Header image courtesy of @livin_da_vida_lola (via Instagram)
There is nothing quite as therapeutic as throwing yourself into a brand-new environment, getting lost in your surroundings, and exploring what the great outdoors has to offer. Although travel restrictions are still in place, those of us in Hong Kong are fortunate enough to have access to an array of beautiful destinations that bear resemblance to other iconic, natural tourist attractions across the globe. As a continuation from our previous collection of natural wonders to visit in Hong Kong, we bring you even more lesser-known spots to explore!
The first thing that usually comes to mind when you think of Tai O is the fishing village that time forgot on the western edge of Lantau Island. However, there is also the once-popular attraction of the Tai O Infinity Pool, also known as the Man Cheung Po Infinity Pool, which is a man-made water catchment of supply water for Tai O.
It was once a well-frequented swimming hole, but has since been closed to the public to prevent swimmers from contaminating the water—and many have since been fined for attempting to do so. You can still hike out to the beautiful spot, however, as the waterfall above is mesmerising, and the pool itself bears a striking resemblance to the infinity pool you can find out in the Knuckles Mountain Range of Sri Lanka, a popular tourist destination in the central highlands where visitors usually stop to bathe in the waters.
West Dog’s Teeth on Lantau Island is similar to the backdrop you might find if hiking along the Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop, which covers the three highest peaks in Ireland and more! Aptly named due to its jagged ridges, West Dog’s Teeth joins with Lantau Peak, Hong Kong’s second-highest peak, and is no easy feat to tackle!
Although the backdrop might seem Irish, the hike should only be attempted in the cooler months as the weather is still very much Hong Kong, and there is absolutely no shade. The path also involves scrambling up narrow paths at height, and is not recommended for beginners. However, like the views you might find from Beenkeragh, the climb is absolutely worth it, as you are surrounded by nothing but beautiful hillside and terrain.
Yang Yuan Shek (陽元石) out in Ma On Shan Country Park has attracted Instagram hikers (a.k.a. hikers that only do it for the ‘gram) for snaps with this unfortunate, phallic-shaped rock. As a result, if you do a quick location search on Instagram, you will find that many a hiker have unashamedly documented their visits to the Yang Yuan Shek.
However, this is not the only phallic-shaped rock in Hong Kong—or in the world, as out in Koh Samui, the famous Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks have attracted many tourists from near and far to take a peak at the goolie and crevice. You will not catch any tourists climbing these rocks, however, as the natural formations are considered sacred and any climbing is disrespectful and strictly forbidden.
The Ninepin Group, also known as Kwo Chau Islands, are a cluster of 29 islands off the eastern coast of Hong Kong. Although there are no tourist facilities available and people are advised to view the islands from a boat and not go ashore, this has not prevented visitors from landing on the islands themselves, as the unique hexagonal columns and terrain attract many explorers and kayakers for a spot of exploration.
The hexagonal columns of the Ninepin Islands bear resemblance to the interlocking basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway out in Ireland. Despite its similarities in structure and origins (both resulted from volcanic eruptions), the vertical columns of the Ninepin Islands are made of rhyolite, as opposed to the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway. Nonetheless, these natural land formations are still quite the sight to behold.
Belly Button Cave (肚臍洞) on the eastern side of Tung Lung Chau is a trek and a half to get to, and involves going off-piste and lots of bush-whacking. But once you get there, the trip is well worth it, as standing under the arch amidst the large rocks and vast sea is a humbling experience, and a reminder of how big and wonderful nature can be.
Belly Button Cave and its arch are reminiscent of the caves and rock formations you might find on the Isle of Mull, overlooking the Carsaig Arches in Scotland. You might not have the exact same rock formation to look out to from under the arch as the one on the Isle of Mull, but one thing’s certain—it’s still a spectacular sight to behold.
Wang Chau, a small island to the southeast of Sai Kung, and makes up part of the Ung Kong Group of islands. It is a popular spot for scuba divers, snorkellers, and coasteerers for its crystal-clear waters and hexagonal columns. However, it is not the easiest island to get to, as it requires explorers to charter a speedboat, followed by lots of climbing, scrambling, and swimming in-between the many isles and sea caves.
If that has not put you off from venturing out to Wang Chau, then make your way to the south of the island, where you will find beautiful rock pools tucked away amidst the volcanic rocks—similar to the ones you might find out on Sharp Beach, located in Innes National Park in Australia, just a 30-minute drive from Marion Bay.
Once a bustling and fully-fledged mining operation, the abandoned tungsten mines under Needle Hill are now a refuge for bats and other critters. However, if you dare venture into the mines for a nosey, do note that this is not an activity for novices, so be sure to do so equipped with proper gear and strap yourself in for an adventure!
Now a popular spot for urbex (urban explorers), a trip down one of these adits is like being transported to another world, as can be seen in the picture. Leftover mining gear and structures can still be found within the many underground pathways, and occasionally, you will come across pools of clear, blue water that have filtered through the rocks and cracks of the hills, similar to the pools you can find in the famous Jenolan Caves—one of Australia’s largest and most spectacular caves.
You would not immediately think of rock pools when someone says Kau Sai Chau, which is home to The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course, but the area does, in fact, have a number of stunning beaches, such as Kau Sai Wan, where beautiful waterfall rock pools reside, just to the right of the beach.
Bearing resemblance to some of the natural hot springs you might find out in South Africa (minus the heat), the rock pools provide a refreshing stream of water for people to cool off in. Not much is written about hiking up this waterfall, and with good reason—about 25 metres up, you will hit a vertical wall with nothing but a questionable rope tied to a branch to assist you up. If you do decide to proceed from here, do so with caution...