Header image courtesy of Kdwk Leung (via Unsplash)
In times of stress and anxiety (which, let’s face it, is 2020 in a nutshell), nothing can be more rejuvenating than gazing over vast waters and soaking in their deep blue beauty. Living in Hong Kong, we are surrounded by the sea on three sides, never too far from a sandy beach. Yet sometimes, roaring waves and gusty winds can be less than calming and you yearn for a more tranquil appreciation of azure waters. Luckily, Hong Kong is also dotted with numerous man-made water basins that double as peaceful reprieves from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. Whether you are after an active adventure or a laid-back stroll by the water, we’ve got something for you in our roundup of the prettiest lakes and reservoirs in Hong Kong!
Set amid the undulating hills and lush green landscapes of eastern Hong Kong Island, the Tai Tam Reservoirs are as popular a destination for hiking as it is for snapping Insta-worthy shots and soaking up some historical architecture. Its famous Waterworks Heritage Trail is a comfortable yet scenic walk through history, covering 22 declared monuments that date back to over 100 years ago. Noteworthy mentions include the Tai Tam Tuk raw water pumping station, the four masonry bridges, and the Tai Tam Tuk reservoir valve house. With well-paved paths and only gentle inclines to speak of, the five-kilometre route can be completed in two hours—but expect it to take longer as you will want to make frequent stops to marvel at the arresting scenery and brick-and-stone-built colonial waterwork structures! Click here to read more about the Waterworks Heritage Trail.
If majestic vistas are what you are after, look no further than High Island Reservoir. This water reserve sitting in the far eastern part of the Sai Kung Peninsula is the largest reservoir in Hong Kong by volume—holding a whopping 280 million cubic metres of clear, turquoise water. But what’s even more impressive is its surrounding views. A two-hour hike from Pak Tam Chung will take you to the main attraction, the East Dam, where man and nature’s finest works meld into one sublime masterpiece. While the reservoir itself is artificially built, its two sides are flanked by dramatic sea caves and towering hexagonal rock columns naturally formed by volcanic eruptions some 140 million years ago! Click here to read our full guide.
Cycling enthusiasts will be no stranger to this next site, arguably the most exciting highlight of the well-known Tai Wai to Tai Mei Tuk cycling route. Situated in the far northeastern side of the New Territories, Plover Cove Reservoir might be a bit out of the way, but its impressive views and plethora of outdoor activities on offer make it a magnet for adventurers and families alike. As you stroll (or cycle) along the stunning dam running two-kilometres long across Plover Cove, you come face-to-face with jaw-dropping views in every direction. Either side of the dam are vast expanses of crystalline pristine waters, and if you cast your eyes a little further, you’ll spot the mountainous ranges of Pat Sin Leng, Double and Crooked Islands, and Tolo Harbour. Click here to read our full guide to the cycling route and how to get to Plover Cove Reservoir.
Ask any hiking aficionado to recommend a beginners’ route in Hong Kong and they will likely direct you to the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk. Providing great scenic rewards for relatively minimal effort, this New Territories gem has turned many hiking newbies into regular trekkers. On a clear sunny day, you’ll see the emerald water reflecting the overhanging trees in a glassy, mirror-like effect. The magnificent reservoir is largely enveloped by dense, untamed woodlands and mountainous slopes, but closely hugging the reservoir is a paved trail that's flat, wide, and straightforward—making for an easy stroll suitable for all ages. Along the path, you will encounter beautiful paperbark trees, war-time relics, and a host of wildlife, including monkeys, butterflies, squirrels! Click here to read more about how to hike (or leisurely stroll) around the Shing Mun Reservoir.
Nicknamed “Thousand Island Lake,” this reservoir nestled within Tai Lam Chung Country Park is speckled with dozens of small islands that were once hills before the land was flooded in the 1950s to make way for the present-day water storage facility. There are multiple hiking trails leading to the reservoir, and with that come endless vantage points to drink in the unique landforms of the area. But to witness the most jaw-dropping bird’s-eye view, we would recommend heading to the M183 lookout point on the MacLehose Trail. If the arduous ascent uphill doesn’t leave you breathless, the spectacular panorama at the hill summit overlooking the “thousand islands” certainly will! Click here to read more about Tai Lam Chung Reservoir and how to view the Lotus Stream waterfall.
Roll out your blanket and enjoy an alfresco feast beside the idyllic Inspiration Lake! This 12-hectare oasis sitting adjacent to Hong Kong Disneyland is known to attract Instagrammers and picnic-goers in droves—and it only takes a glance at the magnificent surrounds to see why. Set against bubbling fountains, sprawling green lawns, an immaculately manicured arboretum, and wooden boarded docks, Inspiration Lake offers a picture-perfect backdrop for a chill day out. Find an open spot facing the lake, then kick back and nibble on some finger food, or grab a sketchbook and let the inspiration flow. After a few hours of lounging and taking enough photos for several weeks’ worth of Instagram posts, you can rent a pedal boat and take a leisurely whirl out on the water or cycle around the lake’s gorgeous vicinity!
No time for a day-long excursion? This zen sanctuary located just off Tsing Yi Station is ideal for those seeking a quick escape into nature’s quietude. The Ornamental Lake is filled with serene waters and floating lily pads, while its banks are adorned with a cascading waterfall, towering trees, and European-style pavilions—offering plenty for your eyes to feast on and soul to enjoy. Come during autumn and you will even catch the incredible sight of vivid red foliage contrasting against the clear waters and cobalt sky. Apart from the lake, there are also numerous facilities within the park’s grounds to keep you busy, including various sports courts, a kid’s playground, and pebbled walking trails.