Island Excursions: Kaito Ferry edition
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
This week we're exploring the lesser known islands by Kaito ferry, taking you to all corners of Hong Kong - ranging from the smallest inhabited island in Hong Kong, to the most southern point. Read on to find out how to make the most of these island getaways without ever having to leave Hong Kong waters.
*Note: Although most of these Kaito ferry services are more relaxed when it comes to riding with your pup, it's safer to have a muzzle for your dog on you at all times (just in case)!
1. Ap Chau & Kat O
You’ll need to allocate a full day to visit Kat O & Ap Chau, as the journey to Ap Chau is a one hour 45 minute Kaito ride from Ma Liu Shui at 9am - one way! Catch this ferry at Ma Liu Shui Landing No. 3, which is further along the waterfront and is separate to the Tung Ping Chau Ferry service. Ap Chau, also known as Robinson Island, is the smallest inhabited island in Hong Kong, and is home to some unique terrain. People usually visit this island to take photos of the arch, in the shape of a duck’s head, and where Ap Chau gets it’s name. You’ll get 1 hour 45 minutes to explore the island before the same ferry picks you up around 12:30pm for a pitstop at Kat O, where you can stop for some food and a quick explore, of the second island. It’s important to be good at time-keeping for these ferries, as there is only one ferry to take you back and forth throughout the day. Ticket prices are $45 per adult, and dog. For more details on this ferry, check here. The other option to get to Ap Chau and Kat O is to the catch the ferry from Sha Tau Kok pier, which runs more frequently throughout the day. Check here for more information.
2. Grass Island (Tap Mun)
Tap Mun is a popular destination for campers to visit, and has a thriving cow population. A majority of the trails on the island are exposed, however, so do keep this in mind if planning a visit during the hotter months. Our favourite spot to visit on this island, is the man-made pool by the beach, which makes for an excellent harbour to swim and explore the marine life and corals. To get here, there are two ferries operating from Wong Shek Pier and Ma Liu Shui. From Ma Liu Shui, the ferry picks up passengers along Sham Chung and Lai Chi Chong before arriving at Tap Mun. After which, you have the option to go onto Ko Liu Wan, Chek Kong and Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung. The other ferry, from Wong Shek Pier, also operates in the same way, in the sense that you need to stop off at several locations before arriving to Tap Mun. The only plus side to these two ferries is that the ticket prices are very cheap, ranging from $11-20 if coming from Wong Shek Pier or $20-30 if coming from Ma Liu Shui. If you don't want to be waiting around on the ferry, you can charter a speedboat to pick you up from Wong Shek Pier, but the prices will be much higher than the ferries, and you will need to negotiate this with the captain.
3. Tung Lung Chau
Tung Lung Chau is a great island escape from the city, and is the easiest to get to if you’re coming from the island.
There are two ferries to take you to Tung Lung Chau - one from Sam Ka Tsuen, and the other from Sai Wan Ho - both only running on weekends and public holidays. Similar to the last island, there are a number of ferries that can take you out to the island throughout the day. Though for some reason, ferry prices differ, depending on where you alight - if coming from Sai Wan Ho, tickets cost $55 per adult and $10 per dog. However, if coming from Sam Ka Tsuen, tickets are $45 per adult and $20 per dog. Tung Lung Chau is a popular spot for camping, rock climbing and exploring! You can walk the whole island in 4 hours (without detours) and take in the historical relics in the form of the Tung Lung Fort and ancient rock carvings. If you plan on doing this, we recommend alighting at Tung Lung Chau Public Pier, the first ferry pier, and walking the island counter-clockwise, to end up at the cafes, by the Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier. If you don’t fancy something so strenuous, alight at Tung Lung Chau (north) Pier (the second ferry stop) next to a dog-friendly beach, and head to the left of the island from here, where you will pass the Tung Lung Lighthouse, and watch the daring rock climbers and zip-liners in action, amongst the campers. If, when you arrive, decide you fancy a bit of a challenge, take a bush-whacking hike to see the stunning “Belly Button Cave”. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Check here for more information and ferry times.
4. Tung Ping Chau
Visit the most easterly point of the Hong Kong territory in Tung Ping Chau. The kidney bean-shaped island is closer to China, than it is Hong Kong, and is probably the closest to travelling we will get without having to use our passports. Due to its close proximity to China, mobile reception may be limited, so its probably best to stick closely to your group, as calling or texting will be limited. The ferry, departing from Ma Liu Shui Public Pier, takes an hour and 45 minutes to reach this geological wonder, and costs $100 per adult. Their ferry only operates on weekends, with two ferries departing from Ma Liu Shui on Saturdays, and only one return time at 5:15pm - so be prepared to set a whole day aside if you are planning to visit. There are a couple of eateries on the island, so you can grab some refreshments and a meal whilst you're there, and explore the island at a leisurely pace.
For more information on the ferry schedule, click here.
5. Po Toi
From the most easterly point of Hong Kong, we now take our travels to the southernmost island of Hong Kong, Po Toi! To visit the Po Toi islands, you may catch a ferry from Aberdeen or Stanley for $25 per adult. However, be sure to check the ferry schedule before you head out, as the operating times are a little unusual for these ferries, only operating on Tuesday, Thursdays, weekends and public holidays. Po Toi has facilities and restaurants, making it an easy island getaway. Some points of interest include the prehistoric rock carvings, the lighthouse (pictured top right) and the ruins of Mo Family Mansion, which some say is haunted! Po Toi Island is also a popular spot for campers, and if you're lucky, you'll be greeted by the island's friendly resident husky. Click here for information on ferry schedule.
6. Sharp Island
Unlike the islands mentioned above, the kaito to Sharp Island, really is a small wooden motorized boat, and can ferry you to one of two piers; Kiu Tsui Beach or Hap Mun Bay. The kaito will stop at a pier by Kiu Tsui Beach first, which is sandwiched between a gazetted and non-gazetted beach, and the famous tombolo is visible from here. If visiting during low-tide, you can get off here and walk over to explore the connected island, and make a day of it on the non-gazetted beach, which welcomes dogs. If you fancy a bit more of a hike, you can stay on the kaito until the next stop at Hap Mun Bay, where you can hike to Kiu Tsui Beach, to catch the kaito back from the other pier. Alternatively, you can duck under the railings to your left once you hop off at the pier, to coasteer your way along to the man-made rock pool. However, this is only for the more advanced explorers, as some climbs are near vertical.
It’s important to note, that Hap Mun Bay is a gazetted beach and strictly off-limits to dogs, so if you are attempting to hike the trail to Kiu Tsui Beach, keep your dogs on leash until after you’ve passed the lifeguard station. Tickets can cost $30-50 round-trip, depending on which Kaito service you take from the Sai Kung waterfront.
7. Yim Tin Tsai
Yim Tin Tsai, meaning “Little Salt Field” was once heavily populated by the Hakka clan, and is slowly making a comeback with its revitalisation and cultural arts projects. Although you won’t be able to visit the salt fields or church with the dogs, there is still a lot to see around the island, with their outdoor art exhibits, and the connecting Jade Girdle Bridge which takes you over to neighbouring island, Kau Sai Chau. The whole walk can take up to two hours, without any detours, and there is a small ungazetted beach on Kau Sai Chau for you and the dogs to take a break, before heading back to Yim Tin Tsai to catch the kaito back. Unlike the other islands above, Yim Tin Tsai is a short 15 minute kaito ride from Sai Kung, outside Hung Kee Seafood Restaurant. You can purchase a $60 ticket for a round-trip ticket, which also covers admission to the salt fields and Yim Tin Tsai Heritage Centre. For more information, check the schedule via yimtintsai.com
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