Rory Mackay kayaks around Sai Kung Country Park on his latest adventure.
Heres what is great about kayaking in Sai Kung:
- The beauty and diversity of Hong Kong’s landscape is simply stunning.
- Ideal during the hot summer months from May to late September
- There are two different locations in the wilds of Sai Kung Country Park that will take your breath away.
- It feels like a complete wilderness, but is actually very accessible.
- Start at the village of Hoi Ha or at Pak Lap Wan if you are feeling more intrepid!
Nestled on the southern end of a stunning coastal inlet, Hoi Ha is a sanctuary for many types of marine life and is among the most pristine places to be found in Hong Kong. Never mind the kayaking, for many the beautiful journey just to get there is worth the effort. However, once you dip your paddle into the clear calm waters, Hoi Ha takes on an entirely new aura. Getting to Hoi Ha is pretty simple despite its far-flung location. Simply make your way to Sai Kung ferry pier, then embark on either a 20-minute minibus or taxi ride to Hoi Ha village. The minibus runs every half hour and a taxi will set you back around $120. Try to make this trip on weekdays, as there is a lot of pressure on transportation during weekends and public holidays. Don’t leave it too late in the day to head home either. From the bus stop, walk through the village directly down to the waterfront where there are a couple of different kayak vendors. You can rent a single kayak, life vest and paddle for $100 per day or double kayak for $200 (locker expenses included on weekdays). Once on the water, Hoi Ha inlet is a joy to explore. With abundant sea life, scattered coral beds and beaches, there is more than enough to fill a day. If you’re eager to venture out further, navigate around the headland towards Wong Shek or Tap Mun Island and capture fantastic vistas of Sharp Peak.
PAK LAP WAN
Tucked away in the secluded eastern reaches of Sai Kung Country Park, Pak Lap Wan serves as an ideal launch pad into the Hong Kong Geopark. The best way to reach Pak Lap Wan is by taxi from Sai Kung Town ($110) and walk down the hill from the road to the beach, the walk should take no more than 10 minutes. Once at the beach, there is a small building that rents out kayaks, camping equipment and prepares basic meals. A single sit down board will put you back $100 for the day; this includes a paddle and life vest.
On busier days, there is sometimes the option to return to Sai Kung by speedboat. Out on the water one can either; follow the coastline northwards past rugged cliffs and around to the white sands of Long Ke for a picnic lunch, or paddle southeast to explore the dramatic sea arches of Wang Chau and Basalt Island. Between April and September, the easterly trade winds tend to deviate elsewhere and this is the prime time to paddle the Geopark. You may get lucky during the other half of the year, but be prepared to paddle through swell and stay clear of the rocks. If the conditions do turn out to be choppy on the day, then hug the coastline and head for the sheltered waters of Sai Kung harbour to the west. Although the rock formations there are not as pronounced, they are still impressive. However when winds and swell come from the east, make sure you are fully prepared. Pay close attention to forecasts and sea conditions prior to departure on the day; if you are not sure, then it is better to paddle somewhere safer like Hoi Ha or Sai Kung Town. I will reiterate that heading out on the open waters around the Geopark is not recommended for beginners and I would recommend joining a tour group.
Two operators provide tours here; Kayak and Hike Ltd (www.kayak-and-hike.com) run by Paul Etherington who specialises in Geopark paddles and my company Wild Hong Kong (www.wildhongkong.com), operates tours to both the locations mentioned above.