Header image courtesy of @whereiskiki_ (via Instagram)
The Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark—also referred to as the Sai Kung Geopark—is an oasis of hidden beaches, islands, and caves. You could easily spend over two days exploring this stunning sanctuary of nature, which is made up of the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region. If your sense of adventure comes a-calling, follow our guide for all the information you need to explore the area on a kayak! We’ve even included details on how to spend a night there camping.
This six-hour and 12-kilometre kayaking route will take you on an adventure to the most beautiful uninhabited islands and untouched beaches. You will be able to check out dramatic sea arches and natural rock formations, which are only accessible via kayak. Starting off from Sha Ha Beach, this route takes you around Sharp Island. The currents can definitely get a little rough here, so you should prepare yourself for a full-day workout. Nevertheless, you will be rewarded with crystal-clear waters which can rarely be found in Hong Kong’s oceans. The journey takes around six hours in total, including time for lunch. We also recommend that you carry your phone in a waterproof case, as your GPS will come in handy.
Distance: 12 kilometres approx.
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
Total time: 6 hours approx.
There are actually many options to get to Sai Kung Pier, but here are four of the most convenient ones.
From the Sai Kung Bus Terminus, if you keep walking along the Sai Kung Promenade with the ocean to your right, you will eventually get to Sha Ha Beach—the starting point of your kayaking journey. There is a small rental shop on the beach called Ah Kwok Water Sports Centre, where you can rent single or tandem kayaks for the whole day, starting from $180 per kayak.
Begin your trip by kayaking towards Pak Sha Chau, also known as “White Sand Island.” This slim stretch of beach is perfect for your first break of the day, where you can dip in the waters on both sides and make time for refreshments. When you’re ready to move on, you can also easily pull your kayak across the sand if you don’t want to paddle around.
Next, kayak around the tip of Sharp Island and go through the mangroves behind Yim Tin Tsai, also known as Salt Island and the home to St Joseph’s Chapel and fields of salt pans. Make sure to stay in the middle of this kayaking path—it is quite shallow on the sides and your kayak can get stuck if you get too close to the edges. This stretch may be the longest if the current is against you.
Once you have paddled through the mangroves, make your way to Whiskey Beach, truly one of the nicest beaches you will ever see in Hong Kong. As you can only get there by kayak or private boat, it is quite literally untouched. The soft sand and unspoilt turquoise waters will definitely make you forget your stressful city life. Take your lunch break here and go for a refreshing swim before continuing your journey on kayak.
Once you are well-rested, kayak towards Sharp Island. On the way, you will come across a small cave that you can paddle through one by one and explore the inside. Take your time exploring the cave and be sure you do not have more than two kayaks inside at a time—it is easy to get stuck if the tide is not high enough and if you do get stuck, it will take much longer trying to make your way out!
Go around Sharp Island and you will pass Hap Mun Bay Beach, which is an LCSD-owned beach. On a good day, this beach will probably be crowded as there are kaito (街渡; a small, motorised Hong Kong ferry) services from Sai Kung Pier that go here. Hap Mun Bay Beach is a great camping spot as you can spend the night by the waves and wake up for a swim in the beautiful waters.
Kiu Tsui Beach is the other beach on Sharp Island. Although not as nice as Hap Mun Bay, it is an interesting one to check out. If the tide is low, you will be able to see a tombolo that connects Kiu Tsui Beach to Kiu Tau Islet. A tombolo is a naturally-formed pebble and sand path that links two landmasses together, turning the island into what is then known as a “tied island.” Here, you can get off and walk across the tombolo. On the beach, there are a few vendors selling cold drinks. We’d recommend stopping here for a cold beer or juice to cool you down from the long day.
Finally, it’s time to kayak back to Sha Ha Beach. If you’re lucky and the current is with you, the trip back will not feel that long. However, if the current is against you on the day, we recommend leaving earlier to make sure you get back in time.
If you decide to go on a weekend, we recommend calling ahead and reserving kayaks as they sometimes run out. You can contact Ah Kwok Water Sports Centre at (+852) 9170 7513. We would recommend going as early as possible (around 9 am) as you have to return the kayaks by 4.30 pm. Be sure to pack:
You can also immerse yourself in the rustic vibe of Sharp Island by spending the night camping at either Kiu Tsui Beach or Hap Mun Bay. These are some of the best camping spots in Hong Kong as you get to wake up to the sun rising over the ocean, and start your day with a morning swim in some of the clearest waters our city has to offer!
There are two camping options on Sharp Island. The first is at Kiu Tsui Beach, which is along the western shore of Sharp Island. Connected to the Kiu Tsui Beach is a tombolo that can be walked on during low tide to get to the Kiu Tau Islet. We highly recommend doing this, as you will feel as if you are literally walking on water. The second is Hap Mun Bay, which has a campsite. Both beaches have BBQ pits, changing rooms, showers, and toilets. This beach has softer sand and is much nicer to swim at.
Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate
Duration: 1 hour approx.
At the Sai Kung Public Pier, there are a number of sampan (舢舨; a flat-bottomed Chinese and Malay wooden boat) stalls that you can approach for a boat directly to the beach of your choice—Kiu Tsui Beach or Hap Mun Bay. It’s possible to haggle for a better price and it may cost between $20 to $40 per person. If you’d like to add a bit more adventure to your camping trip, another option would be to take a short hike from the western shore of Sharp Island to Hap Mun Bay, which lies on the southern part of the island, or vice versa. The hike takes about an hour, with great views.
To begin, walk to the end of Kiu Tsui Beach and look for a sign towards Hap Mun Bay Beach. Continue along this trail, which ends directly at the campsite behind the beach. You can either camp here, which is relatively cleaner, or set up your tent on the beach, which brings you closer to the gorgeous view. We recommend choosing the latter, as you get to wake up right next to the ocean! Sharp Island has beautiful waters and mesmerising rock formations. If you have a drone, this island is a must-do as it looks incredible from up above. We were lucky enough to even witness a double (almost) rainbow!
As you cannot rent tents on Sharp Island, you’ll need to bring your own. We rented ours from an online store called Rent-A-Tent with pick-up from Diamond Hill. You can text them on Whatsapp via (+852) 9065 3163 and book a day in advance! And once you are all done with your adventurous getaway, to get back to Sai Kung, you don’t need to hike again. There are several boats that come to Hap Mun Bay Beach every 20 to 30 minutes and you can just take off for about $20. Just make sure to ask if it goes to Sai Kung first before getting on!