The purpose of this study is to improve prehistoric knowledge of paleo-typhoon and winter monsoon activity in the western North Pacific after 8 cal. ka BP. We examine two sediment cores derived from lakes located to the south and north of the Ilan Plain in northeastern Taiwan. Seasonal and typhoon rainfall data over the past several decades are collected for this study region. We also use mineral indicators, K/Rb ratios and grain size to estimate sediment sources, intensity of chemical weathering and rainfall intensity. The results show that the chemical weathering index (K/Rb ratio) of Meihua Lake indicates the continuing effects of autumn rainfall, while coarse grain sizes of Dahu Lake sediments suggest increased intensity in typhoon rainfall. Grain size results reveal that increasing El Niño–Southern Oscillation intensity in the tropical Pacific has intensified the activity of super typhoons in the western North Pacific. Finally, we find that frequent activity of super paleo-typhoons occurred in Taiwan during the La Niña-like state, and the strengthening winter monsoon activity and higher sea surface temperature enhanced plentiful autumn rainfall in El Niño-like state. After comparing our results with the paleo-typhoon data in Japan and south China, we suggest that the tracks of super typhoon are mainly affected by variations in the warm pool and subtropical Northwestern Pacific High in the western Pacific. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.