Updated: Jan 21
Tung Ping Chou is northern most island in Hong Kong, is remote and lost in a geological wonder, this place is pristine and how I hope that the houses could have been preserved in a better state! #tungpingchau
This small protected island in Mirs Bay is a stones-throw from Shenzhen and nearly two hours from the nearest pier in Ma Lui Sui at Ma On Shan. The kidney-bean shaped island has an area of just 1.16km and is made up of sedimentary rock, unlike the rest of HK (which was formed from volcanic igneous rock).
It is only 4km from mainland China and is the territory’s most easterly point. #hikehongkong
Starting point: Ferry from Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier to Tung Ping Chau, 1 and half hour. Minibus 27 could go to the pier from Sha Tin MTR Station. The walk from University MTR station to the ferry pier takes 10-minutes on foot from exit B, or you can hop in a green taxi for HK$16…
Hike Duration: Allow around 4 hours but the return boat is only at 5pm, you have plenty of time to chillax by the beach after the hike.
End Hike: Anticlock or clock wise..... PIER.
Hike Difficulty: 2.5/5
Scenery Rewards: 4.5/5
The ferry service only operates on Saturday and Sunday, should you miss your return ferry home you may need to wait for a week to return home unless you charter the whole boat, which may cost around HK$700 one way.
They start selling the tickets at 8.30 for the 9.00 ferry. I would advise you to arrive around 8.15 and start queueing about 8.30, somedays large eco groups book their tickets in advance and can take up half the ferry!
It cost HK$90 return, please prepare small notes as there is a sign that says "no change provided" or pay with Octopus card.
On the return leg, make sure you arrive back at the pier around 4.45pm and not miss the ferry! The best place to sit on the ferry is on the upper deck.....the last few seats on the lower deck below can get quite wet from the waves and occasionally splashes depending on the weather!
There is no Hong Kong signal on this island no 4G for sure! If you are on roaming, maybe it is best to turn off auto roam. Download whatever you need before you start your journey on the ferry.
Geopark rules do not officially permit camping, you will see the no camping sign board everywhere but police openly allow it and may check your ID (as you will have crossed a water border). There is a basic camp site which is next to the island’s best spot for sunrise. Or there are basic dorms at Tai Tong Wan or A Ma Wang (book in advance with Mr Yan, 9208 3063). Groups of seven or more pay $380 a night each, including three meals.
There are public toilets all over the island and one of the two weekend restaurants has free cold showers (and hot showers for HK$20).
Bring insect repellent! We visited there on first week of November, did not spray any repellent and surprisingly not one mosquito or sandfly bite! It probably depends on the season!
Bring a packed lunch, beach mat, swimming suit and some food and plenty of water! You can bring your snorkeling gear if you want to explore what's in the water! I heard that you can find nudi branch (sea slugs),soft & hard corals.
There is few eateries offering some quality food, few locals return back during the weekends to man local eateries with local taste and recipes!
Arriving at the Island
You will arrive at the pier, there is a choice to start your journey from clockwise or anti-clockwise. We chose anti-clockwise as there was a huge crowd taking the clockwise loop.
Walk past A Ma Wan beach, keep an eye out for the amazing rock features here: wave-carved shale, iron-rich rocks weathered to resemble chequer boards, and stromatolitic structures made of fossils of cyanobacteria, just to name a few.
Head to the village, spend some time here, explore and discover the old hamlets.
Tung Ping Chau was once home to a bustling island community, with a population of more than 2,000 in 10 villages, mostly focused on fishing for abalone, sea urchins and fish, or growing peanuts and sweet potatoes. But by the 1970s, only a few elderly people remained, living on earnings from the sale of dried cuttlefish and sea-urchin cream. You can see many sea urchins washed a shore at A Ma Wan.
The island has no following tap water or electricity supply, so villagers built a reservoir at the back of the Tin Hau Temple and, today, generators provide much needed power for weekend visitors. You can see the walls of the houses are made from the stones from the island, and an outer cement coating to protect the wall. It is a pity that they are not restored. But these days some villagers come back to escape the city life during the weekends and live in their ancestral home. #HongKonggeologicalisland
Walk on towards end of the beach and follow the coast and you will discover some amazing rock formations.
The Watch-tower Rock 更樓石 is such an amazing formation.....these are two huge sea stacks about 7-8 m high on the wave-cut platform on the eastern tip of Tung Ping Chau. Constant coastal erosion along the vertical joints of siltstone enlarged the joints, first forming a sea arch. Sea stacks were formed after the collapse of the sea arch.
You can find some tidal pools on this plate of rock and some, with fish, sea urchins, and even corals in them.
From here you walk on and the Lung Lok Sui...... translated as dragon entering the water will be clearly visible on the left after about 10-20 minutes. You can enter through the clearing down to the rocks. The waves here can be rough and in case you don't want to get wet, don't get too close to the sea. There were few hikers who were splashed with waves and got themselves pretty drenched.
The walk on this stretch is a shaded wooded area with bushes, cactus, bamboo groves.
There are countless butterflies flying around, and a very loud cicada that goes RRRRAATTTTTTTTTTTT perhaps a mating call! It was strange to find cicadas in November, but after some research, I found out that Tung Ping Chau is the only place in Hong Kong that's home to an autumnal cicada species.
There are few more stops along the way before you reach Cham Keng Chau 斬頸洲 translated as Chop Neck Coast, abrasion canyon. You can see all the way to Sai Kung peninsula, and the very distinct Sharp Peak from the view points.
When you arrive at the Cham Keng Chau opening, descend the slope carefully, and you will be greeted by the boundless ocean and distinctively stratified shale bed, with Cham Keng Chau on your right. The spur, originally attached to the island, broke off from continuous erosion, and a natural corridor took shape. Walk along the passage between the sharp cliffs and enjoy the refreshing cool breeze. This canyon was created from the erosion of the weakest points of the fault, first a cave, an arch and now and now a corridor.
From here we walked to the friendly Tai Pai Tong (eateries). There are a few eateries here, we made a good choice by selecting the largest store, they seem to have most choices on the menu. The service was friendly and food was surprisingly good and value for money. One of those island vibes you don't find in Hong Kong.
Fried noodles seem to be a speciality here unless you go for instant noodle or fried singapore vermicelli. It was a happy surprise when your food arrive! FRIED NOODLES as it came out literally FRIED.....only HK$65 for a big portion!
We also ordered a chef special, 'Salted Chicken' this was the star! Absolutely delicious! We never expected it! We even had tou-fu-far, sweet toufu pudding for dessert!
The price was reasonably cheap for the portion and delicious of course! We put back all the calories we worked out during the hike! After some beer, I felt an overwhelming need to close my eyes......it was siesta time!
Bring a picnic mat, you could rest and relax, swim at Cheung Sha Wan or Tai Wong Wan beach or just take a nap. The waves here are gentle and calm and so perfect to put you to sleep.
If time permits, take a swim, dig for calms or simply skim stones! The mudstone erodes into flat pebbles that are ideal for skimming across the water, and might skip 10 times or more before vanishing into the sea. We had a challenge just to kill some time skimming stones!
Whatever you do, just be back at the pier by 4.45pm. There will be a long queue at this time with eager Hong Kongers waiting anxiously for the ferry to come! They start queuing as early as 4.30. The boat attendant will collect your ticket, and you won't be able to keep your ticket souvenir.
There are some campers who comes in on a Saturday at this time or if you come on a Sunday at this time you will just need to stay the whole week in the island! Without WIFI or 4G I think it can be a Robison Crusoe challenge as we see it in these times!
We watched the sun go down from the boat towards the west as the colours changed into a pink hue and then darkness descends. As you approach Ma On Shan, your 4G signal gets stronger and you will get all your alerts over the past 7 hours when you were off grid! The lights of the skyscrapers reflected and brightened the Shing Mun River, as you arrive back to civilization!
Tung Ping Chau is truly rugged and remote!! No phones, no signals no distractions, just back to nature!
Date visited: 1st November 2019