The Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark is an interesting area in the northeast region (including large part of Sai Kung), covering a vast area where you may take in spectacular coastal view, explore rock formation dating back hundreds of millions of years ago, as well as go back time in ancient villages. Some of the sites can be viewed from a boat, others require hiking. As you can see from the map below, Ap Chau and Crooked Island are both on the northeast area accessible by ferry at the weekends.
Ap Chau — The Smallest Inhabited Island in Hong Kong
Measuring only 4 hectares (0.04 square kilometers), Ap Chau (used to be known as Robinson Island) is the smallest inhabited Island in Hong Kong. It is hard to imagine that there were 1,000 residents on the island at its peak. Today, there are 3 recorded residents on the island. Having said that, there was a school which was converted into a story room of Ap Chau, featuring the settlement history and old utensils of the old days. So perhaps there was a big enough population to support the school.
Rare Ochre Breccia and Instagrammable Arch
Ap Chau is so small that it takes about an hour to walk around along the coast. The coastline is filled with red hue ochre breccia which is rare in Hong Kong. The sea arch at the north end of the island is the main attraction. Ap Chau means “Duck Island” in Chinese and the sea arch looks like the “duck’s eye”.
Crooked Island — the “Auspicious Bay”
Locating just 15 minutes away by ferry, Crooked Island is the largest island in North District of Hong Kong with an area of 2.35 km². is an inverted Z shape. Its sinuous coastline forms a great natural shelter for fishing and farming. It is now called “Kat O” in English which means auspicious bay in Chinese. It was home to 4,000 dwellers and fishermen some 70 years ago but many left for overseas in the 1950s. Today, there was a dozen of households on the island but you may still see the villages, small alleyes, some abandoned houses, abandoned school, and the collapsed wooden bridge in the water where the pearl farm used to be.
Great View, History and Local Food
The weekend ferry will first make a stop in Kat O before Ap Chau, then return to Kat O again. So if you want to take a longer hike and explore just Kat O, get off at the first stop. If you have never been to Ap Chau, come back after. There will be enough time for a lunch and take a short walk to some attractions which include a Tin Hau Temple, Kat O Story Room, the lover’s tree, and the short Kat O natural trail which takes about half an hour up and down.
Transportation & Travel Tips
There is a scheduled ferry between Ma Liu Shui (near MTR University Station) and Crooked Island (Kat O) and Ap Chau on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Ma Liu Shui Landing Steps No.3.
One Ferry. Two Islands.
Depart from Ma Liu Shui: 09:00
Arrive at Crooked Island (Kat O) around 10:30. If you want to just visit Kat O, you may get off there.
The same ferry will depart at 10:45 for Ap Chau which is only 15 minutes away. The ferry will go around the sea arch so that you can get a good look at the island.
The ferry will leave Ap Chau to go back to Crooked Island (Kat O) at 12:30. Make sure you don’t miss the only boat.
Arrive at Crooked Island (Kat O) again around 12:45.
Depart from Crooked Island (Kat O) at 15:30. Back to Ma Liu Shui around 17:00.
Direction and Ferry Tickets
Take MTR East Rail to University Station, Exit B, turn left to walk across the bridge, then pass a tunnel to the water side. There is a directional sign in the tunnel to Ma Liu Shui Landing Steps No. 3 which is on the right hand side.
The ticket booth is a makeshift booth right by the landing steps. There are two ferries leaving at the same place and time. One goes to Lai Chi Wo. So please specify your destination.
Round trip tickets: HK$90 (adult/children)
One way ticket: HK$50
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Points to Note
Kat O/Ap Chau is a popular outing destination for families. The only ferry may be packed. Please make sure you arrive at Ma Liu Shui Landing No. 3 pier early to buy tickets. Yes, round trip unless you have plans to stay over on the islands.
You will be receiving China mobile signal there and there is no WIFI. So make sure you have enough battery/powerbank for the day trip. Phone calls may be expensive because you may be using China roaming.
Crooked Island is a pretty big. There are some peaks where you can go hiking but do not attempt without an experienced guide because there is no clear sign and hiking path. Last, DO NOT miss the boat!