Hong Kong is well-known for its colossal skyscrapers, vibrant streets, iconic skyline and unique culture but beautiful beaches? Who knew?! Hidden along the coast of Sai Kung Country Park lie beaches that rival the isolation of New Zealand, raw beauty of the English coast and blue tones of the Maldives.
However, these beautiful beaches come at a cost – one does not simply jump off a tour bus and stroll onto the beach. But if entering the unknown and stepping off the tourist trail is your thing then find out how you can reach Ham Tin Beach.
1) HOW TO GET THERE
Ham Tin Beach is located on the east coast of the Sai Kung Country Park, on the mainland of Hong Kong. Although the transport system in Hong Kong is super easy, navigating your way to Ham Tin Beach takes a bit of forward thinking so take note!
Assuming you’re staying on Hong Kong Island, simply hop on the MTR change onto the Purple Line and jump off at Hang Hau Station. Simple, right? Next: flag down a taxi at the station taxi rank (or request an Uber) and ask them to take you to Sai Kung town centre. This is around a 20 minute journey where you finally leave behind the tourists and enter rural Hong Kong!
Once in Sai Kung, stock up on any extra snacks you may need for your day ahead and head over to the taxi rank by the pier. If you are travelling in peak season, during the summer, you can opt for a taxi boat to take you directly to the beach however this makes for far less of an adventure and no breathtaking views hiking.
At this point of our journey we encountered a language barrier. Up until now absolutely everyone we had met spoke English, however it took us around three taxis until we found an English speaking driver who understood our journey’s end goal – Sai Wan Pavilion on the Sai Kung Sai Wan Road.
Helpful Tip: pre-load Google maps on your phone to make it ten times easier to show where you want to end up. Even if there is a language barrier at least you will be going in the right direction-ish.
The journey to the trailhead takes roughly 25 minutes along a coastal road and enters Sai Kung Country Park. You won’t be able to miss the Sai Wan Pavilion as once you’ve entered the Park it will be one of the few man-made structures you will come across!
2) HIKING THE TRAIL
From the Sai Wan Pavilion, check the trailhead map to confirm it’s your starting point, then begin your hike! For the first section of the trail you will be following a well paved path above the tree tops with views across neighbouring islands. The path gradually gets deeper and narrower into jungely forest.
Keep following the path and eventually you will reach a signpost where you continue straight in the direction of Sai Wan via Chung Tung Av. Further up the path you will reach a rest stop with benches and a trail map; take this opportunity to stop for a snack and avoid ‘hanger’ problems later in the day.
Follow the path sloping downwards and sooner or later bamboo will line the trail and like us, you may be greeted by a herd of cows at some point who share this path as their grazing ground!
Passing through a metal gate you are now on the outskirts of the tiny village Sai Wan and shortly the estuary will follow the path along your right. The Sai Wan village boasts a beach of its own but don’t stop here for long as the views are about to get so much better!
When you are ready, continue on the path until you meet a second beach which doubles up as a camping site if you happened to pack your tent! The path itself goes around but you can walk along the beach and up the hillside if you decide to stop for another beachside snack like we did. (Hungry Sarah is not someone you want to meet in the mountains!)
This part of the trail gets slightly trickier as the incline increases but don’t let that deter you as it just makes for better views! You will know when you reach Ham Tin Beach based on the ‘wow-worthy’ view as the path turns the corner. Take it all in, snap a few photos then race your hiking partner down to the beach!
Depending on the time of year you go, you may be the only ones of the beach like we were. There appears to be a café and bathroom, which I assume are open in peak summer season, but we set up a space of our own on the white sands. When you are totally beached out, simply retrace your steps to the Sai Wan Pavilion and be sure to leave plenty of time for the return as all those downward slopes become tiresome inclines on the way back!
BEFORE YOU GO TO HAM TIM BEACH
As with any hike, check the weather before you set off. Hong Kong is renowned for its foggy, grey skies so if possible pick a clear day for optimal views! That being said, if you are visiting in low season this hike shouldn’t be too effected by cloudy skies as you are relatively low down, unlike the mountainous Lion Rock hike.
ARRANGE A COLLECTION:
As you can imagine there was no taxi rank for our return to the trailhead and we were lucky enough to meet one shortly after returning to the Pavilion who was dropping off some overnight campers. This is not the story for every hiker – some end up walking all the way through Sai Kung Country Park along the road until they finally reach civilisation. Don’t be that hiker!
There is very poor signal in Sai Kung Country Park so calling a taxi company won’t work and don’t even think Uber reaches this far! Instead, arrange with your driver who brought you here to pick you back up at an agreed time.
TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU WILL BE HIKING:
As with all hikes into the unknown, make sure you tell your family, friends, hotel, Air BnB host or hostel your plans for the day and roughly when to press the panic button if they don’t hear from you. I do this every time and I’m sure one day when I’m on a solo adventure I will be grateful!
PACK FOR THE BEACH:
This is a hike but it’s also a beach! Make sure you bring all the essentials: beach rugs, towel, sun-cream and bikinis. The sun is so much stronger in Hong Kong than what Londoners are used to, so – even on a cloudy day – cream-up.
OVER-PACK ON FOOD:
This hike is the best part of a day so make sure you pack at least two meals and enough water to keep you going and get you home. There’s nothing worse than a grumbling tummy on a long hike or finishing your water before you even reach your destination.
Originally I came to Hong Kong to get my big city fix and tick off another Disneyland, but I was so surprised by the forest mountain views, I just had to hike towards them. Every time I look at the map I spot even more trails just waiting to be explored – Hong Kong I will be back!
Have you hiked Ham Tin Beach? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Contributor Sarah Bryant
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