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

The Inner Islands of Shelter Bay

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.

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.

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.

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.

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