Header image courtesy of @draco_donc (via Instagram)
One of the best things about living in Hong Kong is how quickly you can go from the city to nature—even from the most central and urban areas, rolling mountains and sea views are always within easy reach.
While avid hikers will already be familiar with famously quick and easy hikes on Hong Kong Island like the Peak Circle or Rhino Rock, one of our favourite hidden Hong Kong Island gems is the walk to Cape Collinson Battery, on the easternmost part of Hong Kong Island.
When we say hidden, we mean hidden—even though Cape Collinson Battery has been around since 1938, there aren’t any signs or even a designated trail leading to it. That being said, it’s not a long or difficult walk, and you’ll forget about any inconvenience when you see the views.
Located between Siu Sai Wan and Big Wave Bay, Cape Collinson is a cape—a.k.a. headland or promontory—on the eastern end of Hong Kong Island overlooking Tathong Channel. It’s named after Major-General Thomas Bernard Collinson, who produced the first scientifically surveyed maps of Hong Kong for the British. Fun fact: Collinson was the first person to officially record the names of notable areas like Wan Chai, Quarry Bay, and Pok Fu Lam.
During the Second World War—1938, to be exact—the British constructed two batteries to be used by the 36th Coast Battery and the 8th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery to defend Hong Kong Island’s eastern coast. Three years later, the army ordered for the battery to be destroyed and relocated the regiment to Stanley. While the batteries were partially demolished, they are still intact enough to explore and have since become a popular photo spot with hikers and rock-climbers.
Distance: 2.5 kilometres
Total ascent: 130 metres approx.
Duration: 1 hour
Though Cape Collinson Battery is not on an officially designated hiking trail, the walk itself is easy enough—the most athletically challenging part is right at the beginning, during the steady and sustained uphill climb on the Leaping Dragon Walk, which goes on for roughly one kilometre. Once you’re on Cape Collinson Road, turn left and walk downhill towards Cape Collinson Correctional Institution.
Continue along the road for another five minutes or so until you see a cement path on your left behind the safety railing (exact location pictured above). This is where it gets a little tricky—to access the Cape Collinson Battery, you need to climb over the railing and carefully walk down the path. Just make sure not to step on any of the pipes on the other side of the railing, as they’re pretty old and fragile.
Now onto the easy bit. Just follow the shaded path for about 10 minutes—about halfway down, you will reach a short flight of stairs, which will make the walk much easier—and you should soon be rewarded with gorgeous rock formations and ocean vistas. At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll have the option of turning left or right, and if you have the time, we’d recommend checking both sides out.
On the left, you’ll find a number of small rock pools on the way down to the ruins of one of the batteries. The pools nearer the top of the stairs are the safest bet, in our opinion, as they aren’t as deep or slippery. If you take the right set of stairs, you’ll find the better-preserved of the two batteries, which is where most people like to pose for photos, and you can also continue walking past the battery to see the cliff face overlooking the ocean.
To return to the city, simply take the path back up to Cape Collinson Road, where you can hike back the way you came, or wait for minibus 18M outside the Cape Collinson Correctional Institution heading towards Chai Wan Station—just make sure to check the schedule ahead of time, because it is very infrequent.