Header image courtesy of @tammy_wawa (via Instagram)
When it comes to the most popular outdoor activities in Hong Kong, lounging on the beach and hiking are always at the top of the list. It makes sense, given that our city is practically surrounded by sea and awash with mountain ranges, offering prime opportunities for both activities (and the fact that they cost a cent doesn’t hurt, either).
If you’re struggling to decide which to make your next weekend getaway, why not combine the best of both worlds and take your hike to the coast? From relaxing seaside strolls to sweat-busting mountain-to-coast excursions, here are the best coastal hikes in Hong Kong to get your double whammy fix of wooded wilderness and stunning shorelines!
Distance: 8 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 284 metres approx.
Total time: 2 to 3 hours approx.
Dragon’s Back’s lofty name alone sells it, but it’s also got the views and thrills to match. Often hailed as one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful hikes—and selected by CNN in 2019 as one of the world’s 23 best trails—Dragon’s Back’s claim to fame lies in its dramatic, undulating ridgeline that is said to resemble the arching spine of a dragon.
With well-paved paths and gradual inclines, Dragon’s Back is approachable for beginners, but that doesn’t mean that seasoned hikers won’t get a good workout out of it either. Spanning eight kilometres, the trail traverses Shek O Country Park and takes you all the way to Big Wave Bay. Going up and down the natural knobs will certainly get your blood pumping and legs burning, but in return, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of Shek O and the south side of Hong Kong Island, as well as the opportunity for a well-deserved dip at the end of the hike at Big Wave Bay, a secluded beach widely popular among the city’s ambitious surfers (for obvious reasons).
From To Tei Wan bus stop in Shek O, follow the markers on Shek O Road pointing to the trailhead of Dragon’s Back. It should be fairly straightforward, and you’ll likely see other hikers going on the main route, so it’s hard to get lost. After the initial section of forested terrain and a few small inclines, the trail emerges from the shade onto the long, open stretch of the dragon’s “back.” As you meander along this scenic stretch, you’ll have plenty of stop-over points to soak in the aerial coastal vistas! Eventually, the trail sends you back into the woodland, and you continue on a shaded path until you reach your final destination at Big Wave Bay, where sun, surf, and sea await!
Click here to read our full guide for hiking Dragon‘s Back.
Distance: 5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 244 metres
Duration: 2.5 hours approx.
Not for the vertigo-prone or those with an intense fear of heights, High Junk Peak has built an unimpeachable reputation as one of the “three sharpest peaks” in Hong Kong. But that’s not the only thing it’s known for—located in Clear Water Bay Country Park, the spiky summit also commands some of the most breathtaking panoramas of eastern New Territories and Clear Water Bay, where you can descend for a splash at the end of the hike.
Standing 344 metres tall, High Junk Peak sits somewhere in the middle of the scale in terms of height. While this may not seem overly impressive on paper, we can assure you that the steep and rocky approach is nothing to sneeze at, and is best tackled by trekkers with some experience. Remember to pack your sunscreen and plenty of water too, as a good portion of the hike is unshaded!
From Ng Fai Tin, the trail begins with a short flight of steps that introduces you to thick vegetation and bamboo forests before eventually opening up along the mountain ridge uphill. The first section consists of gentle inclines on a dirt path, and a few bursts of steps here and there, but the real challenge comes when you approach the last stretch up the summit. Rocky (sometimes muddy) and dizzyingly steep, it’s an unnerving ascent that will require you to scramble on all fours in places.
But the effort pays off: The vantage point from atop High Junk Peak offers unobstructed views of Joss House Bay, Clear Water Bay Country Club, and the glittering Pacific Ocean, and inspires feelings of profound awe, tranquillity. For more picturesque views, you can take a detour to Miu Tsai Tun before heading up High Junk Peak. This will prolong your hike (and suffering), but you will be rewarded with more spectacular views of the bay.
As you make your descent on the steep slope facing Clear Water Bay, you will encounter a forked path that gives you the option to continue the long way down to Po Toi O Village or turn left and end the hike at Clear Water Bay Road. From there, it’s just a short 12-minute walk away from the beach following Tai Au Mun Road.
Click here to read our full guide for hiking High Junk Peak.
Distance: 10 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 478 metres approx.
Total time: 3 hours approx.
If there is a beach in Hong Kong that evokes tropical paradise, it’s at Tai Long Wan. Home to a series of pristine white beaches backed by rugged wilderness, Tai Long Wan is a remote crescent-shaped bay on the eastern coast of Sai Kung. Along its three-kilometre coastline are not one, not two, but four scenic beaches, so you are guaranteed lots of coastal views to enjoy and sand to sink your toes in!
There are multiple ways of hiking around Tai Long Wan, ranging from a short, 45-minute family-friendly walk from Sai Wan Pavillion to a gruelling 17-kilometre trek along Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Maclehose Trail. We recommend the moderate 10-kilometre trail from Pak Tam Au to Sai Wan Pavillion, which bypasses both Ham Tin and Sai Wan, the two most popular and better-facilitated beaches in the bay.
Hopping onto Maclehose Trail Stage 2 from Pak Tam Au, the hike starts off relatively easy, taking you gently downhill on a shaded path punctuated by glimpses of Long Harbour through the gaps in the trees. Along the way, you’ll encounter several junctions, but they’re all well-marked so it’s hard to veer off course as long as you follow the signs pointing towards Ham Tin. After passing Cheng Keng Pier at the half-hour mark, the incline starts to build as you climb up a 139-metre hill before continuing on to head down to the Ham Tin Beach.
You can easily spend a few hours basking in the coastal charms of Ham Tin beach and kicking back on the silky-soft sand. If you’re feeling knackered, you could even make this your endpoint and take a speedboat back to Sai Kung once you’re done exploring this beach. However, for those seeking some beach-hopping fun, the hike continues southward, crossing over the headland to Sai Wan Beach. As you stroll along the paved path, you’ll traverse the Sai Wan village and come across some small restaurants and beverage stores. Now would be a good time to make a pitstop and grab a bite whilst enjoying the refreshing sea breeze.
Once you’re ready to continue, hop on the steep unpaved path to your right signposted towards Sai Wan Road. This route takes you up Lo Tei To, where you can enjoy 360-degree views of the beach and its surroundings, before finishing off your journey at Sai Wan Pavillion in about one and a half hours.
Click here to see our full guide to Tai Long Wan and its beaches.
Distance: 6.5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 183 metres
Duration: 3 hours approx.
Known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine environment, Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is a sheltered bay in the northern part of Sai Kung Peninsula and a safe haven for over 60 coral and 120 fish species. Given the rich natural endowments of this marine sanctuary, it comes as no surprise that a hike in its vicinity comes bursting with coastal beauty and views second to none.
The recommended route for a scenic and beginner-friendly coastal hike to the marine park starts from the quaint village of Tai Tan and largely follows the Tai Tan Country Trail. Skirting its way north along the shore facing Long Harbour, the six-kilometre trek is fairly tame, with just some uphill sprints in the latter sections. There are no real challenging climbs involved, but the terrain does get quite rocky and potentially slippery, so definitely exercise caution to avoid slips and falls!
What stands out about this hike is its diverse scenery—from lush mangroves and exotic plants to rock-strewn beaches and small coves, the opportunities for exploration and taking photos are endless! And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s also a boatload of water-based activities waiting for you at the marine park, such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and kayaking, to name a few.
Although the path switches back and forth between forest landscapes and sandy beaches, it never strays too far from the coastline, making navigation easy-peasy. The most difficult bit is around the halfway point is when you make the ascent to the highest point of the hike, but the gorgeous views of Long Harbour and Sharp Peak along the way will act as your motivation. Further down, you will reach a forked path, where a right turn will steer you onto Hoi Ha Wan Country Trail. Make another left turn at the next junction at Wan Tsai Peninsula to reach Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.
Click here to read our full guide for hiking to Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.
Distance: 5.5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 150 metres approx.
Total time: 2 hours approx.
Families and day-trippers have long sought out Lamma Island as a weekend refuge from the bustle of city life. From the laid-back fishing village and long strips of golden sand to dilapidated houses and unique rock formations, there’s a lot to offer on this quaint outlying island, and what better way to experience them all than with an easy family trail that takes you through the island most intriguing sights?
Making a wide, six-kilometre loop near the eastern coast of the island, the Lamma Island Family Trail is a well-trodden and paved circular route that weaves through Sok Kwu Wan, Mo Tat Wan, Yung Shue Ha, and Tung O, and finally brings you back to your starting point. The hike is peppered with not only cultural sites and natural wonders, but also a number of seafood restaurants, and humble local food stalls ready to provide when the hunger pangs strike.
Going in a clockwork direction, the first two kilometres of the trail meanders along the gorgeous coast of Sok Kwu Wan, eventually wending its way to Mo Tat Wan and Yung Shue Ha, where you’ll find some centuries-old houses that sit abandoned and overgrown with plants. If you are one of the faint-hearted, the sight might get your skin tingling, but you needn‘t be too worried, as the scenery takes a 180-degree turn after exiting this shaded section. Soon, you will be greeted by the emerald waters and pristine sand of Shek Pai Wan, the longest beach on the island.
After much frolicking on the beach, continue on the path towards Tung O Village and up Ling Kok Shan hill. At the summit of Ling Kok Shan is a small plateau that provides incredible views of Lamma Island and the southside of Hong Kong Island. You will also spot a handful of giant boulders balanced precariously on top of one another, looking as though they are ready to topple over with just a little push!
The rest of the route takes you through the partially shaded hinterland of the island, until it eventually loops back to Sok Kwu Wan. If you are itching for more adventure, you can also take a detour to explore Kamikaze Cave and the Lamma Winds turbine before finishing off the hike!
Click here to read our full guide for hiking the Lamma Island Family Trail.