Get Out: Pak Tam Au to Tai Long Wan
13km approx. Difficult
Empty beaches bordered by jagged mountain peaks and sharp ridges, clean water and waves that are actually surfable: welcome to the splendor of Tai Long Wan. No, not the rubbish-ridden, over-crowded Big Wave Bay on Hong Kong Island. This one’s an hour’s bus ride from the city, followed by a 90-minute hike over a hill in Sai Kung.
From the Chek Keng Peak trail’s start point at Pak Tam Au, hike downhill through a small, derelict village before heading straight up to the ridge, where there’s a rest area. If you're burnt out, you have the option of continuing downhill on the paved trail to the beach – but if you hang a left onto the dirt track, you’re in for a treat.
Because of loose rock, the track up to Sharp Peak is recommended for experienced hikers only. It’s also not a good idea on a hot summer day – the track gets very steep as you scramble up the 200m distance. The views atop Sharp Peak are spectacular, with long ridges stretching before your eyes and pristine beaches in evidence far below. Watch your step as you proceed down the ridge to your left, and in no time you'll be in the water wondering how you ended up in Thailand.
There are surf boards and body boards for rent from the restaurant in Ham Tin village just over the headland – if you took the shorter way to the beach, the trail runs through the shop on the way in. On the way back, take that short trail to Pak Tam Au. If you're feeling lazy, however, you can arrange for a speedboat pick-up from the restaurant ($800 minimum for eight people). The boat takes you back to Sai Kung village – but only if the waves aren’t too big that day.
Getting there: take bus 94 or 96R from Sai Kung Bus Terminus or Diamond Hill MTR, and get off at the Pak Tam Au stop. The trail’s start point is across the road. Andrew James