For years, I had wanted to get to the famous beaches of Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung, but I had thought there were only three ways in: charter a private helicopter, take a boat from Sai Kung at $200 per person, or haul myself along Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the MacLehose Trail—an estimated 17-kilometre hike. Then someone told me there was an easier way: do Stage 2 in reverse and you’ll hit the beaches after only one and a half hours of a relatively easy 6-kilometre hike.
Tai Long Wan is a large bay in the Sai Kung East Country Park and comprises of four beaches: Tung Wan, Tai Wan, Ham Tin, and Sai Wan (from north to south). The beaches are amazing and a great spot to snap some photographs. There is a surfing scene, and also the opportunity to camp on both Ham Tin and Sai Wan beaches, although you could probably camp anywhere. Sai Wan is also the location of the famous ‘secret’ rock pools—definitely worth a visit!
Unfortunately, the company I was keeping thought the goal of the exercise was a test of endurance in 30-degree heat. After the easy hike to one of the Tai Long Wan beaches, Ham Tin Wan, and grabbing a hasty bowl of noodles, we continued our trek for three-and-a-half kilometres, climbed a 246-metre peak (with amazing views), and finished our journey at Sai Wan Pavilion. From there, we gladly grabbed a taxi back to Sai Kung town. I will have to go back again with people who enjoy beaches, but at least I now know how easy it is to get there.
Tip for parents: I did bump into an old friend who was there with his kids; he said he came every weekend walking them in and out from Pak Tam Au. Kids not walking yet? The path is paved and generally pushchair-friendly, suitable for fit parents with toddlers or babies.
Distances & times:
Pak Tam Au is located inside the Sai Kung Country Park so is not accessible by private car unless you have a permit. You could park at Pak Tam Chung Visitor Centre, located at the park gates, but the car park gets full very early at the weekend. Public transport generally makes the most sense, picking up either KMB 94, destination Wong Shek Pier, or the No. 7 Green Mini Bus, destination Hoi Ha, from Sai Kung town.
On Sundays and public holidays, there is the 96R from Diamond Hill MTR, which takes about an hour. The final option is to get a green taxi from Sai Kung town or, if parking at Pak Tam Chung, from there. This costs around $100. The hike finishes at the village of Sai Wan Pavilion in the middle of nowhere, where you can either get a green taxi as we did or catch the occasional 29R minibus.