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South Lamma Island – Circumnavigation

12 Jan 2019 Sth Lamma island Sea Kayak Hong Kong

An exposed coast with few takeout places

STH lamma island sea kayak route map

SOK KWU WAN to Lo So Shing Village Beach – east to west sea kayak journey

This trip route will vary (possibly a lot) depending on the tide, wind and ocean conditions on the day. Do not attempt to paddle this section of the Hong Kong coast unless you can self-rescue. There are very few escape routes.

girls ready to go kayaking

As this trip is 17 klms from start to finish, if you don’t go into beautiful Shek Pai Wan, which would add an extra 3 klms. If the sea, wind and tide conditions are favourable, its a very rewarding to paddle along a largely unknown stretch of the Hong Kong coastline.

So by the numbers:

1. Lo So Shing Village Beach to the East Lamma Channel – 2.58 klms / 40 minutes.
Sok Kwu Wan is a sheltered bay protected on 3 sides by high hills, so unless the wind is coming from the NE, you will not know how strong it is, until you leave the bay.

Point 1 to Point 2 – East Lamma Channel.to Sth Lamma Sea Tunnel – 1.71 klms / 20 mins
The are 2 places in this section that have tidal waves and strong currents, indicated on the map by the yellow wavey lines.These areas can have very confused water at peak tides. 

East Lamma Channel

Just around the headland, if the waves are small, you can explore in close to the cliff face and you will find a surprise – there is a tunnel wide enough to paddle through. This is very easy to miss.

Point 2 to Point 3 – Sea tunnel to Sham Wan beach – 4.76 klms / 60 minutes.
The crossing from the sea tunnel to Sham Wan Headland is relatively straight forward, if you are travelling with the tide. It will take between 30 and 40 minutes, but if the tides are against, this could easily take twice as long.Once you are around the headland and enter Sham Wan (Deep Bay) you gain the protection of the headlands on both sides and quickly find yourself in a sheltered bay (except if the winds are blowing from the south).

The paddle into Sham Wan will take 20 minutes. From July to October the beach is closed to visitors due to the Green Sea Turtle breeding season.Do not land on the beach, instead, paddle 5 minutes back across the bay to a small beach on the opposite side. A great place to swim and have lunch. There is shade too.

 

Sea Kayak Hong Kong destinations_38

Take your time to have a swim if it is a warm day as there is no place to exit for another 1 hour after departing the lunch beach.

 

Sea Kayak Hong Kong destinations_33

Point 4 to Point 5 – Sham Wan lunch spot to sea caves around west Sham Wan Headland -2.0 klms / 30 minutes.

Leaving Sham Wan you are again exposed to rugged cliffs and a long headland that juts out into the South China Sea. Here there can be large swells and cross currents depending on the tide. Paddle hard around the headland into the bay behind. You will see a series of cliffs with dark spaces along them. These are sea caves that are worth a visit if the conditions are good.

Point 5 to Point 6 – .Sea cliffs to the waterfall cave – 1.2 klms / 15 mins paddle.
This section is steep sea ciffs all the way. Once around the headland you will see a valley in front of you and what appears to be a dark cleft in the rocky shore. As you paddle towards it, there will be a small waterfall appear (15m) if there has been recent rain. If it is dry, there will be a narrow gap in a cliff appear. This gap is about 4 meteres wide and goes back into a cave that is 30 meters deep, with a steep sandy beach inside. If the water fall is running, you cannot see the cave or the beach. 
NB: you can kayak into this cave and land on the bech if the waves are small. DO NOT go into the cave if the waves are 1/2 meter of greater as you cannot turn around inside and the shorebreak can capsize you when you have to reverse out again.

Point 6 to Point 7 – Waterfall Cave to Millionaires Beach – 2.52 klms / 30 to 120 minutes!!!
This section of the route has the potential of being the most difficult, depending on tide and swell. The cliffs and rocky shores do not allow for a safe landing until you are around the final headland.However, the headland can have a very strong tidal race for about 300 meters. If that is with you, this is a very simple rounding, but if that is against you, it is sometimes faster than you can paddle and will make the section very tiring. Time your journey well!!

Point 7 to Lo So Shing Beach – 1.41 klm / 20 minutes
An easy paddle north to the first beach, however this is a governemnt gazetted beach so it is prohibitted to land there during the swimming season so ensure that you stay close to the southern bank as you addle in. There is a rocky headland with BBQ pits. There is a series of steps leading to the water there. It is a difficult take out poit. Most often it is better to paddle onto the beach and hope that the life guards understand. 

From here the kayaks have to be carried up the stairs at the back of the beach and then trolleyed back to Lo So SHing Village beach – approximately 300m and about 15 minutes hike..

 

Pak Lap Wan to Sai Kung Village

sea-kayak-UNESCO-geopark2-beach-Hong-Kong

An short, fun and beautiful seakayak trip.

Pak Lap to Sai kung sea kayak route

Sai Kung to Pak lap Wan – on a north bound journey OR Pak Lap Wan to Sai Kung on a south bound journey.

This trip route will vary (possibly a lot) depending on the tide, wind and ocean conditions on the day. Do not attempt to paddle this section of the Hong Kong coast unless you can self-rescue. There are no easy escape routes.

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_10

As this trip is only about 6 klms. If the sea conditions are favourable, its great to paddle into some of the majestic bays and sea caves on the eastern section of the Tung Lung Chau coast before heading north to Clearwater Bay. You also get to see the climbers who scale these cliffs.

Leaving Tung Lung Chau heading north, its a short 500m paddle to the mainland coast, but be aware that this is a busy shipping channel. A major pleasure marina is just around the headland so on a weekend there are hundreds of recreational boats passing through. Keep your eyes peeled for incoming vessels, both left & right.

 

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_15

From here the cliffs and the hidden nooks and crannies are well worth exploring (depending on sea swells and wind direction of course). There are a number of caves that have been formed along the weaknesses caused by the formation of the volcanic tuff (the reason for the UNESCO listing as a Global Geopark). 

As the constant battering of the waves and swells pounded the vertical columns, the weakest places have let go. Sitting in a kayak on an undulating sea makes you wonder at the power of those waves to cut open these cliffs into such awe inspiring features.

This sea coast is formidable. Make sure that you take opportunities to expore as they arise, but don’t take risks, and always keep an eye over your shoulder for the rogue wave from passing ships or cruisers.

Once inside the more protected waters of Shelter Bay, the coastlines becomes more subdued. The human development on the shores and hillsides are pretty obvious. Within 1 km you are paddling passed the entrance to a very overstated marina development for the uber wealthy of Hong Kong. The attitude of the boat captains can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, so make sure you are obvious and be humble in your attitude to ownership of the ocean on which you paddle and share. 

 

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_08

Entering into Clearwater Bay you are greeted with pleasure vessels of many shapes and sizes. It gives you a sense of acheivement when you realise you have handled the same seas in your small, self-contained sea craft as the multi-million dollar vessels that are at anchor in what must once have been a pristine bay with sea turtles, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea mammals and an abundance of sea life. Today, we have a great place to swim. The ocean is clean and blue, a remnant of bygone days in Hong Kong.  

The take out point is a long stair climb, maybe 150 steps to an awaiting carpark. The bus leaves here for Hong Kong districts too.

A fantastic paddle for those who want something spectacular and relatively short.

As always, stay safe!

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater Bay

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_20

An short, fun and beautiful seakayak trip.

tung-lung-chau-to-clearwater-bay-2

It’s difficult to get to Tung Lung Chau (only by boat) so you would have probably paddled there already – from the previous north bound route – Shek O to Tung Lung Chau.

This trip can either be very easy or extremely difficult depending on tide, wind and ocean conditions. Do not attempt to paddle this section of the Hong Kong coast unless you can self-rescue. There are no easy escape routes.

 

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_10

As this trip is only about 6 klms. If the sea conditions are favourable, its great to paddle into some of the majestic bays and sea caves on the eastern section of the Tung Lung Chau coast before heading north to Clearwater Bay. You also get to see the climbers who scale these cliffs.

Leaving Tung Lung Chau heading north, its a short 500m paddle to the mainland coast, but be aware that this is a busy shipping channel. A major pleasure marina is just around the headland so on a weekend there are hundreds of recreational boats passing through. Keep your eyes peeled for incoming vessels, both left & right.

 

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_15

From here the cliffs and the hidden nooks and crannies are well worth exploring (depending on sea swells and wind direction of course). There are a number of caves that have been formed along the weaknesses caused by the formation of the volcanic tuff (the reason for the UNESCO listing as a Global Geopark). 

As the constant battering of the waves and swells pounded the vertical columns, the weakest places have let go. Sitting in a kayak on an undulating sea makes you wonder at the power of those waves to cut open these cliffs into such awe inspiring features.

This sea coast is formidable. Make sure that you take opportunities to expore as they arise, but don’t take risks, and always keep an eye over your shoulder for the rogue wave from passing ships or cruisers.

Once inside the more protected waters of Shelter Bay, the coastlines becomes more subdued. The human development on the shores and hillsides are pretty obvious. Within 1 km you are paddling passed the entrance to a very overstated marina development for the uber wealthy of Hong Kong. The attitude of the boat captains can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, so make sure you are obvious and be humble in your attitude to ownership of the ocean on which you paddle and share. 

 

Tung Lung Chau to Clearwater bay_08

Entering into Clearwater Bay you are greeted with pleasure vessels of many shapes and sizes. It gives you a sense of acheivement when you realise you have handled the same seas in your small, self-contained sea craft as the multi-million dollar vessels that are at anchor in what must once have been a pristine bay with sea turtles, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea mammals and an abundance of sea life. Today, we have a great place to swim. The ocean is clean and blue, a remnant of bygone days in Hong Kong.  

The take out point is a long stair climb, maybe 150 steps to an awaiting carpark. The bus leaves here for Hong Kong districts too.

A fantastic paddle for those who want something spectacular and relatively short.

As always, stay safe!

Keeping a weather eye open

keeping-a-weather-eye-open

"Scoff if you will Mateys! ...but after reading this you'll keep a weather eye on the waters round yer vessel when anchored!"

IDIOM: keep a (or one’s) weather eye open. To keep watch; stay alert.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language http://www.bartleby.com/61/21/W0072100.html

“weather eye”  NOUN: An ability to recognize quickly signs of changes in the weather.

As a sea kayaker, you should work on developing a good “weather eye” (along with all your other seamen’s tricks).  Various sights, sounds and smells can tip you off to changes that portend trouble. All you have to do is learn what they are for your kayaking area and keep that weather eye peeled. 

What to look for here in Hong Kong.
The weather is the most important criteria for planning when going sea kayaking. The kayaker who paddles without knowing the weather forecast is just asking for trouble.

Winds & the kayaker

When things go wrong for kayakers at sea, it’s usually because of a little too much wind.
Sea kayaks cope very well with waves, tides, currents and extremes of temperature, but too much wind can be a real problem. 

If the day of your trip is windy, you can avoid problems by changing your plans. Shorten the trip. Move it to a small estuary with wooded sides, or the downwind side of a headland. On a windy day, paddle upwind to start with so if anybody gets tired, the group will have an easy downwind ride back to where you started from.

If you are out kayaking and a strong wind is blowing right in your face, keep up the pace until you get to shelter. 
If you go slowly you will be out there struggling for a lot longer. If you stop for a rest you will drift backwards faster than you expect. A 10-minute rest on open water in a strong wind can cost you an extra 20 or 30 minutes paddling.

Also, wind creates waves. When a strong wind blows out to sea, the water may be smooth inshore but increasingly rough as you get further away from the beach. And the further you go out to sea, the rougher the sea and the stronger the wind. An onshore wind blowing a long distance over water can create a heavy surf which makes things difficult or even dangerous, especially when exiting the ocean. Knowing how to surf you kayak is essential in these conditions!

What is the best weather for kayaking?

A cloudy (overcast) day with little or no wind.

Some people are put off kayaking by cloudy days, but that can be the best time to head out. Kayaking in light rain is also quite refreshing and you’re going to get wet anyway, so don’t let a few showers put you off.

When the weather is overcast you don’t get baked by the sun so you tire less quickly and can have more fun kayaking out on the water. This is very important in Hong Kong

Bright sunny days are the most popular time to hire a kayak becuase most people haven’t had the experience of sitting on or in a kayak with no shade in the hot Hong Kong sun. This is infact not the best time to go kayaking. More information about the dangers of over heating while kayaking will be published in a future article.

So, if you are planning a kayaking trip in Hong Kong, or anywhere for that matter, make sure you get the latest weather information, understand it, apply it to the local geography and have a safe fun day on the ocean making sure you always ‘keep your weather eye open”!