How to hike to four of your favourite Sai Kung beaches in one salty day.
Part of Stage 2 of the MacLehose Trail, this route is the optimal way to see four of the region’s finest beaches, long swathes of powdery white sand starting with Long Ke in the south then over Sai Wan Shan to Sai Wan, Ham Tin and Tai Long Wan. Getting there is hassle-free. Catch a cab to the East Dam of High Island Reservoir (about $100 from Sai Kung town). Tell the taxi driver to head towards Long Ke and the dam marks the end of the road.
It’s a scenic drive next to the turquoise waters of High Island Reservoir and the East Dam is worth a look before charging up the trail. As part of the Hong Kong Global Geopark, the columnar jointing and other natural rock formations in the area are pretty special and make a fun detour.
From the turning circle, leave the paved road and follow a footpath up and over the hill. Before long you will see sweeping Long Ke, the first beach on our route. The path leads straight down to some of the whitest sands and clearest waters in Hong Kong. Often on weekdays, you will have this slice of paradise all to yourself.
Treat yourself to a swim before biting into the heart of this route, the hike up and over Sai Wan Shan. Climbing the 314m summit is hard work on a summer’s day, but it is worth it for what awaits on the other side. The views from the top are so good it’s silly. The peak overlooks the entire eastern Sai Kung peninsula, with its lovely beaches, piercing peaks and rugged headlands. The contrasts between the surreal-coloured waters of High Island Reservoir and the South China Sea are particularly easy on the eye.
From the summit, the route drops down into a shady valley and follows the MacLehose Trail to Sai Wan, where calm waters and cooling refreshments await. From there, hikers have a choice: follow the paved footpath uphill for 45 minutes to reach the Sai Wan access road and cab back to Sai Kung, or continue on to Ham Tin (about 40 minutes) and Tai Long Wan (15 minutes from Ham Tin), where the beaches are even more expansive and the surf is fine.
The long walk to Wong Shek Pier is better left to the more intrepid during the warmer months, but in winter it makes a truly jaw-dropping day. Instead, venture as far north as you feel comfortable with. Ham Tin has a couple of little restaurants offering cold drinks and noodles and renting tents and surfboards (Hoi Fung Store, tel: 2328 2315). The winner of Best Beach in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, Tai Long Wan is simply stunning.
From either beach, return to Sai Wan and hike up to the road or catch a speedboat back to Sai Kung (try Edward Shek, tel: 5127 3053). If hiking back remember to call for a taxi in advance (tel: 2729 1199 or 2383 0168), as mobile reception in the area can be fickle.