Header image courtesy of @hiker_kit.siu (via Instagram)
Hong Kong is not all skyscrapers and highways—our city is also home to beautiful environs and natural wonders, some of which bear a striking resemblance to stunning locations overseas. Not all of these spots are the easiest to get to, however, but then again, when has anywhere worth going been easy to get to? Following our first two instalments of places around Hong Kong where one can be transported to other corners of the globe, we highlight even more lesser-known lookalike spots that you can travel to without a passport!
Located close to the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the beautiful caves of Lin Ma Hang—or rather, the abandoned mines of Robin’s Nest—bear an uncanny resemblance to the many stunning caves scattered across Europe. In particular, it’s a dead ringer for the awe-striking Meziad Cave, found high up in the Apuseni Mountains of western Romania—stalactites, lush wilderness beyond the cave mouth, and all.
It is especially a sight to behold if you are able to get there before other hikers populate the area, as it has since become a well-tread destination amongst Hongkongers. Important bat colonies have been found at the caves at Lin Ma Hang and it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for that reason. A hefty fine is incurred for anyone who disturbs them! Some sections of the mines, deemed too dangerous for entry, have been sectioned off. However, there are still many existing pathways that you can explore.
If you are looking to explore something a little more exotic and out of this world, the red, rustic earth of Port Island, similar to that in Zhangye National Geopark, should be on your must-visit list. Port Island, also known as Chek Chau (赤洲), is made up of conglomerate and siltstone, unlike its mainland counterpart, which is made up of sandstone and other minerals. It is therefore affectionately dubbed the “Danxia Wonder of the Sea” after its resemblance to the Zhangye Danxia, and is a truly beautiful spot to explore. In order to get there, you will need to charter a speedboat from Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung for a short 20-minute ride.
Wong Mau Chau, a remote island in the Sai Kung peninsula, can be explored in under one hour and resembles a faraway island off the coast of Hawaii, surrounded by nothing other than sea and mountain. It makes for a perfectly tranquil getaway from the city hubbub, but be sure to bring everything you need, as there are absolutely no facilities on the island. If you are a fan of sea life, be sure to bring your snorkelling gear and keep an eye out for the tropical fish that call this stretch of ocean home. For an opportunity to explore this far-flung getaway, complete with a small beach and crystal-clear waters, you will need to charter a speedboat.
Ap Chau (鴨洲)—also known as Robinson Island—translates to “Duck Island,” and it gets its name from a natural, arched landform atop the island that shares a likeness with a duck’s head. Its structure is also akin to well-known sea arches across the globe, such as the stunning Pura Batu Bolong in Bali. At just 0.04 square kilometres, Ap Chau is the smallest inhabited island in Hong Kong and is home to 10 households.
For just $90, you can catch a return ferry from Ma Liu Shui (馬料水) to this whimsical island, with a short interchange at Kat O (吉澳). Be sure to set aside a full day for your excursion—the length of this trip, just one way, will take approximately two hours, inclusive of the stopover time spent at Kat O.
Lining the coast of Po Pin Chau (破邊洲), stunning hexagonal columns rise up from the sea and are a fearsome sight to behold. The swathe of interlocking basalt columns create a channel very much like those of the Stuðlagil Canyon in Iceland. Such ginormous geological wonders can be spotted throughout Sai Kung, but to see them tower above you, Po Pin Chau is just a short hike from the East Dam of High Island Reservoir. Next to it, there is a pebble beach, where you can get up close and personal with these fascinating rocks!
If you continue your hike from Po Pin Chau along the coast to Pak Lap Wan (白臘灣), you will come across the Thousand Pillars Coastal Lookout, a beautiful spot filled with cairns (man-made stacks of stones). Similar to the Gatz Balancing Rocks, which you will find along the roadside of the Captain Cook Highway in Australia, you will come across a huge opening atop a cliff, with piles upon piles of stacked rocks filling the landscape. No one knows why these spots have assembled such collections, but cairns can be used to signify that you are on the right track, or used as a form of prayer or the act of creating balance, as per Japanese culture.
Did you know that Hong Kong has its very own fish-shaped island, like the one in Croatia? Although a little more rugged in comparison to Gaž, Jin Island—also known as Tiu Chung Chau (吊鐘洲; “Hanging Bell Island”)—is also home to a beautiful sea arch. Charter a speedboat to the beach of Tai Wong Wan and hike to the viewing point, where you can get a glimpse of what is known as the “Goldfish Wagging Tail” (金魚擺尾). Another way of getting to the island is to kayak to the arch and climb your way up to the viewing point from there. But exercise caution if you do decide to go this way—this is a near-vertical climb and not for the faint-hearted.
Last, but definitely not least, the heart-shaped ocean pool on Sharp Island is probably Hong Kong’s best-kept secret, and reminds us of the ocean pools you might find in Australia, such as Mahon Rock Pool. Stashed away on the coastline of Sharp Island, only snorkellers really know of this ocean pool, as you would not chance upon it by accident unless you were coasteering along the island. Catch a kaito ($40) from Sai Kung to Hap Mun Bay (廈門灣). Once on the pier and before you reach the public beach, you need to duck under the railings to your left and coasteer your way along the coast until you reach this beautiful oasis!