There are many spots in Hong Kong that can feel far removed from the city, but are in fact just round the corner or over the hill from town. Then, there are those rare confines that are genuinely far removed from civilization. The Southern tip of Lantau Island is such a place. Take the time to venture this enclave and you will be rewarded with a trip back in time! An untarnished landscape bursting with deserted beaches, fertile valleys and lush jungles lying in wait.
To reach the start of the trail, catch either the ‘number 11’ bus from Tung Chung, or ‘number 1’ bus from Mui Wo to Tai O. Keep an eye out for Shek Pik Reservoir and disembark at the first bus stop immediately after crossing the dam wall. Take in the beautiful sight of Shek Pik Reservoir and Lantau Peak behind before turning away and following the Lantau Trail south. The first part of the walk follows a catch-water and serves as a gentle warm up before hitting the dirt track. Staying up above the coastline, there are beautiful views to be had across many bays and beaches on this section.
The path then descends to the idyllic Fan Lau Peninsula and its two sandy beaches. There is a small dai pai dong here with a friendly owner that will do you a wholesome bowl of noodles, complete with drinks and fruit. This is the only such facility along the way, so make sure to recharge here before heading on. If interested in historical sites, one can take a half hour excursion to visit Fan Lau Fort on the far end of Fan Lau Peninsula. Built in 1729 during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, the fort was subsequently abandoned by the British in 1898 and a large stone rectangle is most of what remains today.
The second half of the walk from Fan Lau to Tai O follows a much more sheltered section of coastline and is more heavily forested. The area possess great biodiversity, so keep an eye out for interesting plants and animals. Pass through the majestic village of Yi O; complete with agricultural farmland, grazing cattle and abandoned buildings, it’s an exceptionally surreal settlement to stroll through.
Shortly after passing through Yi O the path meets an area of mangroves on the coast, at this juncture there is an option to check out the most stunning of detours at the Man Cheung Po waterfalls and infinity pool. Turn right onto a less distinct path and follow your way up the hill past a few abandoned houses. Continue for around 20 minutes up the valley until you reach the pools. It’s quite a popular spot nowadays, so you may suddenly see more folk in the first five minutes up there than you would have on the entire walk to that point. But upon reaching the pools on a sunny day, it is clear to see what all the fuss is about. Although it is prohibited to swim in the infinity pool (as it serves as a reservoir for Tai O), the numerous rock pools and waterfalls behind it are fair game. Go back down the same way you came up and upon returning to the main path, it’s a simple walk for one hour to reach Tai O.
Once in Tai O, it’s always good to have a wonder around the village, no matter if it’s your first or one hundredth time there. Enjoying the sights and a refreshing beverage always go down a treat after a decent walk. From Tai O you can simply hop on the bus back to civilization, although beware that the ‘number 11’ bus to Tung Chung can sometimes have massive queues during holiday seasons. If this happens, then I strongly recommend cutting your losses by opting for the ‘number 1’ bus to Mui Wo and an onward ferry to Central.
Southern Lantau is such an incredible part of Hong Kong to explore. Any adventure here will leave you with a bunch of great memories and a sound nights sleep!