I used to be quite ignorant of Hong Kong geography, particularly in relation to some of the islands scattered in the waters around the territory.
So when a friend mentioned something about Ung Kong Islands (罋缸群島) a few years ago, I thought he was talking about a tourist destination in mainland China.
Well, it was quite embarrassing when he informed me that the islands were not in China, but right here in waters off the New Territories.
I finally made a trip to the area and tried to learn more about the place.
The Ung Kong Islands, located in the southeast of Sai Kung, is composed of four major islands — Wang Chau, Basalt Island, Bluff Island and Town Island — as well as many other small islets.
Wang Chau is the smallest amongst the four key islands. Its most notable landmark is the Wang Chau Kok Cave (橫洲角洞) in the eastern part of the island.
Dubbed as one of the famous “Four Sea Arches”, the sea cave is spacious enough for a small boat to go through when the sea is calm.
If you are an adventurer like me, you wouldn’t let go of the opportunity to swim through it. It doesn’t take much effort. As long as you keep yourself floating in the waters, the tides going up and down in the passageway will push you through.
I can still recall how thrilling it was, especially being able to visit the place which you would normally read about only in geography textbooks.
Next to Wang Chau Kok Cave is the “Candle Cave”. As the name suggests, it is 30 or 40 meters tall but only three meters wide. At its narrowest center, it is only around one meter in width. When you look back at the entrance from that point, the scene invokes image of a candle and thus the name.
Extra care is required as big waves can easily push swimmers against the sides of the jagged rock cave.
From/To: Hire a private boat to Basalt Island at Sai Kung pier. Experienced persons can do activities such as trekking, rock-climbing and swimming along the coastline of the island, but only under the guidance of professional coaches.
Tips: Set off on a fine day when the weather is stable. There is a stone-paved cliff path 300 meters away in the northwest of the Wang Chau Kok Cave. It leads to a gentle grassy slope of the island, from which hikers can enjoy a magnificent view of the inland sea of the Ung Kong Islands.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 12, 2015.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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