Header image courtesy of David Yeung.
This is arguably one of the most popular and highly rated hikes in all of Hong Kong, due to its convenient location and rewarding views of the southern side of Hong Kong Island. Not only does its name give this hike an air of mystery, but it also has spectacular and serene views of the natural wonders Hong Kong has to offer. Once reaching the peak of Dragon’s Back, you will be handsomely rewarded with views of lush greenery and admiral blue waters, whilst also getting a glimpse of the city from afar. The end of the trail leads you to Big Wave Bay, one of Hong Kong Island’s most secluded beaches and a beloved surf spot (we’re sure you can figure out why). After the long and arduous workout, be sure to go for a swim and spend the rest of your day lounging on the pristine beach.
What we call the Dragon’s Back hike is one of the later stages of the Hong Kong Trail. Despite its dramatic appearance—an undulating ridge that gives the hike its name—the Dragon’s Back is suitable for hikers of all levels, from beginners all the way to seasoned veterans.
The “spine” starts with a series of steps and unpaved trails at To Tei Wan Village on the southern tip of the D’Aguilar Peninsula. About halfway, you will end up walking on a paved trail all the way to Big Wave Bay. Along the way, you will see breath-taking views of the south side of Hong Kong Island, Shek O, and Big Wave Bay. From your vantage point, you will also be able to see the entirety of the Shek O Country Club’s beautiful, ocean-facing golf course.
While you can technically leave right after completing the mountainous portion of the Dragon’s Back, we’d wholeheartedly recommend continuing until you hit Big Wave Bay and spending a few hours relaxing on the quiet, beautiful beach.
Distance: 8 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 284 metres approx.
Total time: 2 to 3 hours approx.
The most convenient way to get to the hike is either by taxi or bus from Shau Kei Wan.
As soon as you alight at the To Tei Wan bus stop, you will be greeted with public portable lavatories right beside the start of the path. From there, follow the sign (and only path) and head towards the mountain, which will eventually lead you to the start of Dragon’s Back. The very beginning of the hike is mostly shaded, and the trails and steps are largely makeshift—so exercise caution, because the ground may be slippery and uneven. About 10 minutes into the hike, you will come across an intersection point. Follow the "Dragon’s Back" sign up to the beginning of the mountain ridge.
You will eventually find yourself looking at spectacular views of Shek O Village, Shek O Beach, and the Shek O Country Club golf course. From there, follow the path that leads to the Dragon’s Back trail. The trail has a mix of shade and open sky, so you won‘t be under the sun the whole way. Since you are walking on the ridge of the mountain, you will get the opportunity to see two sides of Hong Hong—the southern side (Shek O and Big Wave Bay), and the northern side (Tai Tam and Stanley).
You will eventually arrive at an open and exposed viewing point, where you‘ll find a plaque that says Shek O Peak and beautiful panoramic views of Hong Kong Island’s southern coastline. After spending some quality time taking photos and taking in the view, continue making your way along the trail. Soon enough, you‘ll make your way back down Dragon’s Back and end up on Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail.
After walking down some steps, you‘ll be faced with a new trail. Keep right to continue your way and follow the trail—it should lead you into a shaded area with uneven and unpaved ground. You should continue on this path for about 30 minutes, encountering an idyllic scene with streams and puddles, before you reach a water treatment plant and a paved trail. From there, walk down until you see the signs pointing to Big Wave Bay.
Follow the signs and continue on the paved path for approximately 30 minutes. From here, you will see views of Chai Wan as you are making your way around the mountain and into Big Wave Bay. You will eventually end up at a resting point from there, where you should see an entrance to a catchwater.
Right by the start of the catchwater, you will see a sign on the right that says Big Wave Bay. Ignore that sign and keep going straight into the catchwater—trust us. After about 10 minutes, you will see another sign leading to Big Wave Bay, at which point you should turn right and follow the path until you make your way down to Big Wave Bay.