sea or on land).
  3. Please take only pictures and memories home with you, and do not remove any wildlife.
  4. Please do not step on corals. Please do not feed or play with any marine organisms.
  5. Please do not remove any coral sand.
  6. Please do not remove or damage any archeological items on the island.
  7. To protect the island ecology, please do not bring in any foreign animal or plant life.
  8. Please do not enter, photograph, survey or draw any military facility on the island without prior permission.

Dongsha Historic Site

In 1995, a team of professors from the Academia Sinica conducted an excavation of the “Dongsha Historic Site” located on the northern shore of the Dongsha Island lagoon. As the island lagoon is an environment subject to gradual silting, the site was probably suited to mooring boats of sampans while sailors used the shore as a place to rest, store goods, process their catch and stay out of the weather.

South China Sea Barrier Tablet

This tablet was erected facing the sea by the Ministry of the Interior in 1989 to introduce the strategic location, topology and climate of the island.

Dongsha Spiritual Fortressg

Located at the center of the square, the fortress was built during the Japanese occupation. It has a unique structure in which the national flag flies high up into the blue sky, visible to all on the island, and is a great boost for the morale of military officers.

Pearl of South China Sea

A pure white diamond-shaped landmark with rhombus patterns decorating the edges, this monument bears the symbol of Dongsha. Its pure form stands out among other tablets and monuments on the island.

Legend of Dongsha Dawang Temple

In the winter of 1948, the sacred statue of Guangong was brought to the island in a canoe. Military officers built a temple to worship the deity in 1975. Today, the canoe is preserved inside the temple. The Goddess of South China Sea—Machu is also worshipped here. In addition to offering incense and offerings, military officers returning home present gold medals to the god and goddess as a token of gratitude.

Navy Meteorological Station

Founded in 1925, the missions of the station include sonde observation and collecting meteorological data for the Central Weather Bureau for weather analysis and forecast. The station is quite important, for it is the only of its kind within an area of 100 nautical miles.

Sakua shrimp
Sakua shrimp ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Porites coral and re fan coral at the southern end of Pratas Island atoll lagoon
Porites coral and re fan coral at the southern end of Pratas Island atoll lagoon ( by Dai Chang-feng )
Bucket shaped sponge
Bucket shaped sponge ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Curled, bubbled coral
Curled, bubbled coral ( by Dai Chang-feng )
Orange sea star
Orange sea star ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Moorish Idol
Moorish Idol ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Christmas Tree Worm
Christmas Tree Worm ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Clown fish
Clown fish ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Coralliophila neritoidea
Coralliophila neritoidea ( by Jheng Ming-siou )
Pratas Island lagoon
Pratas Island lagoon ( by Li Guo-wei )