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Your ultimate guide to Tai Long Wan & its beaches

By Catharina Cheung 26 August 2020

Header image courtesy of @kseraudie (Instagram) and @kasialorenc (Instagram)

Sitting on the eastern edge of Sai Kung Country Park, Tai Long Wan is a beautiful bay that is popular with surfers, campers, and beach-goers alike. Its name directly translates to ‘Big Wave Bay,’ but don’t confuse this with Big Wave Bay Beach on Hong Kong Island! Tai Long Wan refers to the entire stretch of coast which includes four beaches: Sai Wan Beach, Ham Tin Beach, Tai Wan Beach, and Tung Wan Beach. Here is our guide to making your way there, as well as things to do and see in Tai Long Wan.

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How to get there

You can get to Tai Long Wan by either hiking, or taking a boat from Sai Kung Pier. To make the most of the experience, we’d recommend hiking in and then taking the boat out at the end of the day.

From Chan Man Street in Sai Kung town centre (in front of the McDonald’s), hop onto village bus NR29 and alight at Sai Wan Pavilion. This service is limited in frequency—if you can’t get on, simply take a cab instead. The ride will take roughly 20 minutes, and once you alight, the trailhead is on the left-hand side of the road, across from the pavilion.

It’s easy enough to follow the signposts to Sai Wan from Sai Wan Pavilion to get to the bay; the trail is well-paved with decent shaded sections and only one stretch of steps going up, so it’s fairly easy-going.

You’ll be looping along High Island Reservoir, which makes for very pretty views on clear days. Long Ke Beach and its white sands will also be visible further on. The entire hike should only take about 45 minutes, and the path will eventually lead you down to the first beach along Tai Long Wan: Sai Wan Beach.

The beaches

All four beaches along the bay are connected, so this is the perfect trip for beach hoppers to make. From Sai Wan Beach, it takes just over half an hour to get to Ham Tin Beach, then a further 15 minutes to get to Tai Wan Beach, and a fine half an hour to reach Tung Wan Beach.

As Sai Wan and Ham Tin are the first ones hikers arrive at, they’re also more crowded, with public facilities such as kiosks and toilets. Should you prefer a more peaceful, secluded experience, definitely pick up some supplies along the first two beaches, then head further in to Tai Wan and Tung Wan, where you should have no issues laying out a whole picnic setup if you so wish.

Another great factor about spending a day at Tai Long Wan is that all four beaches are dog-friendly—as all Hong Kong dog owners will know, this is a rarity in our city! Bring your best furry friends along on the hike, then you can all take a dip in the waters at the end and lounge on the sand.

The food and drink

The main beach of Sai Wan houses two restaurants: Hoi Shan Restaurant and Oriental Restaurant and Bar. As beachside establishments, don’t expect anything fancy, but they do serve several meat and seafood dishes. Do go in for a bowl of silken tofu from Oriental; served cold with sugar sprinkled on top, it makes for a great summer’s day snack! These restaurants are also where you can book the boat back to Sai Kung.

Ham Tin also has a couple of restaurants, which you can reach via a rickety little bridge over a litter rive. Don’t worry about precariously maintaining your balance on the planks, because it’s really more of a stream anyway and at most you’ll just get your shoes wet. Hoi Fung Store has menus in English, and also has boats going to Sai Kung, while On Kee right next door is a cha chaan teng that also has camping supplies like tents, mats, sleeping bags, and such for rental.

Needless to say, none of these small establishments accept card payments, so make sure you have enough cash. Should you prefer a wider variety to choose from, it would be a better idea to hold out until you get back to Sai Kung town.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

The activities

Photo credit: @oleg.manzhura (Instagram)

Surfing

In case its Cantonese name hasn’t yet tipped you off, Tai Long Wan is one of Hong Kong’s most popular spots for surfing. If you’re already an experienced surfer, you can bring your own gear (in which case it might make more sense to arrive via boat rather than hike with your board and equipment), or simply rent from the store on Ham Tin Beach.

If you’re a beginner, however, it would be a much safer option to take a class. Surf Hong Kong on Sai Wan Beach offers surfboard and SUP rentals, kayak tours, and even children adventure camps. During summer months, the centre is open daily, but it’s still a better idea to book ahead online for classes.

Sai Wan Beach also has the gentlest and therefore most beginner-friendly waves, while more experienced surfers will likely prefer the bigger waves along Tai Wan Beach. Do note that none of the beaches along Tai Long Wan have lifeguards stationed, so it’s up to you to be aware of your own safety.

Photo credit: @vibeyfriends (Instagram)

Camping

There’s almost no place easier to camp at than Tai Long Wan. It’s easy to get to if you forgo the hike, there are stores where you can rent pretty much everything you need, and restaurants should you prefer not to risk cooking your own grub on an open fire. Apart from putting down a $100 deposit, a tent and sleeping bags can be rented for just about $200. They also stock firewood for you to make your own bonfire, but we’ve been told these sell out early so stock up before you get distracted!

After a local dinner at any of the four restaurants along the bay, stock up on drinks, settle into your chosen camp site, get a fire going, and tell some creepy stories by firelight. For even more of a camping mood, bring a guitar and the supplies to make s’mores! Campers are free to spend the night on any of Tai Long Wan’s four beaches, but Ham Tin is closest to public facilities and restaurants, while being a little further from the main beach of Sai Wan. Enjoy the feeling of sand between your toes and the sound of the rolling waves—is this even Hong Kong?

Rockpooling

There is a well-known gem hidden in the hilly stretch between Sai Wan and Ham Tin beaches known as the Sheung Luk Stream. This is made up of multi-tiered layers of natural rock pools and waterfalls, where you can swim, bask in the sun, and even go cliff-jumping.

To find the Sheung Luk Stream pools, stick to the path on your left once you pass the restaurants along Sai Wan Beach. Once you find the stream, simply follow it into the overgrown greenery; you’ll know you’re on the right path if you see farmlands fenced off to the left. Scramble up the rocky path for approximately 20 minutes to reach the falls. Don’t just stop at the first pool though; continue making your way up to the Thousand Silk Falls, where you can further scale the 25-metre cliff face to reach panoramic views of the entire bay. Here is a more detailed guide to the Sheung Luk Stream.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @lezlebric (Instagram)

Hiking

If left to our own devices, we’d be perfectly content splayed out in the sun all day, but we know some of you prefer to keep active, so more hiking is always an option!

The nearby Sharp Peak is a tough hike popular amongst experienced explorers; in fact, the AFCD has actually put up signs recommending against attempting this hike altogether. We know that simply spurs on you daredevils though, so be prepared for rugged mountain paths and a strenuous final ascent where you might need to clamber up rough rocks and loose gravel in certain sections. Once at the summit though, you’ll be afforded stunning views of all four of Tai Long Wan’s beaches, along with Tap Mun, Port Island, and Nam She Wan Bay.

The entire hike should take a couple of hours to complete, and you’ll finish on the beaches of the bay where you can reward yourself with an ice-cold beverage. Here is a more detailed guide to hiking Sharp Peak.

Photo credit: @jepalmer100 (Instagram)

Getting home

As mentioned, we recommend hiking in and getting the boat out, so make sure you snag a ferry ticket at the beach restaurants once you arrive, because they do tend to sell out. Also make a point to ask after the schedule so you know how much time you have to enjoy in Tai Long Wan. These boats depart from both Sai Wan or Ham Tin beaches, and cost between $120 to $150 per passenger. The last service of the day normally departs around 5.30 pm, and the boat ride itself takes roughly half an hour to reach Sai Kung.

Of course, hiking back the way you came, to Sai Wan Pavilion where you can catch public transport is always an option. On days when weather conditions are bad, the boats will not run anyway, in which case hiking out will be your only option.

Whether you decide to just while away a lazy afternoon reading on the beach, do watersports and go jumping off cliffs, or spend the night under the stars, we’re sure heading out to Tai Long Wan will make for great weekend plans!

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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