Welcome to the first in my new little series, Hidden Hong Kong. For those of you who are just here for the cake, don’t worry, this isn’t replacing the chocolate! It’s just a little addition, exploring the less well known parts of the place I call home, showing you places you never knew were there.
What better place to start with a series about hidden things than with a surprise birthday trip? A couple of weekends ago Andy told me we were heading out for the day as part of my birthday present. Apparently I needed a bikini, sunscreen and a hat, and to be prepared to get wet.
Now, none of that description sounded like it was going to involve wine, cake or flowers! He obviously hadn’t been getting any of the not so subtle hints! I was naturally rather suspicious about exactly what he had planned….
We headed up to Sai Kung, in the North of Hong Kong, well away from the skyscrapers and crowds. The little town wraps around a the bay, a floating fish market ties up on the pier at the weekends, and seafood restaurants display tanks brimming with all manner of marine life.
Andy revealed the surprise, we were going to kayak out onto the water and explore the islands and beaches.
Even at 9am the day was blazing hot. Our liberally applied suncream was already melting off us as we met up with Paul, our guide and owner of Kayak and Hike, and the rest of our group.
Climbing in a speed boat, we whizzed out on the water, leaving the beautiful hills of Sai Kung behind us.
The Hong Kong Geo Park is a protected area of islands off the coast of Hong Kong. It’s brimming full of incredible rock formations, columns, caves and sea arches all formed by volcanic activity over 140 million years ago.
Landing on High Island, or Leung Shuen Wan, we were given a quick briefing and jumped, a little unsteadily, into our kayaks. It’s been a couple of years since I last did any paddling, something my arms grumpily reminded me of after only about two minutes on the water! The sore muscles were worth it though when we arrived at our first destination, thankfully only just around the comer. A little secluded beach, empty and quiet before any of the junks and day trip boats arrived. We had it all to ourselves. The water was clearer than I knew possible in Hong Kong. Desperate to cool off, we jumped straight in.
Back in our kayaks, a long paddle took us to another beach, this one even more picturesque than the last. From here, Paul led us up onto the hilly ridge above. Andy hadn’t told me there was a hiking element involved in our trip, so I scrambled up the rocky hill in bikini bottoms and flip flops. Not to be recommended!
It was worth it for the view.
Just look at that.
Blue skies, turquoise waters and white beaches stretching out all the way to China.
We even snorkelled in hope of seeing some of Hong Kong’s coral. Who knew dirty, stinking, scummy watered Hong Kong had coral?! Admittedly I didn’t see anything except for a few rocks and a couple of tiny fish, but I’d never realised there was anywhere in Hong Kong with water clear enough to snorkel at all!
As the day wore on the junk boat parties began to arrive in our little corner of paradise, so we headed off out to sea again. This time in search of caves and sea arches. By this point I was getting into the rhythm of paddling, moving through the water, a cool breeze cutting through the burning sun on my back.
On the way we paddled between islands sat close together in the water. The cliffs rose up straight out of the water, little waves breaking on them, the surface covered in towering rock formations. We felt like we been lifted up and dropped into Jurassic Park.
(photo courtesy of Kayak and Hike)
(photo courtesy of kayak and hike)
The sea arches were just incredible. Towering upward, natures cathedrals, rising above us.
Cool and quiet inside, water drips slowly from above. Slowly, slowly we crept through the narrow passage way, kayaks snaking in a line.
(photo courtesy of kayak and hike)
Just when we were really starting to flag, the speed boat picked us up again and whizzed us back for a big seafood lunch, a make shift shower, and the chance to compare sunburn.
If you’re in Hong Kong I would defiantly recommend a trip with Kayak and Hike. Paul was fantastic, giving us just the right amount of information about the geo park, whilst giving us plenty of time to relax and soak in the sun and the peace.
You can find all the details here.