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From marine parks to Hong Kong Geopark

  • With contribution from LUXE City Guides
Marine parks to geoparks: a taste of hong kong's ego-diversity

Image by Tugo Cheng

Compact as it is, Hong Kong is home to an unbelievably diverse ecosystem. From the seas to the swamps, from the plants to the animals, visit these easily accessible parks and get to know our neighbours. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for tucked-away sights along the way! 

Ho Hai Wan Marine Park

Coral life: Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park

Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info is a protected area that contains 60 types of hard coral and 120 species of coral fish. It’s also a particularly good spot for those interested in snorkelling or mangroves. And if you’re a seasoned diver, you can make the place even more amazing by helping with underwater clean-ups, while non-divers and landlubbers can take part in beach clean-up activities, or visit the small temple and four distinctive lime kilns in the rustic Hoi Ha village.

If the day is clear and the tide is low, you should be able to see coral heads poking through the water. These are brain corals, named (unpoetically) after their round shapes and convoluted surface patterns. You should also be able to see various colourful fish swimming through the coral, but you might wish to take a closer look by renting snorkelling gear from Wan Hoi Store in Hoi Ha village. Alternatively, paddle your way around the mangrove-laden waters in a kayak. Be careful with the coral though — it’s protected. Read these coral area diving and snorkelling guidelines first.

The Yan Chau Tong Marine Park boasts a diverse coastline

Natural wonders: Yan Chau Tong Marine Park

Backdropped by cascading hills and protected from the ocean on four sides, this tranquil harbour known for its temperate microclimate and calm seas is fittingly called Double Haven. Situated on the northeast coast of Plover Cove Country Park, Yan Chau Tong Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info ’s lush mangroves and seagrass bed attract an abundance of marine life, as well as visitors who flock to the area for its geological wonders and picturesque hiking trails.

The coastline was originally formed by volcanic eruptions, yet millions of years of erosion and weathering have created a stunningly diverse landscape with sandy bays, rocky headlands, peninsulas and more. 

Tung Ping Chau Marine Park is a geological haven with 60-million-year-old rock formations

A geological haven: Tung Ping Chau Marine Park

Closer to Shenzhen than it is to Hong Kong, the remote island of Tung Ping Chau is unique for its striking sedimentary rock formations and a coral community that rivals that of Hoi Ha Wan. Although the 1.5-hour ferry journey to get there might seem a bit of a schlep, those willing to hop aboard will be rewarded with a 270-hectare ecological refuge like nowhere else in Hong Kong.

A UNESCO Global Geopark, Tung Ping Chau’s 60-million-year-old multi-layered rock formations are easily accessed via the island’s five-kilometre-long coastal path, which also meanders past the abandoned Shau Tau Village and century-old Tin Hau Temple.

Once home to 2,000 people, the island is now only populated at weekends, with a couple of family-run restaurants keeping visitors replenished with drinks and flip-fresh catches of the day. There’s even a rustic guesthouse should you wish to stay overnight. Intrepid snorkellers (you’ll need to take your own equipment) can also swim amid the stony coral home to more than 130 fish and 200 species of marine invertebrates, as well as over 65 species of marine algae. Dive on in!

The Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark showcases unique rocky landforms.

Rock ’n stroll: Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

You don’t have to be a rock buff to enjoy the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark . Located in the East and Northeast New Territories, the park includes the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region and showcases Hong Kong’s timeless and eerily beautiful landforms.

Don’t miss the Hong Kong UNESCO Geopark Volcano Discovery Centre. Conveniently located at the Sai Kung Waterfront Park, it offers comprehensive information on how to best explore the Geopark. Visitors can take a peek at rock specimens collected locally and from around the world, as well as a 1:1 scale exhibit of hexagonal rock columns produced by a series of violent volcanic eruptions in Sai Kung 140 million years ago.

Did you know?
Did you know?

Hong Kong Geopark became a member of the Global Geoparks Network in 2011 and renamed Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark in 2015.

Wildlife: Hong Kong Wetland Park

Wildlife oasis: Hong Kong Wetland Park

Hong Kong Wetland Park is home to an impressive cast of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, reptiles and fish. Inside, the Wetland Interactive World features themed galleries, cinema and 3D trick art, a theatre and the Swamp Adventure indoor play area. The 60-hectare outdoor Wetland Reserve houses recreated wetland habitats specially designed for waterfowl and other wildlife which will enhance your understanding of this ecosystem.

Head to the beautifully landscaped 72 sqm outdoor enclosure for a chance to spot Pui Pui up close: first sighted at Shan Pui River in the northwest New Territories in November 2003, the then juvenile saltwater crocodile is suspected to have been an illegal pet dumped into the river. She was caught by AFCD staff after seven months and named ‘Pui Pui’, which means ‘the precious one’ and echoes the name of the river where she was found.

Flora and fauna: Kadoorie Farm & Botanical Garden

Flora and fauna: Kadoorie Farm & Botanical Garden

Originally established by the wealthy Kadoorie brothers to provide some aid to poor local farmers, the  Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info  offers outdoor activities that appeal to the whole family. The conservation centre’s paths take you through vegetable gardens, greenhouses of beautiful flowers and plants, and scores of different animals. But it’s more than just a pretty face; the farm has also pioneered organic growth methods in Hong Kong, and helped introduce local strains of pigs and chickens, which you can see there.

Visit small pools housing waterfowl, including flamingos. If you’re keen for some sweeping views of the countryside, head to the top near the Kadoorie Brothers’ Memorial Pavilion. If you are lucky, you just might see porcupines, pangolin or barking deer, although the best time to see them is at dusk as they’re mostly nocturnal.

A paradise for migratory: Mai Po Nature Reserve

A paradise for migratory birds: Mai Po Nature Reserve

Every winter, around 90,000 migratory birds take refuge in the marshes and mudflats of the internationally acclaimed Mai Po Nature Reserve Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info , a vital stopover point for waterbirds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Of the 400 species of birds that inhabit the reserve, 35 are of global conservation concern, including the Saunders’s gull and the black-faced spoonbill. Other critters such as otters, fiddler crabs and mudskippers also call the area home. 

The peak time for birdwatching is from autumn through to spring the following year, when birds come to forage in the vicinity of Mai Po and the Inner Deep Bay wetlands, feeding on fish, shrimps and crabs among the mangroves. Keen birders should also keep an eye out for the 400 species of insects, 80 species of marine invertebrate and 100 species of butterflies that can also be found here!

The Mai Po Nature Reserve is listed in the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance of Hong Kong, so access to the area is restricted. Visitors can join a selection of organised tours that run throughout the year. Please visit World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong’s website for more information.


Can’t get enough of our city’s fascinating nature? These 10 island-hopping destinations in Hong Kong are not to be missed.

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Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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