Modern Hong Kong owes its being to the sea that surrounds it; today’s high-density metropolis arose from more humble beginnings as a fishing village. And while the glittery skyscrapers, shopping malls and global flavours undoubtedly enthral, the city’s designated marine parks are fitting reminders of its natural history.
Designed to conserve the unique aquatic environments, Hong Kong’s five marine parks and one marine reserve are each distinct in their geography, geology and ecology; not all, however, are open to the public. Here are four visitor-friendly parks and their must-see attractions.
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,’s lush mangroves and seagrass bed attract an abundance of marine life, as well as visitors who flock to enjoy the area’s geological wonders and picturesque hiking trails.
Originally formed by volcanic eruptions, millions of years of erosion and weathering have created a stunningly diverse coastline that ranges from sandy bays to rocky headlands and peninsulas.
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.
Hong Kong’s largest marine park occupies 1,200 hectares of open water to the west of the New Territories and encompasses the vast Sha Chau sandbar and outlying White Island. Thanks to freshwater run-off from the Pearl River, the nutrient-rich waters create ideal living and breeding conditions for an array of coastal and oceanic croaker fish and shellfish. Its most famous inhabitant, however, is the Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin, aka the Chinese white dolphin, which although rare, can still be spotted in the sea.
While the park is highly protected and water traffic closely controlled, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch runs boat trips every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for those looking to catch a glimpse of the majestic, pastel-pink creatures in their natural habitat.
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