Header image courtesy of @jcsphoto (via Dreamstime)
Hong Kong is home to many tucked-away reserves of natural beauty—just think of our white sand beaches, sporadic streams, waterfalls, and rolling hills. In the summertime, us Hongkongers tend to avoid the outdoors on account of the gallons of sweat we produce simply by walking up a few inclines in Soho. Yet some cannot shake the thirst for adventure—and why should you, when Tung Ping Chau, a UNESCO Global Geopark, is right in our backyard?
Across Mirs Bay in the Northeast, Tung Ping Chau boasts some of the most unique land formations in the region. Boasting crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, its fascinating history and the intriguing rock structures of this crescent-shaped island will knock your socks off, making you question whether you are still in Hong Kong and prompting you to appreciate the diversity we have in our charming little city.
How did it come to be, you ask? Aeons ago, the deposits from a volcanic super-eruption thickened and compressed to form the geological wonder in the area. That eruption was one of roughly 50 supervolcanoes to have erupted as we know it. Fast-forward nearly 140 million years later, Tung Ping Chau is now home to some of the most scenic landscapes in Hong Kong. Because the beauty of the island is an absolute must-see, we’ve put together everything you need to know about visiting this tropical paradise.
Take the MTR to University Station. Take a taxi from exit B (five minutes) or walk (15–20 minutes) to Ma Liu Shui Pier, Sha Tin. Hop aboard the ferry and one and a half hours later, you’ll find yourself in Tung Ping Chau. The ferry only runs on weekends and costs $90 for a round-trip ticket. Take it all in and don’t miss the last ferry back.
|9 am or 3.30 pm to Tung Ping Chau||9 am to Tung Ping Chau|
|5.15 pm to Ma Liu Shui Pier||5.15 pm to Ma Liu Shui Pier|
Your passport! Just kidding… Although Tung Ping Chau is physically closer to Shenzhen than Hong Kong mainland, you don’t need much on your expedition. Once a thriving fishing community, the island has been abandoned since the early 1970s with only a couple of restaurants open for tourists on the weekends, so it would be wise to pack some snacks and water. Don’t miss any photo opportunities and remember to bring your camera or phone. If you are a keen diver and wish to see some of the extensive coral Tung Ping Chau has to offer, pack your diving gear. Lastly, we’d recommend a bag to keep your rubbish in, as littering is strictly not allowed.
Although small, Tung Ping Chau has something to offer everyone. The route around the coast of the island is easy to navigate and will get you up close and personal with the wave-cut, stratified, multi-colour rocks that are geometrically stacked to form a sight for sore eyes! Geology rocks, right? Excuse the bad pun, but you will just have to make it out to Tung Ping Chau to see that it is, in fact, true. Carved into rocks, you will also find little plant and animal fossils from hundreds of years ago.
Rich biodiversity surrounds the island, and marine-life enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to spot sea urchins, unique corals, reef fish, and more. Coral is best to see in the summer, with hard corals found in the northeastern parts of the island and soft ones in the Southeast.
Now only home to about five villagers, Tung Ping Chau is somewhat of a ghost town, with distant memories of a busier life, left behind in the form of rubble and abandoned homes slowly being reclaimed by nature. During the Cultural Revolution, people from mainland China swam across the water channel in hopes of escaping the turmoil back home. An enclave for smugglers, guns and opium found their way into China from here, when commercial ties with the Mainland were cut-off.
If you make a left upon arriving and follow the route around the island, towards the end, you will find a couple of restaurants that serve all kinds of local delights. Staff are very friendly, and you can cool off with a cold beverage, refuel, and leisurely make your way back to the ferry pier. But we definitely recommend bringing some snacks with you to munch on beforehand, as you sprawl over the rocks and take in the serenity that surrounds you during your hike.