Tai Long Wan used to be a hidden gem, I wish it would remain pristine and unspoilt.
Tai Long Wan used to be a hidden gem. And I wished it would remain pristine and unspoilt. The place is under constant threat of resorts and spa developments and therefore in the future a strong possibility exists that what we experienced here will be gone forever. On a positive note, I hope the developments that eventually happen here will be eco-friendly and sustainable.
Tai Long Wan has four scenic beaches surrounded by mountains. - Sai Wan, Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan and Tung Wan. The first one, Sai Wan, is the one with most facilities including three restaurants. We landed here by boat from Sai Kung Pier. After bargaining for the price for the boat ride, we boarded our small boat. The journey on the boat lasted about thirty minutes but it was adventurous. The moment the boat was in the open pacific ocean, the water was choppy, waves got bigger and the boat swayed, thrashed on the troughs and splashed water all over our faces. I noticed where the life jackets were and was almost ready to wear one ( I am not sure why it is not mandated to be worn! ). In that topsy turvy ride, we also noticed unusual volcanic hexagonal rock formations on the shore.
We arrived at Sai Wan beach and as there was no jetty, we jumped in knee deep water and walked to the beach. After a seafood meal, we started on our hike to the second beach - Ham Tin Wan. The hike looks short on the map, but trust me its not for the faint hearted. There are steep inclines for long stretches. But once you reach the limit of your strength and begin to curse the steep unforgiving walkway and are almost ready to give up and turn back, you will be greeted with a stunning view that is refreshing and gives you a spur of energy to carry on. You will see the long Ham Tin beach far down below and the picturesque surrounding mountains leading into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
After a steep climb down, we finally arrived at Ham Tim Wan beach, laid down our beach mats and headed for the waters. The water was rough, waves high and powerful relative to any other beach in Hongkong. Since there are no lifeguards here, one should be careful and be wary of strong currents. There have been known occurrences of drowning in these waters. There are small restaurants at one corner of this beach and tents are available on rent for overnight camping. On a sunny day you will definitely need an umbrella unless you are looking for a sun tan. Thankfully umbrellas are available for rent at the restaurant.
On the corner of the Ham Tin Wan beach , the rocks make it a great site for photography with a Neutral Density filter to give a blurred effect of rocks on water.
You can hike to Sharp Peak from Ham Tin Wan, which is a noticeable peak rising sharply as the name suggests. On an earlier instance, we attempted to climb Sharp peak but decided not to go for it as it looked very slippery and needed proper gear for the steep climb.
However, we did cover the third and the biggest of the beaches - Tai Wan, which can be accessed from Ham Tin Wan as well through a short walk.
After several hours on the beach, we headed back to Ham Tin Wan and from there back to Sai Wan beach to get back to the boat which would come to pick us up at six in the evening. ( We had pre-booked and paid for our return - Never do this as boats are available for booking from the restaurant in Ham Tin Wan as well ! )
After about a thirty minutes hike with my heavy backpack, we made it back to the Sai Wan beach, very tired but the sea view and breeze was relaxing. We called the boat owner to inquire where the boat was and to our shock he said that open ocean was too rough for the boat to make it to our beach. That was enough to make us mentally tired again as I knew the only way out was a long steep hike back through Sai Wan village. So we started on another unplanned hike.
After a long and really tiring hike, we reached a point from which we could see a beautiful view of High Island reservoir. We streched on and finally arrived at Sai Wan Pavillion where we hoped to get the green taxis back to Sai Kung pier. We were in for more surprise as all taxis arriving here were pre-booked and worse there was no mobile phone signal at this place. We felt stranded and helpless at our ignorance. No taxi here meant we would have to walk for at least five kilometers more to get to the high way. Feeling quite hopeless, we got hold of one empty taxi that was not pre-booked and pleaded him to drop us at the highway. He did charge a premium of forty dollars per head but I think we were very very lucky to get hold of a taxi. He dropped us off at a bus stand. Our anxiousness rose again as we saw green mini buses go by that were all full and would not stop. Finally luck favored us as we saw a double decker bus and were relieved to board it. We were very lucky to have made it back to Sai Kung.
We have been to these beaches quite a number of times through some alternate routes as below.
Looking at Tai Wan and Ham Tin Wan beach
Alternate route to come back would have been to hike from Ham Tin Wan to Pak Tam Au. This is on the way back through that route. You can catch a bus to Sai Kung from Pak Tam Au.
Crystal clear and blue waters on the way from an alternate route, regular boat from Wong Shek pier to Chek Keng pier. From Chek Keng pier its about one hours hike to Ham Tin Wan beach.
On a boat ride from Ham Tin Wan back to Sai Kung pier. If returning on the last boat at six in the evening, you will be greeted to a stunning sunset.
Finally - a quick snapshot of Sharp Island - It is about ten minutes by boat from Sai Kung pier, it has a small beach and a small connected island. ( Notice people crossing over through a rocky path to this small island in the left of the image above and the small island is on the right of the image ) You can cross over by walking to the small island but be sure to come back before high tide as the path disappears under water during high tide
Sai Kung is pure nature and because it is quite isolated, it can trick you into very helpless and sometimes dangerous situations if you are not aware of the pros and cons of the various routes to get there. Click on the boat ride routes ( Colored lines ) in the below map to understand pros and cons of each route.
And here is the official website of hiking routes in Hong Kong with difficulty levels and more information