Despite feeling like a complete wilderness, there are parts of the outermost Sai Kung peninsula that are very accessible. The village of Hoi Ha provides an ideal spot for beginners and families that almost anyone could have a crack at; whilst our other featured location at Pak Lap Wan is a much more intrepid paddling experience at the best of times.
Nestled on the southern end of a stunning coastal inlet, Hoi Ha is a sanctuary for many types of marine life and is among the most pristine places to be found in Hong Kong. Never mind the kayaking, for many the beautiful journey just to get there is worth the effort. However, once you dip your paddle into her clear calm waters, Hoi Ha takes on an entirely new aura.
Getting to Hoi Ha is pretty simple despite its far-flung location. Simply make your way to Sai Kung ferry pier, then embark on either a 20-minute minibus or taxi ride to Hoi Ha village. The minibus runs every half hour and a taxi will set you back around $120. Try to make this trip on weekdays, as there is a lot of pressure on transportation during weekends and public holidays! Don’t leave it too late in the day to head home either. From the bus stop, walk through the village directly down to the waterfront where there are a couple of different vendors of kayaks. One can rent a single kayak, life vest and paddle for $100 per day or double kayak at $200 (locker expenses included on weekdays).
Once on the water, Hoi Ha inlet is a joy to explore. With abundant sea life, scattered coral beds and beaches aplenty, there is more than enough to fill a day. If you’re eager to venture out further, navigate around the headland towards Wong Shek or Tap Mun Island and capture fantastic vistas of Sharp Peak.
Tucked away in the secluded eastern reaches of Sai Kung Country Park, Pak Lap Wan is a great location for a number of activities and serves as an ideal launch pad into the Hong Kong Geopark. Pass the dramatic High Island reservoir and through grassy fields home to numerous wild cattle, before reaching the white sands of Pak Lap Beach. Embark on an adventure in search of rocky islands and untouched beaches. But unlike peaceful Hoi Ha, once you escape the confines of Pak Lap Wan, you’re out in pretty exposed territory.
Between April and September, the easterly trade winds tend to deviate elsewhere and this is the prime time to paddle the Geopark. You may get lucky during the other half of the year, but be prepared to paddle through swell and stay clear of the rocks. If the conditions do indeed turn out to be a little choppy on the day, then one can hug the coastline and head for the sheltered waters of Sai Kung harbour to the west. Although the rock formations there are not as pronounced, they are still impressive. But when winds and swell come from the east, make sure you are fully prepared! Pay close attention to forecasts and sea conditions prior to departure on the day; if you are not sure, then it is better to paddle somewhere safer like Hoi Ha or Sai Kung Town.
I will reiterate that heading out on the open waters around the Geopark is not recommended for beginners and would recommend joining a tour group. Two operators provide tours here; ‘Kayak and Hike Ltd’ run by Paul Etherington who specializes in Geopark paddles and my company ‘Wild Hong Kong’ operates tours to both the locations mentioned above.