Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Reaching the top of Sharp Peak is one of Hong Kong's most aesthetically rewarding adventures. Although no higher than 500m, the peak overlooks a stunning strip of white sand that lines the rugged mountainous terrain of Sai Kung East Country Park. The difficulty of this hike comes from prolonged exposure to the elements as there is little to no shelter for much of the incline, so bringing ample water is key. This is definitely one of the more challenging adventures on offer in Hong Kong, however the scenery that you pass through is extraordinary and is 100% worth the grind.
Hike Location: New Territories, Sai Kung East Country Park
Hike Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Hike Length: 7-8hours (allowing for non-moving time)
High Distance: 13-16km (depending on where you finish)
Hike Incline: 468m
TIPS: An early start is required to make the most of this challenging trail. If hiking during the summer months then I recommend AT LEAST 3L of water per person.
Instructions for reaching the start point:
This hike begins at Sai Wan Pavilion in Sai Kung East Country Park. Transit time to the pavilion will likely be over an hour as this is one of the more remote trails in Hong Kong. You can reach the pavilion via taxi or minibus. The only minibus that heads that far out is the Village Bus 29R which leaves from Sai Kung Town at various times throughout the day. The only other option is taxi, so I suggest taking the MTR to the nearest station, Hang Hau, and then catching a taxi directly from the station to the pavilion. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Hang Hau to Sai Kung public pier and then a taxi from the pier to the pavilion. This option might be slightly cheaper.
When you finally reach the pavilion, simply follow the concrete walkway towards the remote beach-village of Sai Wan.
The walkway will take you through dense tree coverage for roughly one kilometre, after which the canopy opens up and makes way for a stunning view of the breathtakingly blue waters of High Island Reservoir.
The path then leads you though Sai Wan Village to Sai Wan Beach. This is the first of four incredible white sand beaches that you'll come across on this hike, so I advise waiting until you've built up more of a sweat before taking a dip.
Continue to follow the path northwards as it wraps its way around the coastline before descending upon the next beach. If this is your first time exploring this region of Sai Kung, then I guarantee you the second beach and its dramatic mountainous backdrop will blow you away.
Once at water level, walk along the sand to the small village at the end of the beach known as Ham Tin. It might be worth stocking up on some sugary drinks here before you begin the harsh ascent. Cross the make-shift bridge and head straight through the village until you arrive at the junction below (photo 12).
Head straight across the junction and continue along the overgrown pathway until you find yourself walking along a sandy beach trail. This will lead you to the third and longest beach; Tai Wan. This long strip of white sand is often exposed to some of Hong Kong's best surf and although I am yet to do it, I can imagine a weekend of beers, camping and waves would make for an awesome time away from the city.
Again, if you can resist getting in the water here then keep pushing on until you reach the fourth and final beach. Here, you need to head towards the bushes right at the end of the long strip of sand. At first it will look like there is no pathway, but as you approach the bushes the trodden route will become obvious.
At this point there are two options for tackling Sharp Peak. Either you take a left and head along the nearest ridgeline, or you can take the more adventurous route and aim for the opposite ridgeline further North. This blog takes you up via the latter. So continue straight and you'll shortly descend upon my favourite beach; Tung Wan. This inlet is super secluded and is ideal for cooling off before tackling the ascent.
When you're ready, the trail carries on directly behind the beach, in between the two trees in photo 19. It'll take you across a hidden subtropical river system and through dense vegetation before arriving at a dirt track marked with ribbons.
From here on, just follow the track to the top of Sharp Peak. The incline is unforgiving and very exposed so take your time. The final part of the ascent requires a small amount of bouldering, but nothing the average hiker can't manage.
The views at the top are some of the best I've seen in Hong Kong and are definitely worth the sweat and burn.
Now for the decent. The goal here is to reach the small ferry boats at Chek Keng before they stop running for the day. These take you to Wong Shek Pier in the next bay over, where you can wait for a bus heading back to Sai Kung Public Pier. If you miss the small ferries then you'll need to walk an extra 3km (potentially in the dark) to get to the Pak Tam Au public toilet and bus stop. From there you'll be able to catch a taxi or bus back into Sai Kung Town.
First, follow the ridge trail down, heading back in the direction of the beaches. Shortly you'll see the path turn off to the right in the direction of the sunset (photo 29). Follow this route. The path here is steep and some of the rocks are loose so take care. Photo 30 shows the descent you'll take.
The route will take you over the hills ahead of you, before finally joining a concrete path. Following this concrete path right (west) will take you to Chek Keng. If you do miss the small ferries then no stress, simply stick to the concrete for another 3km until you reach Pak Tam Au. Try not to get lost on your way back down and enjoy! You can always refer to my maps below if you're still unsure of where to go.
See the route I took on the MAP below and download the KML file to see the route in Google Earth 3D. The KML file is compatible with both desktop and mobile but will only run if you have the Google Earth app downloaded on your device.
Below is a screenshot from the Google Earth KML file.