It’s December, and I’m sitting in my living room wearing a short sleeve shirt with our sliding glass door open. Temperatures are still in the mid-high 70’s, Sean is still growing a garden, and last weekend we were at the beach. As a New Englander, this is the life! This is Hong Kong’s reward to everyone that has endured the brutal heat and humidity of the summer. Plus, it’s the perfect weather to go outside and enjoy one of HK’s favorite pastimes: Hiking!
If you do not try hiking in Hong Kong, then you are missing out on half the city. Sure, HK is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but the city part of HK is actually only a small portion of the city. About three-quarters of land in Hong Kong is protected by parks or nature preserves. Fun fact of the day: There are 24 Country Parks, 22 Special Protected Areas, four Marine Parks and one Marine Reserve, all in little old Hong Kong!
With that being said, you can probably see the appeal of getting out of your 500 square foot apartment and enjoying the beautiful nature which is right at the doorstep. Here are some of our top hikes around Hong Kong from this year:
Plovers Cove Reservoir Country Trail
Starting with our first big hike in Hong Kong: a 10 mile, 7 hour hike around Plover’s Cove reservoir. One of my work friends invited us along to a group hike one of her friends was putting together. At the beginning of the hike, I had an internal panic attack when I read the sign stating: “A few sections are gravelly and extremely challenging. It’s only recommended for experienced hikers in good physical condition.” Okay, so we may have started off a bit ambitious for our skill level, but besides the need to avoid any kind of stairs for the next few days, we made it! What made it worse, is that while we were fretting over if we were fit enough to make it through, our friend Io was using this as a “cool-down” from the marathon he ran the day before. #goals
The views were amazing as we followed the ridge around the reservoir in the New Territories. We were very close to the HK – China border, and could see it off in the distance from some places.
We started off the hike a bit late in the day, and didn’t end up finishing until about 8:30 PM in the dark. Although Sean was completely prepared for this hike by his standards (ensuring there were multiple snacks and PB&J sandwiches) we didn’t really plan for hiking in the dark. We were quite a sight, all using our iPhone flashlights to see the trail and steps.
Quarry Bay to Stanley (over the “Twins”)
Obviously after surviving our first hike, we now considered ourselves professional hikers. This next hike is a bit closer to home, on Hong Kong island, starting on the north side in Quarry Bay and ending on the south side in Stanley. I think the overall hike was only about 4 1/2 hours, but what really made it memorable was what they call “the terrible twins”. Our friend Io organized the hike again, so we should have known we were in for some kind of workout.
Because this hike was on the island, and quite a few of us hiking that day were dog owners so we all brought our fur babies along. The first part of the hike was quite nice. The North Point/Quarry bay area was one of the base camps for the Japanese troops during WWII when they invaded Hong Kong. You can still find the old outdoor stoves in the cooking camps and see some of the entrances into the tunnel system they were building.
Then about halfway through the hike, you get to this valley and in front of you are two gigantic mountains: introducing “the terrible twins”. Let me set the stage: you are already a few hours into the hike and you see these two peaks in front of you, but your path keeps going down and down, which will make you start at the bottom of the twins. The first peak alone has over 1,000 steep stairs to get to the top. You feel very victorious at the summit, until you remember there is another one. Actually, Sean did not remember that there were two, so we placed a bet, which of course I won and still have not received my 30 minute back massage for.
For those of you worrying about Bailey, he made it too. He was actually a champ, taking those twin stairs two at a time… he loves to be first and lead the pack. At the top of the second summit, there were great views of Stanley and the outlying islands.
We didn’t do too much hiking over the summer. Hong Kong is too hot and humid to hike. MyObservatory (our local weather app) is very serious about all weather conditions and basically advises you not to be outside for 2 months for fear of getting heat stroke or dehydration. Being good local citizens, we spent our summer on beaches & Junk boats (post about Junks to come.)
Anyway, we had been meaning to hike to Sai Kung since we first arrived in Hong Kong and finally went last weekend. If you only can do one hike in Hong Kong, this should be your hike. It’s not as intense as the other two I wrote about but it brings you to these stunning white sand beaches.
From the entrance of the country park at the start, you have a short hike through the small village of Sai Wan, which consists of max 6 houses, and down a mountain to get to the first Sai Kung beach. The most popular route to hike is to travel along the different beaches, which get more and more deserted the farther you go. At the second beach on the route, you can rent camping tents and BBQ equipment. It’s very popular for people to hike out to the second beach, pick up some gear and continue hiking for a few hours and spend the night camping at your own deserted beach.
The second beach also has a little local outdoor restaurant. To get to the restaurant there was this make shift bridge, made of old rotten wood planks, some zip ties and tires. Balance is key. After lunch, we spend some time enjoying the beach and watching the sun start to set.
The best way to get back into town is a 40 minute speed boat that stops off at the beach every 2 hours or so. The speed boat itself is a bit of an adventure. Recommendation – HOLD ON.
So that pretty much sums up some of our favorite hikes. Sean and I are leaving this weekend to fly back to the US for the holiday season. I would typically end my posts with “Til next time”, but in this case next time will be in person!
See everyone soon!