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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Camp Packing List

campfire Lamma Island Hong Kong


Remember when kayaking, everything needs to fit in a very small hatch. Its best to pack things in small bags (NOT big bags).

Also, (funny thing) everything will get wet unless you waterproof it! Duh! 
So it needs to be packed in waterproof bags. So make the bags 15 litres or less so that it fits in the hatches of your kayak.

On Water Clothing

On Water Gear

Cooking Gear

Personal Gear