23 Dec Hike all around HK with the 65km-long Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail
Did you know that it’s possible to walk all the way around Hong Kong Island? Yes, really! Connecting well-known routes, small paths, and lost trails, our newly mapped Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail offers a trailblazing journey of rediscovering Hong Kong Island’s magnificent coastline.
The trail has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re into steep, remote mountain climbs or prefer flat urban harbour-side walks. To make it easier for you to decide which part(s) of the 65-kilometres-long trail you want to hike, we divided it into eight stages, from easy to moderate in difficulty.
The making of the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail
From December 2020 to January 2021, over 200 (!) teams took part in our Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail Mapping Event, jointly organised with Designing Hong Kong, TrailWatch and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, to try out the trail while documenting their favourite places and stories along the way. The event was kept low-key to meet COVID-restrictions: no crowds, no banners, no t-shirts. Instead, participants received instructions online and walked the trail with their own small group, in their own time, at their own pace. Some ran the whole route in one day; most split the journey into shorter leisurely walks. One family walked the entire trail with their two young children; another group road-tested the dog-friendliness; one participant walked all urban sections by night.
The participants’ enthusiasm was infectious as they shared detailed accounts of their hikes, suggestions for alternative routes, old maps, historical references and pointed out inconsistent signposting.
65 kilometres, 40 stops, 8 sections
As we were blessed with clear blue skies during this month-long event, Hong Kong’s waterfront has never looked so good! Over 1,500 photos and stories were submitted, capturing the surprising and constantly changing views along the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail. The most compelling stories and eye-catching photographs have been filtered into 40 stops and published in our app. We also created an illustrated map of the trail with local creative Carmen Ng.
Highlights of the trail include the newly upgraded harbour fronts in Wan Chai and Kennedy Town, views from Dragon’s Back, and the spectacularly tall Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Dam. The most photographed places were the Sai Wan swimming shed in Kennedy Town, the spectacularly steep cliffs at Cape Collinson, the always vibrant Aberdeen promenade, Waterfall Bay and the celestial hole in Wah Fu, a secret sanctuary filled with thousands of shrines and deity figures.
The end goal of the three collaborating NGOs is to make the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail a household name similar to the MacLehose or Wilson Trail. While they continue to work with various government departments to further improve the trail, its signposting and connect the missing links, nothing is stopping you from hiking the trail. It’s best cut down in sections; at a leisurely walking speed, you should be able to walk two or three sections a day. To get you ready for a journey of discovery in your own backyard, we’ve written down all the stops of each of the eight sections below.
…and don’t forget to snap some photos!
STAGE 1: WESTERN HARBOUR WALK | 7.5 KM – 2.5 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★☆☆☆☆
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre ➜ Kennedy Town
Walk all the way from Wanchai to Kennedy Town along the waterfront. This section of the trail is flat and easy to walk, with constantly changing views of Victoria Harbour and a handful of iconic landmarks along the way.
1. Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
The Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail starts at this now-iconic 1988 addition to Hong Kong’s skyline, which resembles a giant bird flying towards the sea (once you see it, you cannot unsee it!).
2. Tamar Park
A popular park with a spectacular view of the fragrant harbour.
3. Central Harbourfront
Home to the city’s largest outdoor event space and a 60-metre-tall observation wheel.
4. Star Ferry Pier
Over a century old, the Star Ferry is one of the city’s many undisputed icons.
5. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Park
A popular hangout spot for morning tai chi, evening strolls and everything in between.
6. Instagram Pier
A famous cargo pier-turned-Insta-hotspot, which was closed for the public in early 2021.
7. Belcher Bay promenade
Kennedy Town’s breezy waterfront playground is one of the few places in Hong Kong where skaters, cyclists, urban knitters and dog walkers are welcomed with open arms.
8. Smallpox Hospital Memorial Park
Lively urban parklet with a dark history; a reminder of the 1930s smallpox outbreak, one of the fiercest epidemics the city has ever seen.
STAGE 2: M.T. DAVIS COASTAL WALK | 3.5 KM – 1.5 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★☆☆☆☆
Kennedy Town ➜ Cyberport
This path less travelled offers a unique perspective of the island’s western side.
9. Sai Wan Swimming Shed
This shaky bamboo swim shed is another Insta-sensation on the list (luckily, the zealous photographers don’t stop the local uncles and aunties from taking their daily dip into the ocean).
10. Old Victoria Detention Centre
An old officer’s mess turned into a world-class academic campus.
11. Sandy Bay
The bay’s big old tree with the swing might just be Hong Kong’s best sunset location…
12. Cyberport Park
This dog-friendly park is of the best picnic spots in the city.
STAGE 3: ABERDEEN HARBOUR WALK | 7.5 KM – 3 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★★☆☆☆
Cyberport ➜ Ocean Park
Here the trail passes by some of the densest public housing on the planet. Hidden behind the tall towers, you’ll find a waterfall and a serene seaside statue garden filled with goddess statues. Welcome to the home of Hong Kong’s water people.
13. Waterfall Bay
This secluded, rocky place—boasting a 15-meter tall natural waterfall!—was a well-known place among pirates sailors to restock their supply of fresh water and is said to have given the city its name.
14. Wah Fu’ Celestials Hole
A slope next to Wah Fu Estate is a secret sanctuary filled with thousands of gods and deity figures, all donated by nearby residents.
15. Aberdeen Fish Market
Occupying a space as big as 1,5 football fields, this is the largest fish wholesale market in the city.
16. Aberdeen Promenade
Amidst hundreds of sampans, you find floating homes, schools, temples, and restaurants here.
STAGE 4: SOUTHERN BEACHES WALK | 8 KM – 3 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★★★☆☆
Ocean Park ➜ Stanley
Meandering along the sunny Southside of the island, this section of the trail offers some of the best beaches and stunning sea views that Hong Kong has to offer.
17. Wong Chuk Hang
This gritty, industrial neighbourhood is slowly turning into a cultural hub, thanks to the arrival of the MTR.
18. Ocean Park
More than roller coaster rides (against a beautiful blue ocean backdrop), Hong Kong’s homegrown amusement park offers a unique perspective on marine life and animal conservation.
19. Mills & Chung Path
This elevated walkway offers gorgeous views over Deep Water Bay.
20. Victoria Recreation Club
The stone clubhouse is a hotspot for paddlers and rowers.
21. Repulse Bay Beach
This sandy stretch holds the laudatory titles of ‘The Best Bay in the world’ and ‘The Eastern Hawaii’
22. Kwun Yam Shrine
Located right next to Repulse bay Beach, this small Taoist shrine is one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples—and also one of its most lavishly decorated.
23. South and Middle Bay Beach
There’s not a building in sight at these sheltered, secluded and shaded beaches.
STAGE 5: TAI TAM NATURE WALK | 12 KM – 4.5 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★★★★☆
Stanley ➜ To Tei Wan Beach
A smooth and gentle walk along the Tai Tam reservoir. This is a surprisingly quiet pocket of Hong Kong Island, offering amazing coastal views, fertile wetlands and century-old waterworks.
A relaxed seaside village with lots of al-fresco dining options along the bustling waterfront promenade.
25. Tai Tam Catchwater
This nice, flat walk wraps around the foot of the famous Twin Peaks.
26. Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Dam
An impressive piece of engineering that brings out the James Bond in you.
STAGE 6: LONG DRAGON’S BACK WALK | 8.5 KM – 3.5 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★★★★★
To Tei Wan Beach ➜ Siu Sai Wan
This is quite arguably one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. You’re in for a steep climb and a real treat: from up the ‘Dragon’s Back,’ the city seems miles away, and the trail offers sweeping views of grassy mountains, the stunning Shek O and ends at popular surf beach Big Wave Bay.
27. To Tei Wan Beach
Only accessible by hiking trail or boat, ‘Deity Beach’ is one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets.
28. Dragon’s Back
Elected as ‘The most beautiful urban hiking trail in Asia’ by TIME Magazine in 2004, this popular hike brings together the best that Hong Kong has to offer: an abundance of green and dramatic views around every corner.
29. Pottinger Peak
Sweeping views of the hills and the city; the view here is pretty hard to beat.
30. Cape Collinson
This auspicious place boasts spectacularly steep cliffs and ancient rock carvings.
STAGE 7: CHAI WAN CITY WALK | 5.5 KM – 2 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★★☆☆☆
Siu Sai Wan ➜ Aldrich Bay
Here, the trail leads back into the urban jungle: an easy-to-walk stretch that passes by Chai Wan and Shau Kei Wan. The area was once a stronghold of the British military intelligence, with barracks and batteries scattered around. There even is a century-old fortress that was used to defend Hong Kong Island East.
31. Siu Sai Wan
A residential pocket where the mountains meet the city.
32. Sai Wan Battery
Old army and navy barracks-turned-holiday village.
33. Shipyards & Coastal Defense Museum
The home of Kwong Ming Shipyards—builder of authentic wooden Chinese sailing junks—and a museum of coastal artillery located in a former coastal defence fort.
STAGE 8: EASTERN HARBOUR WALK | 7 KM – 2 HOURS | DIFFICULTY: ★☆☆☆☆
Aldrich Bay ➜ Wan Chai Ferry Pier
All the way from Aldrich Bay to Wan Chai, you can enjoy exceptional coastal views of Victoria Harbour. Some surprising sites on the way tell the stories of early industrial and recreational history along the shores of North Point and Quarry Bay.
34. Aldrich Bay & Tam Kung Temple
Sitting on the pulse of the dragon, this temple has a superior Feng Shui orientation.
35. Sai Wan Ho Harbour Park
Leading all the way to Quarry Bay, this is one of Hong Kong’s most underrated waterfront locations.
36. Quarry Bay Park
This scenic stretch boasts a bright red, retired fireboat,—Alexander Grantham—a vital vessel in countless rescue operations in Hong Kong waters.
37. North Point Ferry Pier
Distant from the crowd, this vibrant community hangout is a great place for a seaside chit-chat or to throw out a fishing rod.
38. Oil Street Art Space
A gallery with a lovely garden at the back, located in the old clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
39. Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter
Home to sampans, floating temples, yachts and the iconic Jardine noonday gun.
40. New Wanchai Ferry Pier
The last stop of the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail is this revamped pier in its 3rd reincarnation, where thousands of passengers are ferried across to Tsim Sha Shui every day—the top deck is one of the city’s most coveted public spaces.
Want to read all the stories behind these forty highlights?
Download our 100% free iDiscover app! Packed with locally curated walking and cycling itineraries, our app will guide you to hidden gems, popular local hotspots, surprising sites and interesting background stories in the more authentic parts of Hong Kong—and far beyond. To navigate the trail, we recommend you to download the Trailwatch app (it’s also free!).
Prefer to venture the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail with a printed map?
Click here to download this beautiful map by Hong Kong designer Carmen Ng for free!
For more information about the Hong Kong Island Coastal Trail, please visit www.coastaltrail.hk.
Photos by: Abbiot Wong, Candy Ho, Henry Tam, Irene Jackson, Jasmine Zeng, Tina Hui, Pam Birkett, Riela Tsoi, and Silvia Ccuoca