Header image courtesy of Sea on Web (via Shutterstock)
Sure, one can get close to the ever-so-fascinating marine animals by simply going to Ocean Park or even Mong Kok’s Goldfish Market. But to really get in touch (and we mean up close and personal) with corals and underwater life forms? Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is the place to be. Hoi Ha Wan (海下灣) directly translates to “Bay Beneath the Sea” and is located in the northern Sai Kung Peninsula. It was one of the first established marine parks among the six that Hong Kong has to offer. Spanning a total of 260 hectares, Hoi Ha Wan is home to a handful of 60 corals and 120 fish species. Let us guide you on exploring the lush, dense mangroves and pristine clear waters of Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.
Established as an official marine sanctuary in 1996, Hoi Ha Wan has long attracted nature lovers seeking a calm kayak ride, unplugging at secluded beaches, or immersing in educational programmes about corals and local marine life forms. WWF Hong Kong operates the Ha Marine Life Centre in this area, offering programmes to students and community members that raise awareness about plastic pollution and the need to conserve marine life.
Hoi Ha Wan village is located in the innermost shore of Hoi Ha Wan. Here, you can rent kayaks, costing $100 for a one-person kayak and $250 for two-person kayaks. The waves are rather subtle, making it a perfect location for beginners. Hoi Ha Wan is also one of the few scuba diving havens in Hong Kong. Divers can come face-to-face with spiky sea urchins, pufferfish that intend no harm, starfish right by the shore of some beaches, chill sea cucumbers, and even jellyfish! The glass-like water is as clean as it gets in Hong Kong and there are hardly any harsh waves.
Distance: 6.5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 183 metres
Duration: 3 hours approx.
There are a few ways to start the hike to Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park—including one easy and convenient way to get there without having to hike at all (but honestly, what is the fun in that?). For those interested in a bit of moderate physical exertion, our recommended route will have you starting in Tai Tan, a little village on the outskirts of northern Sai Kung located near Wong Shek Pier.
Hiking from Tai Tan to Hoi Ha Wan is mostly well-paved with occasional rocky paths—just be sure to wear suitable footwear to avoid slippery rocks. Some of these rocks may be slightly wet from the stream flowing by. And let’s not be too brave to face the sun unarmed! Sunscreen is a must-have for there are plenty of spots with direct exposure to sunlight.
Hiking to Hoi Ha Wan from Tai Tan largely consists of following the Tai Tan Country Trail. It is mostly flat with stop-over opportunities at beautiful, unobtrusive beaches with soft sand. All in all, it’s a brisk walk in the park with added views of the stunning scenery of the Sai Kung Peninsula.
Upon getting off bus 94, walk down the path to Tai Tan Country Trail, which will lead you to Tai Tan village. Initially, the path has plenty of rocks and a calm stream. As you go along on the path, it gradually becomes more steady and clear and you will be greeted by mangroves and exotic plants. Then comes a gradual ascent, which leads to a cove with a small beach. Here, you get to spot starfish lounging right by the shore. Stay on the lookout for minute crabs that zoom past you!
Continuing on with the hike, the next section reaches the highest point of the trail. By now, you are halfway to the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. When you reach a fork in the road, turn right and continue down the Hoi Ha Wan Country Trail. You can stop at plenty of spots for a chill picnic, for snapping photos, or just for taking a moment to breathe and escape the hustle and bustle of the city (what better way to unwind, right?). There are stunning panoramic views of Long Harbour and Sharp Peak along the way (one of the toughest climbs to the summit—but that’s a story for another day).
At the next junction at Wan Tsai Peninsula, head left to reach Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. You’ll come across the Jockey Club HSBC WWF Hong Kong Hoi Ha Marine Life Centre there, an educational institute that offers students and the community opportunities to appreciate Hoi Ha Wan’s valuable marine resources. Visitors can hop aboard a boat ride with transparent flooring for $400 (add on an optional $100 for a packed lunch)—one session lasts for three hours.
Move past the Hoi Ha Marine Life Centre and keep rounding the bay to reach Hoi Ha Wan Pier, which provides a perfect vantage point for picturesque snaps to commit your visit to digital memory.
Keep following the Tai Tan Country Trail and you will eventually reach Hoi Ha Wan village, a cute hamlet of maybe a couple dozen traditional village houses and an old-school Hong Kong tuck shop (士多; si6 do1) that offers refreshments and also rents out kayaks. Grab a kayak here ($100 for a one-person kayak and $250 for two-person kayaks) and paddle out to explore Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park!
If you’re looking for more to do in the area, head back towards Wan Tsai Peninsula, where you can pitch a tent at one of two campsites and go for a stroll along the circular Wan Tsai Nature Trail. Otherwise, if you would prefer a smooth ride back to Sai Kung to round off your excursion, simply catch minibus 7 from Hoi Ha Wan village.