It’s maybe one of my favourite islands here in Hong Kong. But it was also a challenging one for me. For sure, the memories will stay for a long time. We visited North and South Ninepin Island in Sai Kung in Summer of 2021.
The islands are well-known for their hexagonal columns of volcanic rock resulting from a volcanic eruption near Sai Kung about 140 million years ago. The islands are highly eroded due to the strong tides that wash against them daily. Moreover, there is just one building on these islands: the Tin Hau temple, located on South Ninepin Island for fishermen who landed on the island.
How to get there?
No one lives on Ninepin Group, so you will also not find any transportation. You have to rent a boat to reach the islands. The cheapest and maybe also the safest way to go to the island is with a tour. We got ours at the Sai Kung Public Pier. The price was HKD 260 per person. Be aware that you have to pre-book these tours, and usually, you will start at 8 AM in Sai Kung — and return around 5 PM.
The island group is located east of Clear Water Bay and Tung Lung Chau. The biggest islands of the group are the North Ninepin, South Ninepin, and East Ninepin. In total, the Ninepin Group (Chinese: 九針群島) or Kwo Chau Islands (果洲群島) include 29 islands. We visited North- & South Ninepin.
As mentioned, our tour guide operated from the Sai Kung Public Pier. We got a speedboat for 18 people. If you like to ask our guide for more details, you can reach Wiwit by WhatsApp (+852 9218 4832).
From the summit to the lighthouse
Most groups start at the pier on North Ninepin Island. Our tour guide Wiwit decided to bring us first to the bigger part of the northern island. So, we first climbed to the island’s summit and fought through thorny bushes and rocks before searching a path down to the cliffs.
We arrived at the cliff to cross the sea to reach the pier and the famous huge hexagonal columns. If the tides are low, then you may just walk over, which is then pretty easy. But if the tides are high, like in our case, you have to swim to the pier or climb the steep wall. Be aware: the climb is not for beginners. It’s steep, and there are no ropes.
We visited the lighthouse once we reached the smaller part of the northern island. After lunch, we got picked up by the speed boat and moved to South Ninepin Island.
Beach & hikes at South Ninepin Island
Please do not expect a sandy beach on the southern island. The beach is beautiful, but big stones and sharp rocks also cover it. Bring some waterproof shoes!
On South Ninepin, you can hike as well. However, we didn’t explore a lot. It was simply too hot. But still, it’s the right decision to go to the island during summer. Visiting the islands with a tour outside of May to September is impossible, as the sea condition would be too rough. The weather needs to be stable, as not everywhere piers are available.
What have you to know?
- Please bring some food and water (!). There are almost no trees, just some palms. And you will be exposed to the sun the whole day! Bring also some sun protection. We brought a lot, and it was still too little.
- Bring some clothes to change: If you like to go to the summit, covered legs may help avoid scratches from the thorny bushes. Later, you may enjoy swimming on the southern island.
- Bring some shoes for the beach, for exploring the beaches. The rocks are sharp. Trust me.