Tai Long Wan, on the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula, has white sand beaches flanked by rugged headlands.
This is a magical place! Set in the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula (西貢半島), Tai Long Wan – Big Wave Bay – is a large bay with white sand beaches flanked by rugged headlands, backed by abandoned fields beyond which rise some impressive hills.
There are rocky islets offshore; beyond them is the South China Sea (Mirs Bay); in onshore winds the swell is indeed impressive, all the more so as the sea is relatively unpolluted, and can be a splendid tropical blue or turquoise.
Hiking to Tai Long Wan
Unless you can arrive by boat or even helicopter, you head here by a bit of a hike. The main route follows a stretch of Maclehose Trail, up and over the ridge from Chek Keng – which you can walk to from a bus stop at Pak Tam Au, though I occasionally take an easier option, riding a speedboat from Wong Shek Pier. Though illegal, ride at your own risk, these speedboats are fun: it seems no matter how much they bounce around, the drivers seem to remain still as statues.
The walk up to the ridge is a fairly long pull, especially on a hot day (phew!).
But once at the top, you can rest, and you're rewarded with panoramic views across hills and bay, with Sharp Peak's distinctive profile on your left. Then, the trail winds down, to the hamlet of Tai Long, where the First Stop cafe may be a tempting place for a drink.
The trail from here is pretty much dead level. The Maclehose Trail bears right, while I prefer to keep left, to another hamlet, Ham Tin, beside a wonderful beach. There are a couple of simple restaurants here, opening at weekends and on public holidays, less reliably on weekdays: the food may be simple, but the location is five-star.
Just north of one of these restaurants is an unenticing looking trail, up into trees on a small headland. If you've come this far, you've gotta take this trail – it's not far to the top of the headland, and from here the view is simply glorious. The best beach in Hong Kong – at Tai Wan – is laid out below you, stretching away to the foothills of Sharp Peak, with only rough grass and bushes behind: there isn't a building in sight! (Mind you, a wannabe developer seems fond of hatching schemes to change that. Happily, these schemes have so far been rebuffed, and thanks to hikers and others, the Town Planning Board has made this an area where special permission is needed for development.)
Especially if it's a hot day, you may want to just chill out on this beach – watching surf dudes if surf's up (be careful if you swim; there are no lifeguards, and the currents can be treacherous; swimmers have died here). But if the weather's ok and you have a burst of energy, well, maybe opt for some serious hiking.
Head south, and you can pass through another village in a neighbouring bay, Sai Wan, then head up, and climb into the hills to follow the Luk Wu Hiking Trail: it passes through a pretty wild landscape, that even reminded two Finnish friends of Arctic tundra! (to me, recalled the North Yorkshire Moors). The stream reaching the sea at Sai Wan is also rated a good hiking/clambering route by adventurous folk: there are waterfalls en route; and, I'm told, at least one somewhat dodgy place where you have to briefly become a rock climber.
Or try the headland to the north – peering down cliffs at the tip to the sea below, then following the rough tracks up Sharp Peak. The trails are ok to the "shoulder" of the peak; but then, there are suddenly steeper trails, with abundant small stones underfoot making them easy to skid on. Still, Sharp Peak is a good hill to conquer; and a great vantage for admiring Tai Long Wan and far more of the Sai Kung Peninsula and nearby HK.
From Sharp Peak, you can return to the ridge, before dropping down to Chek Keng for a speedboat, or hiking on to Pak Tam Au.
Tai Long Wan in Explore Wild Hong Kong!:[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwGcqlmKPaY]
On Sundays and public holidays, bus 96R from Diamond Hill MTR station serves Wong Shek Pier (via Sai Kung). There's also a frequent daily bus service (94) from Sai Kung to Wong Shek Pier.
To reach Sai Kung, you could take a bus or minibus from Diamond Hill or Choi Hung MTR stations; or – if you're travelling from Hong Kong Island – Hang Hau MTR station.
The speedboat from Wong Shek Pier to Chek Keng costs HK$60 for 1-3 people, HK$20 for each additional person.