Ocean Litereacy International (Hong Kong)

Sai Kung to Pak O – UNESCO Global Geopark (or return)

Top 5 easy sea kayak trips in Hong Kong - #4

Sai Kung to Pak O – UNESCO Global Geopark (or return)

A full day trip - 6 hours kayaking.

This trip can be done in most conditions – except when the the wind is from the south-east and south, blowing greater than 20 km per hour.

This is a longer sea kayak journey than the others, but because of the mostly sheltered nature of the route, it is still regarded as an easy trip, although absolute beginners may struggle with the distance of 15 klms.

This is a true sea kayak journey beginning in Sai Kung at the same location as the Inner Shelter Bay kayak trip but travelling 1n one direction to the outer islands (no returning back to the starting point) terminating in a quiet, remote sheltered cove on the edge of the South China Sea. 

Leaving Sharpe Island behind (see inner shelter bay kayak trip for details) we continue heading south eaast, along the shores of Kau Sai Chau.

Our paddle takes us through another floating fishing village, this one caters to the greater Hong Kong restaurant community whereas the fishing village in Sok Kwu Wan caters solely to the local waterfront restaurants. From here we head to Dog Island to meet our friendly inhabitants and stop for a brief swim to cool down from the intense heat of Hong Kong. It is best to take snacks and water for this journey, but also to take some food for the local dogs. They always appreciate it.

Relaxing on this remote white sand beach on a totally deserted island makes you wonder why more development hasn’t occurred. Whatever the answer to that question is, we all hope is continues to prevail. This is a quiet retreat only minutes away from one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. 

Your return journey takes you back into to the East Lamma Channel, this time heading south along the coastal cliffs into the sheltered waters of Sok Kwu Wan. The trip covers a total distance of 7 kilometres in mostly protected waters. 

This is a sea kayak trip that highlights the contrasts that make Hong Kong such a unique destination. 

You are paddling to a remote and totally undeveloped, deserted island less than 2 kms away from Hong Kong Island itself, with over 1.2 million people. The city of Hong Kong is made of towering skyscrapers of glass and concrete, but the villages you visit on this trip are made up of 1, 2 or 3 story buildings constructed of adobe mud and ming dynasty bricks. You will paddle past high speed catamarans and luxury multi-million yachts while watching local fisherman dressed in drab cotton shirt and pants, wearing a bamboo shade hat, controlling their san pan with a long stick of wood shaped as an oa,r hanging from the back of their boat! You’ll see birds diving for fish then roosting on on steel railings that follow the concrete trails that lead from village to village. There are no roads on Lamma Island. Not one single car!

This is a unique, easy sea kayak trip that highlights the past present and future of Hong Kong. 


Top 5 easy sea kayak trips in Hong Kong

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Tai Tam Wan, Hong Kong Island


Top 5 easy sea kayak trips in Hong Kong - #3

Tai Tam Wan, Hong Kong Island

A half day trip - 3 hours kayaking.

This 6 km sea kayak trip features the British history and natural beauty of Hong Kong. It also joins the famous Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail for anyone wishing to combine a half day hike with this easy sea kayak trip. 

This trip can be done in most conditions – except when the the wind is from the south-east blowing greater than 20 km per hour. 


The British first settled on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island at a place called Stanley. It is a beachside village and very popular tourist destination, famous for its markets and waterfront promenade. On the northern side of Stanley is a wide, deep bay called Tai Tam (Wan). The Stanley Main Beach in Tai Tam Bay is a very busy watersports centre for windsurfing, dragonboating and water skiing. This coast of the bay is well developed with many luxury villas and even high rise buildings fronting the it.

However, the opposite coast is a total contrast. It comprises a stretch of abandoned villages dotted along a serious of small beaches and forest clad hillsides, flowing creeks and cascading waterfalls. It is this contrast that makes the easy paddle around Tai Tam Wan a beautiful and interesting sea kayak trip. 


Looking south across Tai Tam Bay towards the South China Sea.

The circular route of this kayak trip starts at a semi abandoned village on the northern coast of the bay. The hike down from the road to the waterfront crosses section 7 of the Hong Kong Trail ( a hiking trail running west to east across Hong Kong Island). After a 15 minute descent, it is hard to believe that you are still in Hong Kong – its as if you have plunged back in time.  

Departing the Hong Kong Sea Kayak Club HQ, we follow the coast in a westward direction, paddling inland. This takes us further into the bay, passing abandoned villages, wartime relics (piil boxes designed to defend Hong Kong against the Japanese invasion forces in WW2), traditional Taoist and Buddhist temples. As we progress deeper inland the soft white sand beaches are replaced by muddy mangrove forests and moored luxury yachts replaced by traditional sampans and fishing boats, finally ending at the face of Hong Kong’s largest dam wall – the impressive Tai Tam Reservoir wall. This was the main freshwater source for Hong Kong in the early 1900’s and is still in use today. 

Returning back into the bay we follow the opposite coast passing under the ‘famous’ Redhill Apartments, built in the late 80’s. This was supposed to be the most luxurious housing development in Hong Kong but due to construction issues, beacame a bit of a white elephant. Below these “multi-million dollar mediteranean style homes” live squatters in tents and tin shacks, fishing from abandoned boats and windsurfers washed ashore in past typhoons. The contrast is staggering – but as we say here – this is Hong Kong!

If the conditions are suitable, we round the Redcliff headland, passing by the old obelisk built sometime in the 19th century, back into the main section of Tai Tam Bay. The coastline here is more eroded, pulverised by the large swells that enter the bay from the south east. Small sea caves are tempting to paddle into if the day is calm. Stanley is now back in view on our right as we change directions one more time and paddle back across the bay. Our destination is a beautiful beach on the northern coast for a brief break, snack and a swim before returning back to the sea kayak base.

The Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail runs along the ridge behind the kayak centre and is easily accessible from here. As a bonus for people wishing to start or finish their day exploring Hong Kong’s rich natural environment, combine hiking one of Hong Kong’s most famous and beautiful trails with this easy and diverse sea kayak trip.


The top 5 easy sea kayak trips of Hong Kong.

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The Inner Islands of Shelter Bay

ea Kayak Hong Kong Sharp Island Whiskey Beach

Top 5 easy sea kayak trips in Hong Kong – #2

A full day trip – 5 hours kayaking.

This sea kayak trip is approximately 11 km in length and takes 5 hours. Shelter Bay is aptly named as it is protected is from winds coming from all directions except the south-east. If the winds are strong from the south-east then this is not an easy beginners trip. 

Shelter Bay is part of the UNESCO Global Geopark and as such is one of the most unique places on the globe. 

The Global Geopark was formed by the explosion of a huge volcano 140 million years ago. This cataclysmic event pulverised 70 cubic kilometres of the Earth’s crust, rocketing it into the atmosphere as dust particles. As the atmosphere was still superheated from ‘The Event’, on the return to the surface, the dust still molten, reformed to create a type of volcanic rock called tuff. 

When these dust particles cool slowly they form into crystals. These crystals grow as more particles land, growing five and six-sided columns of volcanic rock. Obviously, these columns grew vertically (gravity), some to heights of 150m or more.  Later, an earthquake tilted these columns at a 10-degree angle so now they sit at 80 degrees to the surface. The volcanic tuff, and these basaltic columns create the amazing coastal features of the UNESCO Global Geopark.

For the sea kayaker, where these columns meet the ocean, is a dramatic seascape. 

As the ocean pounds into these columns of volcanic rock, they wear away the weak points. The weakest points on these coastal features are the joints between the columns. Over the millennia, the ocean has created sea caves, sea tunnels and sea arches through the islands of the Global Geopark. A sea kayaker’s paradise.

UNESCO global geopark Hong Kong

This sea kayak trip departs from Sai Kung, a beautiful village in the north-east corner of Hong Kong. Sitting on the edge of the entire Global Geopark (comprising 9 individual sections) Shelter Bay is the perfect place to commence exploring this unique part of Hong Kong. 

Today you will visit the three islands, by name, Sharp Island, Kau Sai Chau and Yim Tin Tsai. Each Island has its own unique character. Sharp Island is the edge of the volcanic caldera and is now the home to many blossoming colonies of coral reef. It is long and thin with a high ridge running down its spine. It is aligned from north to south with a beautiful white sand beach at either end and some sculpted sea caves on the southern most point.

Sea Kayak Hong Kong Oct 06 2018 Unesco 1 day_26

From here, cross to Kau Sai Chau for a very welcome lunch break on the infamous whiskey beach (many stories to be told). As a  direct result of the oceans warming temperatures, we have corals growing abundantly, creating a great place to take a refreshing swim and snorkel. Note! There is still a distinct shortage of fish life in Hong Kong waters (due to decades of over fishing), so don’t expect to be excited by the life under the waves.
The vista here looks south across Shelter Bay towards on Hong Kong island.

After lunch, we cross back to Sharp Island to land our kayaks and take a short hike up to a vantage point where we can view the places we have been. Returning to our kayaks we paddle north along the coast of Sharp Island until we reach the shortest crossing point between Sharp Is. and Yim Tin Tsai, one of the most historically important islands in Southern China.

whiskey beach, shelter bay, hong kong

The crossing from Sharp island takes us to another unique location. If the tide and sun is right you will paddle over some of the most prolifically growing corals in Hong Kong, alongside a traditional Tanka floating village and a late neolithic stone carving (3,500 years old). Where else in the world is this possible?

Passing through the floating village we enter into a calm lagoon that looks completely landlocked. Take the northen most waterway and you will find a sand bottomed channel with magrove trees on both sides. This is the entrance to the ancient salt flats created by the local Chinese over 2,000 years ago. Once you pass through the mangrove, its time to leave the kayaks to explore the island on foot. This island has been inhabited since 2,000 BC but now is becoming a tourist trap for the mass Chinese tourism market. However, it is worth the visit to see the natural salt fields, old village houses and the feel of an ancient culture.

Back to the kayaks for the last paddle home to Sai Kung, into the sunset and to watch the birds feeding over ‘bird island’, the home of over 50 black kites and 1 dominant breeding pair for white breasted sea eagle. A fantastic end to a glorious day’s paddle.

mangrove channel at Shelter bay

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Scientists Warn: Nine Climate Tipping Points Now ‘Active’ – Could Threaten the Existence of Human Civilization

Global Warming Threatens Human Civilisation


NOVEMBER 30, 2019

More than half of the climate tipping points identified a decade ago are now “active,” a group of leading scientists have warned.

This threatens the loss of the Amazon rainforest and the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, which are currently undergoing measurable and unprecedented changes much earlier than expected.

This “cascade” of changes sparked by global warming could threaten the existence of human civilizations.

Evidence is mounting that these events are more likely and more interconnected than was previously thought, leading to a possible domino effect.


“We must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.” — Johan Rockström, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

In an article published in the journal Nature on November 27, 2019, the scientists call for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent key tipping points, warning of a worst-case scenario of a “hothouse,” less habitable planet.
“A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated,” said lead author Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.

“The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response.”

Co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “It is not only human pressures on Earth that continue rising to unprecedented levels.
“It is also that as science advances, we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming. This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.
“Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency, to unleash world action that accelerates the path towards a world that can continue evolving on a stable planet.”

In the commentary, the authors propose a formal way to calculate a planetary emergency as risk multiplied by urgency.  Tipping point risks are now much higher than earlier estimates, while urgency relates to how fast it takes to act to reduce risk.

Exiting the fossil fuel economy is unlikely before 2050, but with temperature already at 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperature, it is likely Earth will cross the 1.5°C guardrail by 2040. The authors conclude this alone defines an emergency.

Nine active tipping points:

Arctic sea ice
Greenland ice sheet
Boreal forests
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
Amazon rainforest
Warm-water corals
West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Parts of East Antarctica
The collapse of major ice sheets on Greenland, West Antarctica and part of East Antarctica would commit the world to around 10 meters of irreversible sea-level rise.

Reducing emissions could slow this process, allowing more time for low-lying populations to move.

The rainforests, permafrost, and boreal forests are examples of biosphere tipping points that if crossed result in the release of additional greenhouse gases amplifying warming.

Despite most countries having signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to keep global warming well below 2°C, current national emissions pledges — even if they are met — would lead to 3°C of warming.

Although future tipping points and the interplay between them is difficult to predict, the scientists argue: “If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization.

“Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency.” — Johan Rockström

“No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.”

Professor Lenton added: “We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of inter-related tipping points.

“However, the rate at which they progress, and therefore the risk they pose, can be reduced by cutting our emissions.”

Though global temperatures have fluctuated over millions of years, the authors say humans are now “forcing the system,” with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global temperature increasing at rates that are an order of magnitude higher than at the end of the last ice age.


Reference: “Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against: The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.” by Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, 27 November 2019, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-03595-0

The latest UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Madrid from December 2-13.