Header image courtesy of @georgialammm (via Instagram)
Of all the wonders out there to explore, nothing is quite as enigmatic and intriguing as caves. Despite often escaping our attention, Hong Kong is actually home to a myriad of fascinating cavernous structures—some built for mining or military purposes, while others formed by hundreds and thousands of natural weathering. Whether man-made or a craft of nature, these dark-shrouded chambers evoke feelings of mystery, excitement, and awe that encapsulate what many adventure-seekers set out to experience. If you’re ready to take a plunge into the darkness, here are the most interesting caves in Hong Kong to discover!
Follow the footsteps of the legendary nineteenth-century pirate Cheung Po-tsai (張保仔) as you venture into his secret den! Measuring around 10 metres deep and 88 metres long, Cheung Po-tsai Cave boasts a storied history that has made it a popular haunt for tourists and day-trippers visiting Cheung Chau. It is said that this natural cave was where the notorious pirate stashed his treasures and laid low from the Qing government authorities.
We have to tip our hats to the pirate for finding such a prime hideout spot: The secluded cave is tucked away in the far western corner of the island amongst a cluster of other giant boulders, its entrance rather inconspicuous—just wide enough for one person to enter at a time. If it were not for the modern-day signs and markings giving away its location, you would be roaming around the island in circles trying to find it!
Perhaps not for the claustrophobic, descending through the narrow passageway requires a bit of shimmying and hunching, but it’s nothing too tricky that most people can’t manage. Just remember to bring a torchlight to help you navigate or risk fumbling around in pitch darkness!
Just when you think that that the remote New Territories village of Lin Ma Hang could not feel any farther away from Hong Kong’s bustling energy, there’s a whole other extraterrestrial universe that awaits at the ruinous mines a few hours’ hike away. First opened in 1915, the Lin Ma Hang Lead Mine was formerly a site of lead, copper, and silver production up until 1962 when it was abandoned as unprofitable. However, left in its wake are dark, empty tunnels and dramatic cavernous spaces that have attracted large colonies of bats—adding to the eerie yet oddly enchanting atmosphere. There are warning signs against entry into the mine so explore at your own risk. Here is a detailed guide on how to hike to the Lin Ma Hang Mine Caves.
As the name hints, this history-seeped vault nestled in Mui Wo was once a thriving silver mine in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Although mining operations ceased right before the turn of the twentieth century, what now stands is a striking relic of the rural town’s underground heritage. Located on the side of the Silver Mine Hill just above the waterfall, this cave is accessible by the well-paved Olympic Trail that links Tung Chung to Mui Wo. While much of the cave has been sealed off for safety reasons (and to prevent visitors from disturbing the bats that reside within), you can still explore around the entrance and some 10 metres deep into the cave—its jagged and primitive-looking exterior is evocative of a bygone era, making for stellar photo ops!
One of the most iconic historical landmarks along the Lamma Island Family Trail, the Kamikaze Caves date back to the Second World War when they were constructed by the Japanese troops to hide bomb-rigged speedboats that were to be deployed on suicide operations. Though never used for their intended purpose, the chilling backstory and the rough, ominous appearance of these grottos are enough to elicit among their observers that enticing feeling of unease and curiosity. If you dare to brave their depths, make sure to wear a sturdy pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as it gets pretty wet and muddy in there!
If a thrilling aquatic escapade is what you seek, then Basalt Island is right up your alley. Part of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark’s Ung Kong Group—a smattering of outlying islands south of High Island peninsula—Basalt Island has no inhabitants nor tourist facilities, so it's best explored by a chartered speedboat (or kayak for those who are experienced).
You’ll find that there are numerous sea caves dotting the craggy edges of the island, and among them, the Sea Palace should definitely feature high on your to-see list. Doing justice to its alluring name, this sea cave truly a sight that captures nature’s numinous wonders, with a gaping 10-metre-wide opening that gives way to a mystical rock-enclosed pool. Other spectacular sea caves to check out on the island include the Brain Cave, Lam Wan Kok Cave, and the Twin Caverns.
For those who prefer to stay on land but still want to get a glance of Sai Kung’s beguiling coastal landforms, take a trip to Mok Min Cave! Sitting just southeast of Pak Lap Wan, Mok Min Cave is arguably the most stunning wave-cut notch in Hong Kong that’s reachable by foot. It still requires a short trek to get there, but what’s an adventure without a bit of trouble?
Technically a sea arch, the mouth of this rocky hole frames a picturesque view of the sparkling sea and hilly coastline on the other side—it’s as if it were made to be photographed. We recommend visiting here when the tide is low, so you can walk freely inside the cave and strike all your best poses for the camera!