Back To Nature

Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park

Photo: Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD)

Hong Kong’s lush country parks and eco-tours balance well with its frenetic concrete jungle.

Under the Sea: Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park

Translating to ‘Bay Beneath the Sea’, Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is designated as one of the first Marine Parks in Hong Kong in 1996. Home to 60 types of hard corals and 120 species of coral fish, the marine park is a sheltered bay located north of Sai Kung West Country Park in the northeast section of Hong Kong. Covering about 260 hectares, the bay is bordered with Flat Island (Ngan Chau) and Moon Island (Mo Chau) and is also a good spot for those interested in snorkelling or mangroves. 

Photo: Anthony Sun

DID YOU KNOW?

70% of Hong Kong’s Land consists of farmland and countrysides

40% of the territory is designated for Country and Marine Parks

Hoi Ha Wan is one of the five marine parks in Hong Kong. The other four marine parks include Tung Ping Chau, Sha Chau & Lung Kwu Chau, Yan Chau Tong, The Brothers, and a marine reserve at Cape D’Aguilar. Hoi Ha Wan is the only marine park in Hong Kong with direct road access, and visitor traffic is monitored to prevent uncontrolled tourism putting undue pressure on the fragile marine environment.

FUN FACT

Coral Communities

64 out of 88 stony coral species recorded in Hong Kong can be found in Hoi Ha Wan

Hoi Ha Wan is a well-known Marine Park for its lush coral communities and is one of the best sea areas in Hong Kong for its clear waters and diverse marine life. Coral communities in Hoi Ha Wan is one of the best colonies in Hong Kong — 64 out of 88 stony coral species recorded in Hong Kong can be found here. To put things into perspective, some of the best coral sites in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park recorded over 50 species of stony corals.

Mudskipper

Photo: WWF-Hong Kong

Other Marine Species

Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is home to a rich diversity of marine species — the marine park houses more than 120 species of coral associated species. When the tide is extremely low, it’s not uncommon to find some marine animals such as sea cucumbers, starfish and a variety of anemones trapped in the tidal pools along the shore. You can enjoy a pleasant experience to hop onto a kayak to explore the bay and its surrounding islands. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel in the bay to get acquainted with the marine life. Visitors will be rent kayaks, masks, snorkels and fins from Hoi Ha Village. 

Freshwater Pond

Photo: WWF-Hong Kong

Eco-tours

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department provides free guided eco-tours in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park every Sunday and public holidays. The 1.5-hour tours leave at 10.30am and at 2.15pm. The tour takes visitors around Hoi Ha Village, the public pier (for coral watching), the lime kilns and the mangrove site. Participants should be well prepared with proper shoes as the tour crosses muddy terrain, wet boulders and streams. The tour is limited to 25 participants, on a first come first served basis. Registration is at the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park Warden Post. For more information on Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, log on to www.afcd.gov.hk.

 

Getting There

Arrive at Hoi Ha Village via the Green minibus No. 7 from Sai Kung bus terminal.

Address: Hoi Ha Wan, Sai Kung, New Territories

 

Bubblegum Pink: Dolphin Watching in Lantau

Did you know that wild pink dolphin inhabit the waters just off Lantau Island? Located right next to Hong Kong International Airport, this is perhaps one of the busiest waterways in Hong Kong that sees up to 70 vessels a day on average.

Bubblegum Pink: Dolphin Watching in Lantau

Fun Fact: It is believed that the dolphins’ pink colour is caused by “blushing”, where blood is flushed to the outer layers of the skin for the regulation of body temperature.

The Hong Kong Dolphinwatch was founded in 1995 and set out with goals of raising awareness for the plight of the pink dolphins (sousa chinensis), giving them economic value by helping them contribute to the tourist economy and lastly generate revenue for research and campaigns. Hong Kong Dolphinwatch donates money to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong and to Friends of the Earth (HK) to help with the publication of their Coastal Guide Series. Hong Kong Dolphinwatch has been operating ecological tours to bring travellers on outings to spot dolphins in Hong Kong since 1995.

Dolphins are spotted on 97 per cent of the outings, and on rare occasions, pods of pink dolphins are sometimes spotted with their grey-coloured calves. Vessels are also frequented by some “regular” dolphins who have become accustomed to their presence over the years. Tourists, however, should be extra cautious about some so-called green groups, as well as speed boat operators from local villages as they have no regard for the dolphins’ (and passengers’) safety by cramping passengers on already overloaded boats. The 3 to 4 hours Hong Kong Dolphinwatch tours leave every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and cost HK$460 for adults. For more information, log on to www.hkdolphinwatch.com.

Black Faced Spoonbill

Photo: Lai Nga Yee WWF Hong Kong

Birds of a Feather: Mai Po Marshes

Located in the northwestern corner of Hong Kong, the Mai Po Marshes and Inner Deep Bay are known as a haven for migratory birds for many decades. The Mai Po Nature Reserve has a high diversity of wetland habitats which include shrimp ponds (gei wai), mangroves, intertidal mudflats and reedbeds. WWF HK actively manages the Reserve for environmental education and conservation. It is a popular spot for birdwatchers, eco-tourists and school groups alike. The heart of the reserve is made up of 24 traditionally operated gei wai which provide food for the migratory birds. These gei wai are the last remaining ponds of their kind in Hong Kong. 

Mighty Mangroves

Fun Fact: The area of intertidal mangroves fringing Mai Po and Deep Bay is the sixth largest in China and the reedbed stands are one of the largest in Guangdong Province.

This birdwatcher’s paradise sees thousands of migratory birds making their way to Mai Po in autumn and winter, between October and April. Some 60,000 birds come here for their annual winter migration and these include the globally endangered Saunders’ Gull, Spoonbills, Black Kites, Curlews, Sandpipers and a whole host of feathered creatures.

WWF organises visits to the Mai Po Nature Reserve – The “Exploring Mai Po” tour gives you the opportunity to see some of the 2000 species that forms the unique biodiversity of the reserve. The tour is led by a nature interpreter and brings you on a 2km nature trail that explores the gei wai, boardwalk, natural habitats of local wildlife and the bird watching hides. There are tours conducted on every Saturday, Sunday and on Public Holidays (excluding the first three days of the Lunar New Year). These tours are three hours long and tickets are available at HK$150 for each adult. You’ll have an intimate experience with nature as group sizes are limited to a maximum of 20 participants. For more information on Mai Po Marshes, visit www.wwf.org.hk.

Getting There

Hong Kong is only four hours away by plane and can easily be your next destination to get acquainted with some of the most amazing wildlife mother earth has to offer. You can get on board a direct flight with Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Jetstar which offer daily departures and you’ll find yourselves in Hong Kong in no time.

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