UNESCO GEOPARK EXPEDITIONS
What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?
Put simply, it is an area / region recognised by UNESCO as being of globally significant and unique geological features that should be showcased and protected.
Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark is made up of 8 such areas all encompassed within the one Geopark.
Sea Kayak Hong Kong has created a sea kayak expedition to 7 of the 8 locations neatly divided into two distinct sections both significantly different in their geological AND seakayaking nature.
Divided into 2 sections or the entire experience! to create 3 amazing sea kayak trips.
The Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark comprises 8 individual sections. seven (7) of these sections are connected, but the 8th is seperated by a 20km section of ocean.
Sea Kayak Hong Kong has created 3 tours that cover up to 7 of the 8 sections of the Geopark. We have divided the Geopark into 2 logical sections and made it possible to combine both in one single expedition to create the 3rd option.
As section 1, the Sai Kung East Country park coastline is totally exposed, we can only offer this during periods of relatively low winds and small swells.
Section 2 is entirely different. A completely enclosed lagoon, except for the journey there, is sheltered in all weather conditions (typhoons are an exception). So we have seasons. Read the details to asertain which one is for you. All are world class sea kayaking trips.
Section 1 - The Sai Kung East Country Park
4 days 3 nights
This tour starts in the north eastern Hong Kong town of Sai Kung, situated in Shelter Bay. Our kayak trip starts with an easy paddle between the many sand islands just off the coast.
Sai Kung is a relaxed, beach-side town that has become a popular place to live for the upper middle class population of Hong Kong. It is the jumping off point to some of the most beautiful, natural landscapes and beaches in Hong Kong. We pack our kayaks on the town beach then begin our journey east and north.
We have plenty of time today. Our afternoon paddle to the first camp is only 10kms so we can take the opportunity to commence our exploration of the outer rim of the Geopark as we pass by Sharp Island. This is the outer crater rim of the super volcano that exploded here 140 million years ago and created the amazing volcanic landscapes that we will be viewing over the next few days. If we have time we may stop to do some snorkeling on one of the inner coral reefs. The water here is clear and blue, having no other land mass between it and the Pacific Ocean.
There are plenty of deserted beaches to choose from for a swim as paddle through the inner islands of Shelter Bay.
We will also attempt to paddle through the first of many sea arches that are to be found in this amazing Geopark journey.
As the day draws to a close, we select one of the remote beaches to camp overnight, our choice will be determined by the prevailing wind direction at the time.
A beach campfire is a great way to get to know your fellow paddlers and iscuss the upcoming strategy for he next day’s paddle.
No light polution here, so if it is cloudless, the stars will be shining down on us.
Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay)
Day 2 sees us up early, ready to explore. It’s a long one (22 kms) so me need an early start.
Our first stop is Bluff Island. This is one of 5 islands on this journey that have sea caves and arches. We are now on the outer edge of Shelter bay so as soon as we round the headland, we will know what type of conditions we will be in for the next 3 days. From here on we will be exposed to the open sea and all she can throw at us.
Paddling around these outer islands (Bluff Island, Basalt Island and Town Island) we will understand how this amazing coastline has attracted the attention of the UNESCO Geopark organisation.
Towering sea cliffs made of vertical columns of solidified ash, broken and pummelled by the relentless action of the ocean. Sea caves, arches and tunnels carved out of the very rock itself.
Tai Long Wan
DAY 2 (cont)
We take a well deserved rest at Pak Lap Wan, a sheltered beach and local campsite. The only way to get here is by kayak, charter boat or hike.
Departing Pak Lap, we head back out into the open ocean to paddle north. We pass by the dam wall of High Island reservoir – an impressive engineering feat in itself. Our journey today takes us past towering columns of volcanic rock, punctured with deep inlets, cascading waterfalls, remote beaches and small islands.
Depending on weather and sea conditions, we will enjoy lunch at one of these bays or inlets. Our final destination is Tai Long Wan (meaning Big Wave bay in Cantonese). An indicator of what to expect as we head into this spectacular crescent bay. Here we will head to our overnight location to set up camp. An afternoon of surfing, swimming or just relaxing after a long day’s paddle..
Sharp Peak to Grass Island
Day 3 starts with a hike, not a paddle!
After breakfast, its time to scale Sharps Peak, the mountain that has been dominating the skyline since midday yesterday and is directly behind our campsite.
From the peak we can see south back to Sai Kung but turning around we are able to view the distant coastline of Mainland China! and the rest of the journey ahead of us over the next 2 days.
We return to our campsite for an early lunch and swim before heading back out to the open sea again. Once we leave Tai Long Wan we again feel the power of the open ocean as we continue to head north to yet another island – Grass Island – at the mouth of the Tolo Channel.
DAY 3 (cont)
This island has permanent residents earning a living serving food to day trippers or working as fisher folk. This island settlement has been here for millennia. Here we can sample the local fare as a last night celebration for those paddlers leaving the journey the next day. A final farewell drink around the campsite to remember the epic journey behind and send off our new found friends.
Our campsite faces due east so if the weather is in our favour, we will see a gorgeous dawn as the sun rises out of the ocean. After a leisurely breakfast we pack our kayaks to head due west into the Tolo Channel, an ancient, now flooded fault line that cuts deep into the New Territories of Hong Kong.
This deep water channel is home to some of the oldest rocks in Hong Kong (400 million years) and is the geological divide between the volcanic blasts of the Sai Kung East Country Park and the sedimentary geology of the Double Haven Lagoon to the north. It is also home to Hang Hau, a secluded bay that boasts over 80 species of coral. We spend the morning here swimming and snorkeling.
This the last day for some in the group who will be leaving for home. Others will be staying on and completing section 2 of this amazing journey,
For the crew leaving today, it ends too soon and there is transport to catch. After bidding farewell, it is time to make the short paddle south down to the end of Long Bay where our bus is waiting to take us back to civilisation – the thriving city of Hong Kong, is such a contrast to the wild and remote coastline and small local villages we have spent the last 4 days exploring.
This is Hong Kong, a country of amazing surprises.
More images to tell the rest of the story
Section 2 - Double Haven
3 days 2 nights
Serenity, peace and tranquility are the words that best describe the experience of sea kayaking the Double Haven lagoon – in absolute contrast to the dynamic, wild and exposed coastal environment of the Sai Kung East section.
Double Haven (section 2 of the Global GeoPark Tour) is in the far north eastern most region of Hong Kong SAR with NO road access to any part of the country park. Over the next few days we are completely isolated while we are in the lagoon.
Hoi Ha Wan to Double Haven
Departing Sai Kung early by bus, we reach our kayaks at Wong Shek Pier, in the western branch of Long Harbour. After meeting our guides, we pack our kayaks with personal gear. The provisions and camping equipment are already stowed.
Our first destination is Hoi Ha Wan, home to over 80 species of coral reef, a little more than an hours paddle away by kayak. Here we join other paddlers who have recently completed the Sai Kung East section (1) of the Global Geopark Expedition.
We spend a short time snorkelling before having our first lunch on a fine sand beach surrounded by rainforest.
Haven of solitude.
Our afternoon paddle is longer and takes us across the Tolo Channel and out of the volcanic region of Hong Kong into the more sedate, sedimentary geography, stepping back in time another 200 million years.
Once we cross the Tolo Channel and round the eastern most headland we enter the sheltered waters of Double Haven. The towering cliffs of Sai Kung East are replaced with low flat islands with broad beaches, mudflats, mangroves and forested hillsides that reach down to the waters edge.
Once we enter into the main lagoon, the transformation is complete. Waves disappear as we are surrounded by blocking islands keeping the elements at bay.
Our first night camp is in a sheltered bay – a beach campfire is a must have to celebrate the wilderness solitude.
Exploration of Double Haven Lagoon
Today we leave our campsite intact and head out for a day of exploring. Double Haven Lagoon historically was a very rich fishing and agricultural area. Today, all but a few of the villages are 100% deserted.
As we paddle from island to island we pass village remnants reminding us of the recent and ancient Chinese history. It is surreal, just 10 kms from the megacity of Shenzhen, hidden from view by the surrounding low lying islands.
Haven of solitude.
We make a short hike to visit the old, not quite deserted walled village of Lai Chi Wo to turn back the clocks and see how the Hakka Chinese lived in years gone by.
Again we are hit by he surreal contrasts hidden in this sleepy part of Hong Kong, sandwiched between 2 cities housing more than 30 million people between them.
We continue to glide peacefully, stopping at deserted beaches to swim or snorkel. This bay still boasts areas of coral reef. Because we left our camp established there is no need to hurry today. As long as we are back in time to prepare dinner, we have no other pressing engagements!
We spend the evening relaxing at camp, feeling how completely isolated we are.
Today is our return journey to civilisation. Leaving Double Haven, we head for distant Port Island at the mouth of the Tolo Channel. We are not sure whether its
the red sedimentary rocks or the fact that the island marks the entrance to the inland port of Shatin, but Port Island offers another chance to snorkel on the coral reefs.
As we pass Grass Island we again enter the sheltered waters of Long Harbour and quietly paddle back to our original starting place, 3 days ago.
A serene, surreal journey ends as we climb back aboard our bus and head away to the busy metropolis of Hong Kong.