Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong. Photo: flickr.com
Shenzhen may be an economic miracle, but its natural beauty leaves a lot to be desired. In terms of beaches you have almost no choices at all, with either the overcrowded and plain dirty Dameisha, or the remote difficult-to-get-to Xiaomeisha being your only options. Luckily however, the fact that Hong Kong and all its wonderful outlying islands are but a mere border crossing away makes everything a lot easier. Just across the Shenzhen river, hidden away on the outskirts of Hong Kong's outlying territories is one of the best beaches in the world.
Big Wave Bay, or Tai Long Wan in the native Cantonese, is arguably the most beautiful place in the whole of South China. Huge sandy beaches cut swathes between tall mountains and cliffs encased in the most impenetrable jungle growth rising up all around you. Big Wave Bay is, as the name suggests, a surfer's paradise and both a hiker's and camper's dream. It lies to the east of Hong Kong's outlying territories, but is not so remote as to be inaccessible. In fact, with the straight-shot MacLehose Trail cutting through the surrounding hillsides, the trip to Big Wave Bay is a decent trek for even the most novice of hikers.
Total travelling time to Big Wave Bay from Shenzhen is usually between four and five hours, so to make the most of the beach sun you will want to leave at around 8.30 or 9am if you are crossing the border. Best place to start is either at the Luohu (罗湖) or Futian Kou An (福田口岸) metro stop. These are at the end of the green Luobao line and end of the red Longhua line respectively, and the metro stations are linked directly with the immigration buildings. It is a simple matter of following the signs.
Next, get on the Hong Kong metro and travel to Diamond Hill station and head downstairs to the underground bus station. Here you can catch either the 91, KMB94 or the 96R bus to Sai Kung. The busses are fairly regular (once every 15 mins), cost about 10 HKD and should have you there within the hour. Once at Sai Kung, check the notice board times at the small bus station you are deposited at for busses to Pak Tam Au which is where the trail starts. If you have time you should go look around the coastal fishing village of Sai Kung itself. There are plenty of great restaurants and a cool little expat community to explore, but in truth, most see Sai Kung as a place to stock up on last minute supplies.
The bus (which you will most likely share with other similarly dressed hikers) takes about twenty minutes to climb the hill to Pak Tam Au and from here it is simple; just keep walking. Follow the signs for Tai Long Wan (大浪灣) and you will be given the most amazing journey through the hills of Hong Kong. The hike is not technically difficult, as the whole route is paved concrete, but there are some seriously steep hills – both up and down – and most people take around two hours to finish. The path meanders and winds, taking you straight through some hills and skirting the edge of others, through abandoned villages and old derelict fishing jetties until finally – after the most gruelling of descents – you come out onto a beach.
There are few restaurants here and a few places to rent surfboards. Unfortunately, this beach is not actually Big Wave Bay. To get to the final part of the journey you have to clamber over a large outcrop strung out with rope lines, but once you are over the view is breathtaking. The beach stretches out for almost half a mile, and is usually all but deserted. Once you're here, set up shop, relax and enjoy the view. Most hikers tend to rent tents (or usually bring them; they cost around 200 RMB from Walmart) and stay over the whole night, waking to the most pristine sunrise-drenched beach imaginable.
All in all, it's a hard journey but one that is absolutely worth it. Bear in mind you'll need a multiple-entry visa (or a new one that you can get in HK) to get back into China. Enjoy!
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Keywords: Getting to Big Wave Bay Shenzhen Big Wave Bay Hong Kong beach escapes Shenzhen
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