Discover the hidden Ninepin Islands…
There’s nothing more invigorating than getting off HK Island, away from the at times ridiculously claustrophobic city and spending some quality time exploring the remote wilderness. Well, you can’t get more remote than the Ninepin Islands in Hong Kong, and Countryside Adventure Tours is the go-to company for English guided tours of the great outdoors, Hong Kong’s ONLY company offering regular tours in English, in fact.
When Countryside Adventure Tours asked Sassy if we wanted to jump aboard the Boat Tour to the Ninepin Islands Tour for some outdoor adventures, we just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to check out some of HK’s most unexplored parts.
The Ninepin Islands is a group of rocky outcrops at the edge of the South China Sea. Battered by relentless waves and winds, fascinating landforms have formed. We met our tour guide, outdoor enthusiast and Dutch national Wouter van Marle, on one of the wharves at Sai Kung before jumping aboard a 15 seater speed boat which sped us off and away onto our adventures. I must say, I was a little worried that an hour spent on a rocky boat with 14 strangers could end awkwardly since I am unfortunately a little prone to seasickness, but I was impressed with the sturdiness of the boat and the smooth journey out to the islands! We zoomed past Sharp Island and Hap Mum Bay Beach and headed straight for a pretty impressive geological arch formation, visible only from the ocean as one boats out to sea. Our guide gave us a brief explanation of how this incredible example of natural architecture came to be, and BANG we were off again!
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Around 25 minutes later we found ourselves at the remarkably remote island of North Ninepin, where we spent an hour scrambling over alien-like boulders and marveling at the hexagonal rock columns that lie scattered over the island. Some of them had diameters of over two meters! Due to their exposure to the ocean, only for three months of the year during the height of summer are the seas quiet enough to allow boats to land safely here, making the island a highly seasonal destination (in other words, go check them out while you can!).
Next stop: South Ninepin. Regardless of the rain that had begun to fall, we continued on our adventure. And thank goodness because the views from the cliffs on this island were insanely breathtaking! Spectacular, burnt red patterns across the cliffs delineated thousands of years’ worth of geological events and, though not for the feint–hearted (one Dad on tour nearly lost it when his kids crawled precariously close to the edge), a peek over the edge is well worth it for one heart-stopping moment. We hiked up to the top of another mountain on South Ninepin where we marveled at an incredibly well kept (considering the remote location) sacrificial temple – and possibly one of Hong Kong’s highest! The tour ended on a beautiful deserted beach, where we were encouraged to scale a pretty bad-ass rock wall in order to return to the comfort of our little speedboat.
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While not exactly a walk in the park, this particular tour wasn’t so challenging that people of all ages and fitness levels couldn’t enjoy it. Admittedly, there were some very red faces by the end of it, and more than a few found themselves snoring on the return boat journey home, but it only added to the adventure of the day. “I like to push people out of their comfort zones,” Wouter admitted. “Sometimes this means taking people off the beaten track and challenging them more than they imagined they would have been on a guided tour.”
Yes, we sweated. Yes, we climbed over slippery boulders with nothing but sharp, jagged rocks separating us from the ocean below. Yes, it was totally worth it. No, I would probably not bring my children along for safety’s sake. Yes, I would 100% do it again.
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All the details:
When: This tour is seasonal, so be sure to check the current tour schedule here to see if this tour is currently available!
How much: $390 per person for this particular tour (children same rate)