Go on, get out of here! You heard us, you’ve been working and playing too hard, and now it’s time to step away from the comforts of familiarity and dive headfirst into some of Hong Kong’s most isolated (and beautiful) islands. Have you ticked them all off your bucket list?
Tung Ping Chau (Jumaji Island)
In far northeast Hong Kong, closer to China than Hong Kong itself lies a lovely little hidden treasure bursting with unique landscapes and Hong Kong’s most valuable resources: isolation and crystal clear beaches. Known for it’s terrain, mainly consisting of sedimentary rocks dotted with marine life, Tung Ping Chau has been included in the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geoparks for its breath taking geography. This island used to be known just as Ping Chau, but because it sounds completely identical to Peng Chau, Tung is added to the name (meaning East).
This adorable little island is in the shape of a kidney bean, and it’s largest village Sha Tau has become somewhat of a ghost town with only a few dozen locals and no regular ferry, water, or electricity supplies. The island has a hiking path which will take around 2 hours to complete, but there is plenty of nature and history to take in along the way.
Other than the quaint villages and astonishingly beautiful views, a must visit is Tin Hau dedicated temple in the village of Sha Tau, named Tam Kung Temple. The early residents of the island were from Swatow and have continued to worship Tam Kung ever since with a festival every decade. There’s even a ceremonial bell from the Qing Dynasty still hanging, talk about ringing your bell!
If you are a lover of military history, be sure to take a walk to the colonial military camp. Constructed in 1975 by British Gurkhas, this small camp has largely slipped into delicate over the years but was instrumental during the Japanese invasion. Surprisingly, there is a nuclear fallout shelter still in use, as the island is opposite Shenzhen’s Daya Bay nuclear plant. Urban explorers should be vigilant in checking to see if they have permission to be on government properties on this island, when in doubt always ask a local.
The wildlife on the island extends from summer cicadas singing the songs of their people, to banyan trees, sea urchins, colourful fish, and even cute little cacti here and there. A warning to spider-foes, the spiders on this island love to weave their webs across paths so be sure to wave sticks to catch the webs when walking. Also, bring insect repellant as the mosquitos are a whole other battle.
Tung Ping Chau is a fantastic island to take a visit to, you can opt to camp the night as well and really lose yourself in nature. With little to no mobile service and crystal clear beaches unlike any other, make it your oasis too.
There are few ferries travelling to Tung Ping Chau each weekend departing from Ma Liu Shui pier near University East Rail MTR.
The boat departs from Ma Liu Shui on Saturday at 9am and 3:30pm, and on Sunday’s at 9am only. Return on Saturday and Sunday at 5:15pm only.
The boat costs around $90 an takes around 1hour and 40 minutes.
Tap Mun (Grass Island)
In the north-eastern districts of Hong Kong lies a former pirate colony Tap Mun, aka Grass Island. This unsurprisingly grassy island is home to around 150 Hakka and Tanka boat people and has become a haven for flat-path hiking, fishing, and camping enthusiasts alike. With hardworking locals, naturists, and roaming cows for company, this island offers you a foray back to nature without booking a flight.
Stepping off the ferry onto this small island you’ll be greeted by locals drying their catches of the day in the sun, and a view of some spectacular trees and nature. The local restaurant, Sun Hon Kee, serves some of the best and freshest seafood and the famous ice-less milk tea.
The island offers a cool 2km hike around to explore all that there is to offer. Beginning at the pier you’ll find yourself a top the hill of the island which gives you a gorgeus sea breeze as well as some great opportunities for panoramic photography. There’s also a couple of tranquil temples dotted throughout as well as the famous Balance Rock: a huge rock balanced so precariously you might not want to get too close (it’s safe, just don’t go kicking it too much otherwise the locals may be cross you destroyed a natural site).
For those looking to camp, Grass Island is a little more hardcore. With limited amenities and cold nights in winter, you’ll find isolation and tranquility under the stars- see more about our Tap Mun camping guide here.
For the urban explorers, be sure to venture over to King Lam School. Opened in 1957, as the population of the island shrunk it was finally closed in 2003 with only one pupil attending. Imagine how boring recess was for that student?
To travel to Grass Island, you can catch the ferry from Ma Liu Shui near University MTR, or a kaito from Sai Kung.
Tung Lung Chau (aka Nam Tong Island)
If you can’t stop yourself from scrambling over the first rock you see, then heading out to the tip of Clearwater Bay Peninsula will bring you to Tung Lun Chau. Largely uninhabited and a popular destination for rock climbers as well as campers, Tung Lung Chau is full of history and everyone’s uncle’s favourite drunk-genre of music: rock. Although the hikes on this island can get a little busy on the weekends, it is still a great location to go to get away from it all for a bit.
A point of interest on this rocky outcrop is the Tung Lung Chau Fort. Built sometime between 1662 and 1722, this protected rubble was once used to defend the island from pirate invaders but now marks as a landmark for the camping grounds. There’s also Hong Kong’s oldest rock carvings along one of the trails; a 5,000 year of mural which supposedly depicts a dragon. If you follow the paved path, you’ll encounter this bad boy soon enough.
For the climbers, there are three options of climbing: Technical wall, sea gully, and big wall. Big Wall also offers an abseil point for those looking to go off the edge (check what equipment you need before hand). Be sure to bring along climbing chalk and an experienced buddy when tackling these climbs, the last thing you want is an injury to spoil a perfect trip to Tung Lung Chau. If you want to fall in love with climbing and want to learn the basics, first visit an indoor centre across Hong Kong to learn from the best.
Local cuisine on this island a cheap and delicious, a good way to finish off the visit before embarking on the ferry is to sample the locally sourced seafood and vegetables. Yum.
Catch the ferry from Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier, Yau Tong, which departs several times per day until 4.30pm. The very last ferry leaves Tung Lung Chau at 5pm daily.
Looking for more camping inspirations? check out our handy location guide to camping under the stars here
Ready to get more in to the outdoors? Challenge yourself with Hong Kong’s hardest hikes.
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Go on, get out of here! You heard us, you’ve been working and playing too hard, and now it’s time to step away from the comforts of familiarity and dive headfirst into some of Hong Kong’s most isolated (and beautiful) islands. Have you ticked them all off your bucket list? Tung Ping Chau (Jumaji…