Hong Kong is truly blessed. From its lush mountains full of wildlife to rivers, waterfalls and long, sandy beaches, there’s always a trail to explore, and scenery to admire.

Located in Hong Kong’s far east, just off the Sai Kung East Country Park, is the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, recognised in 2009 for its special geological significance and natural beauty. The Geopark consists of a number of scenic islands and peninsulas, with unique volcanic rock formations, ancient caldera, steep cliffs, sea arches, and striking hexagonal rock columns.

Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark coastal rocks
Photo by iStock.com/luxizeng

The water in this far-eastern area is also some of the cleanest and most picturesque you’ll find in Hong Kong, with lovely untouched beaches and coral reefs, making it an unforgettable day trip.

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Getting oriented

The Geopark is vast, and separated into two sections:

  • The Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region, near Sai Kung Town
  • The Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region, which includes a number of seriously remote islands to the north

Some sites are accessible by foot, while others require a ferry ride. The hiking trails are well maintained, with good signs and maps in both English and Chinese.

It is certainly possible to venture out on your own, if you’re comfortable navigating Hong Kong’s public transportation, and really careful about schedules. Alternatively, you can also charter a private cab to the Geopark for up to four passagers.

You will need to carry food and water, because many of the areas are uninhabited, and you won’t be able to buy anything there.

Be aware that some areas are quite far and difficult to get to. In the Northeast region, certain islands require a two-hour ferry ride, only available on weekends and public holidays. And if you miss what is usually the only ferry back, you’re stuck on the island for the night, with no accommodation!

Therefore, your best bet is to join a day trip with a guided tour (see below for recommendations), who will take you to the most beautiful spots, and make your outing easy and painless.

Top sights at Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

Here are some of the most popular places to visit at the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark:

Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region

High Island Reservoir East Dam
High Island Reservoir East Dam | Photo by iStock.com/seaonweb

High Island: This popular spot is one of the easiest ones to get to, as you can take a taxi from Sai Kung Town to the start of the High Island Geo Trail which traverses the High Island Reservoir East Dam. A new wooden boardwalk has been built to let visitors get down by the water for a closer look at unique hexagonal rock columns and a sea cave.

For the fit: Sea-kayaking tours including a visit to Yim Tin Tsai, Mangrove Wetland and several caves can be booked online.

Tourists walking on the Tombolo natural land bridge linking Sharp Island
Tombolo natural land bridge linking Sharp Island | Photo by iStock.com/gionnixxx

Sharp Island: Close to Sai Kung Town, this is a popular day trip on weekends, with a short ferry ride from the Sai Kung Pier. Sharp Island is famous for its tombolo, a natural bridge which appears at low tide, connecting Sharp Island to Kiu Tau Island. Many kayak tour operators take visitors from Sai Kung to Sharp Island on day trips. It’s also one of of top 5 easy hikes in Hong Kong recommendations.

Natural Rock Arch Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark
Photo by iStock.com/TY_Lui

Ung Kong Group: This cluster of islands has steep volcanic cliffs and rock formations. Kayaking day tours will usually take you to the awesome Wang Chau arch of Basalt Island, which you can paddle through. Bluff Island is especially popular with junk boat trips on summer weekends, as it has beautiful beaches where you can enjoy swimming.

Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region

Sedimentary rocks Tung Ping Chau, National Geopark
Sedimentary rocks on Tung Ping Chau | Photo by iStock.com/Meiyi524

Tung Ping Chau: Want something more remote, far from day trippers? Head north—way, way north—to Tung Ping Chau, Hong Kong’s farthest northeastern island. A 1.5-hour ferry ride through the Tolo Channel takes you to this small island, which has an easy-to-follow hiking path on the Ping Chau Country Trail, revealing rock pools, fossil structures and striking scenery. Few people live on this island, so take food and drink with you, and don’t miss the ferry back!

Yan Chau Tong Marine Park, Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark
Yan Chau Tong Marine Park | Photo by iStock.com/TerrySze

Double Haven: Also known as Yan Chau Tong, this idyllic island is part of a protected marine park, but only accessible by public ferry on Sundays. Made from a series of volcanoes some 150 million years ago, you can see its iconic red sedimentary rock, sweeping bays, and a tiny inhabited village, which has a Feng Shui Wall.

If you don’t do tour groups, check out the Geopark’s very useful leaflets, explaining the features in each island, and giving step-by-step guidance on how to get there by public transportation.

Tips for planning your visit to Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

Staying the night in or near the Geopark is possible. Check out our Sai Kung area guide, which has a lot of options for overnighting in Sai Kung town, and nearby areas. The Sai Kung Country Park, as well as the Plover Cove Country Park, have youth hostels, as well as campsites to rent.

Some tour operators will run 2-day Geopark trips, including basic camping accommodation on the beach, with transportation and food. And there are always a number of Airbnbs, particularly in Sai Kung, where you can stay a night.

Recommended tours

Hong Kong Geopark North East Wonder Geo Day Tour: This 8-hour tour packs in a lot of sights: the reddish landscape of Hung Shek Mun, the heavenly Double Haven Marine Park, the local Hakka village of Lai Chi Wo and more.

Sai Kung Hiking and Camping Tour: This is 2 day, 1 night tour of the Sai Kung area. You’ll go hiking, visit Long Ke Beach and camp under the stars.

For detailed information on the different sites in the Geopark, as well as information on how to get there, check out the Hong Kong Geopark website below.

Did you know? You can also explore the official sister Geopark in Itoigawa, Japan!

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