I spent the summer of 2008 working in Hong Kong. It was one of the most wild, strange, and dream-like experiences of my life. Hong Kong is a grand juxtaposition – Avatar-worthy tropical scenery, paired with New York’s financial center, and Amsterdam’s nightlife. Abject poverty intermixed with the most exorbitant wealth I’ve seen. When I wasn’t recovering from working hard in the financial center, then partying harder in Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai, I was searching for the best natural areas around the city. This is how I found Tai Long Wan (‘Big Wave Bay’) and Sai Kung.
Tai Long Wan is a bay made up of four beaches -Sai Wan (West Bay), Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan (Big Bay), and Tung Wan (East Bay) – on the east coast of the Sai Kung peninsula. It takes a good bit of time to reach the bay from the center of Hong Kong; if you go you should plan for it to take a full day to make it there and back. I would recommend bringing camping gear and spending a couple of days in the bay if you want to have more than a few hours to explore. Be prepared for ‘primitive’ camping, though. Unlike most beaches around Hong Kong, this one has few facilities. The main bay has a noodle shop, hose for washing off, tent and surfboard rentals, but the other beaches have nothing but sand and salt water. Camping, however, is very much allowed (and something I would highly encourage doing, although we didn’t have time to try it ourselves).
How to find Big Wave Bay… (Photos saved for end of article)
Leg 1 – Hong Kong to Sai Kung.
Time: Around 2 hours (depending on your starting and ending locations).
Sai Kung is a picturesque fishing village just outside Hong Kong that has always reminded me of Sausalito outside San Francisco. It’s a great escape from the city, and first stop on the way to Big Wave Bay. When I was in Hong Kong, there were four ways to get to Sai Kung:
- MTR to Choi Hung (green line). Get out at Exit C and get the 1A green minibus to Sai Kung.
- MTR to Hang Hau (purple line). Get out at Exit B, walk to the bus terminus on your left, get the 101 green minibus (This is the way we got to Sai Kung).
- MTR at Diamond Hill (green line). Get out at exit C and take bus 92.
- MTR to Mong Kok/Yau Ma Tei. Get out and take the red minibus to Sai Kung.
Leg 2 – Sai Kung to Trailhead or Boat.
After exploring Sai Kung, the next step is to get from Sai Kung to either the trailhead or a dock, as Tai Long Wan can only be reached by foot or boat. Again, there are a few options to find the trail and/or boats:
First, find Sai Kung Central Bus Station (it’s easy to spot). Next, determine whether you want to hike for 60 minutes, 90 minutes, or take a boat ($200 or $300 each).
Bus plus 90 minute hike.
- Take the 94 bus, and get off at Pak Tam Au. Hike 90 minutes from Pak Tam Au to Ham Tin or Tai Wan Beach (This is the option we chose).
- If available, take the 29R minibus, or a taxi, to the Sai Wan Pavilion. Hike 90 minutes to Ham Tin or Tai Wan Beach.
Bus plus 60 minute hike.
- Take either the 94 or 96R bus. Get off at Wong Shek Ferry Pier, then take the public ferry to Chek Keng Village. You then hike for 60 minutes from there to reach Tai Long Wan.
- Take either the 94 or 96R bus, and alight at Wong Shek Ferry Pier. From Wong Shek Ferry Pier, hire a private speedboat to take you to Ham Tin Beach ($300+)
- Take a boat directly from Sai Kung to Tai Long Wan (under $200 each).
Final Leg – Hike (or boat ride, if you rent a boat).
If you have the time, I highly recommend opting for a 90 minute hike to the bay. The path leads you up and around through mountainous jungle with a number of squatter villages and holy relics along the way. We heard monkeys, and got numerous glimpses of the bays throughout the journey. Out of 2 months living in Hong Kong like a local (expat), this day was my favorite by far.