Updated: Sep 7, 2021
The tame Lamma Island has a not so tame secret hiking trail. Starting from Sok Kwu Wan Pier, a familiar concrete pathway shortly turns into a muddy off-piste track that takes you to the top of Mount Stenhouse, the island's tallest point. You are then guided through a narrow bamboo passageway towards the island's most southern point, before looping back through dense subtropical scenery to arrive at Sham Wan Beach (aka Turtle Beach).
Hike Location: Lamma Island
Hike Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult (6/10)
Hike Length: 4 hours
High Distance: 8km
Elevation Gain: 485m
NB: Turtle Beach has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1999 due to the conservation status of Green Turtles. Therefore, it has a restricted period during the nesting season from 1st June to 31st October, when no one is allowed to be on the beach.
This hike begins at the Sok Kwu Wan Pier on Lamma Island. Reaching the pier is pretty straight forward as numerous ferries leave from both Central and Aberdeen throughout the day. Once you arrive, turn right and head past the restaurants and stalls until you reach a temple and can see the concrete steps that mark the beginning of the trail.
For the next 30 minutes simply follow the overgrown pathway past the graves and abandoned houses until you reach an intersection.
At the intersection take a right up the steps and head towards the pagoda. To the right of the pagoda you'll notice numerous dirt tracks. One of these will take you up a challenging incline of 350m until you reach the top of Mount Stenhouse, Lamma Island's tallest point.
The track is lined with occasional red ribbons, so if in doubt look for those. After passing a steep section guided by rope you'll come across an outcrop of impressive rocks that are climbable and give great panoramic views over the island.
Push on a little further and you'll eventually reach a trig point, this marks the highest point of the mountain. After this, you need to venture along a narrow bamboo passageway for 2-3km until you reach large coastal rocks, characteristic of the island's exposed southern side.
Once you leave the bamboo for the rocks, ribbons will again prove useful as the path is not overly clear. If unsure where to go, then refer to my maps attached below. You're essentially hiking a loop trail, with the return journey taking you along the coast of the bay that's home to Turtle Beach.
This final section of the hike is my favourite. Here, the vegetation is wild, dense and overgrown, resembling the likes of a tropical rainforest at times. When we most recently did this hike the heavens let loose and the wet, misty atmosphere made for one of the most adventurous experiences I've had in Hong Kong.
The elevated trail eventually levels off as you reach the beach. If you time the hike right then cooling off with a dip at sunset would be ideal. Despite the rain we still went for a quick swim (the photos below are from earlier on in the day whilst the weather was still on our side).
From the beach, simply follow the paved path back to the intersection where you turned off towards the pagoda and then continue straight to Sok Kwu Wan Pier. Take care and enjoy!
See the route I took on the MAP below (green dot is the starting point) and download the KML file to see the route in Google Earth 3D. Watch my KML tutorials for downloading the map on both laptop and mobile.
Below is a screenshot from the Google Earth KML file.