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Take a Hike: How to hike to Tai Tau Chau (Urn Island) at Shek O

By Catharina Cheung 2 June 2021

Header image courtesy of @sean_cww (via Instagram)

If you love the plethora of great outdoors that Hong Kong has to offer, then you must have already been to Shek O Beach. It might interest you to know that you’ve actually been just around the corner from Tai Tau Chau all this time! Understandably, the visitor-friendly restaurants and amenities lining the lovely Shek O Beach usually do a bang-up job of halting foot traffic right there, so many may not know about the little islet just a short distance away that makes for a great add-on to a day out. Here is your friendly guide to hiking Tai Tau Chau.

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Overview & fast facts

Tai Tau Chau (大頭洲), also known as Urn Island, is a small islet with trails across it, measuring only about 2.5 kilometres (and that’s including the short walk from Shek O), so this is not really a hiking destination that is worth checking out entirely for its own sake. However, if you’re already going to Shek O for its beach or hiking Dragon’s Back, then detouring to Tai Tau Chau for a couple of hours to go on this gentle walk is a great idea.

This is really more of a walk than a hike, with gentle, gradual elevation and mostly paved paths throughout. Even toddlers will be able to handle Tai Tau Chau with supervision, though it is not stroller-friendly. For those with more of an adventurous streak, Tai Tai Chau is also home to some mid-level coasteering options. If a leisurely stroll with opportunities for some casual rock climbing, scenic sea views, and larking around on a rocky coastline with your family is what you’re looking for, then read on!

Distance: 2.5 kilometres approx.

Difficulty: Beginner

Total ascent: 49 metres approx.

Total time: 2 hours

How to get there

From Shau Kei Wan Station, take bus 9 all the way to the end of its line at Shek O bus terminus. Should you choose to drive, there are also two car parks: one along Shek O Road and the other right at the beach

You can choose to make a quick detour to the shops near the beach to pick up water, snacks, and other such provisions, before looping back out to the roundabout near the minigolf course.

Make your way through the village via Shek O Village Road, following as it leads into Shek O Headland Road. At the very end of this road is the footpath that heads out onto Tai Tai Chau.

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The hike

Tai Tau Chau is connected to Shek O headland via a tombolo that gets submerged by water during high tide. There’s no need to worry about keeping an eye on tide times here, though, because a footbridge has been built across the sandbar below. This bright blue walkway is known as Shek O Lovers Bridge, apparently named because it is only about wide enough for two people to walk side by side. Because of its romantic name and striking appearance against a natural backdrop, however, it has also become popular with wedding shoots.

Directly after crossing the bridge, you’ll arrive at Tai Tau Chau’s rocky shoreline, which is perfect for children to go around splashing in shallow water and looking for small sea creatures caught in small pools during low tide. The main path across the islet is paved and following it is as easy as pie—it simply takes you straight to the far side and back, with a few loops that allow you to look out from the north or south sides, but eventually merges back onto the main path. Our advice if you want to make sure you’ve walked along each bit of the trail—not that there’s going to be much to be missed, mind you—is to keep to the right every time you come to a small split in the path. This will take you along the southern side of the trail, with a few short flights of stairs.

Eventually, you’ll end up at the highest point of the islet, the Tai Tau Chau pavilion. It couldn’t be an easier walk, and very much worth it for the scenic coastal views you’ll have been enjoying along the way. If you haven’t got the safety of little ones to consider, we’d recommend continuing on from the pavilion, where the path will lead downhill until you reach the rocky edge of the islet. From the cliff here, you’ll be treated to endless vistas stretching out to the infinite edge of sky and water up ahead, offering views that go all the way to Tung Lung Chau in the north and Po Toi in the south.

On the return journey, you’ll still mostly be on the same footpath, keeping to a couple of right turns where there are forks in the path. Once back at the Lovers Bridge, simply retrace your steps through the village to get back to Shek O Beach, where you can carry on lounging on the sand or treating yourself to a delicious meal at one of the various establishments along the seafront.

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Catharina Cheung

Former senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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