Stroll around Lantau for grand sea views

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 August, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 August, 1993, 12:00am

SHEK Pik Reservoir is the starting point for one of Hong Kong's grandest sea-gazing strolls, passing Lantau Island's Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay). Experienced hikers who start off early can hike onward to the isolated south-western tip of Lantau, and trek northwards to Tai O.

Beachgoers who only want to reach Big Wave Bay will have time to take a closer look at Shek Pik Reservoir. Beneath it lies the site of a Bronze Age settlement, excavated in 1937. Still visible near the base of the dam are prehistoric, possibly Bronze Age, rock carvings of concentric squares and circles.

It is a tough scramble to find them, and other carvings on a boulder above the reservoir are even less accessible. Nevertheless, try to visualise what the scene was like thousands of years ago, when Neolithic and Bronze Age communities of nomad fisherfolk settled here.

Try also to imagine what Shek Pik looked like only a few decades ago, before the dam was built and seawater was drained out of the large inlet. Its small and ancient fishing village was submerged by fresh water, and a prison was built on the man-made beach at the foot of the dam.

That beach is out of bounds, of course.

To reach Big Wave Bay beach, turn left on to the surfaced waterworks road that leads into Lantau South Country Park at the dam's western end. Hikers heading along the Lantau Trail follow signposts for Kau Ling Chung on the hill-hugging catchwater road.

The ocean views, across to the Soko Islands, are sensational. A gentle stroll to Tai Long Wan takes less than an hour each way from the reservoir bus stop.

Bear left off the Lantau Trail roadway, onto Wang Pui Road. Wending downhill through pine-clad slopes, it ends at the village of Tai Long Wan Tsuen, a small hillside community of farm cottages and modern village houses.

Beachgoers follow rural paths that meander down to the magnificent sandy beach of Tai Long Wan. Behind it, isolated farm buildings and a small village temple highlight the mood of rural isolation. Take great care if swimming at the beach, especially if it lives up to its name as a Big Wave Bay.

Campers can overnight nearby, at the official camp site above a small cove to the west of Tai Long Wan. It is reached via a scenically splendid boulder-paved pathway that descends dizzyingly off the Lantau Trail, revealing campsites carved into the mountainous cliffside, on the fringe of a ravine.

It is a beautiful spot in good weather. Campers collect driftwood from the beach and fresh water from the hillside pipe; they must bring everything else. In this part of Lantau, well away from the new airport site, the ancient wild beauty of Hong Kong survives.

Shek Pik-Tai Long Wan Public transport Bus from Silvermine Bay to Shek Pik terminus; buses for Ngong Ping and Tai O also stop there.

Refreshments Packaged snacks and soft drinks in Tai Long Wan Tsuen; take own beach picnic supplies.

Reference Countryside Series map-sheet for Lantau Island.

Note Take great care at this non-gazetted beach; do not swim out of your depth or alone. If unsure about the tide or currents, do not swim.