Ever Walked On A Dragon’s Back?  The Path To Big Wave Bay Beach, Hong Kong

June 28, 2016

If you plan on spending any time in Hong Kong, know that the “Pearl Of The Orient” is often found to be on the humid, or muggy side weather-wise, with temperatures high enough to have beads of sweat forming on your forehead.  As such, you might be strolling around, pounding the pavement with buildings on all sides, and suddenly it occurs to you…”Where’s the beach?!”

With that in mind, you might want to take a little day trip to get away from all of the urban life of the city, and venture towards the D’Aguilar Peninsula, which has a lot of green.  This little getaway from the hustle and bustle, could involve a short hike through the hills, and perhaps a visit to a spot, which is considered to be one of the loveliest beaches in the area – Big Wave Bay, aka Tai Long Wan. 

tai long wan big wave bay beach

With so much commerce going on in Hong Kong, many travellers find the urge to visit this sandy destination as a way to experience some of the natural beauty of Hong Kong, and commune with the sea, as opposed to spending all of their time in the city shopping at malls.  Who wants to do that, anyway?

If you are a fan of hiking, then perhaps you’ve heard of the Dragon’s Back Trail, which you will most definitely encounter, if you are heading for the beach.  In fact, one popular way to reach the beach is via the trail, so in this way you can combine the trail hiking with the beach fun, to make a day of it.

dragon's back hong kong

The nice thing about the Dragon’s Back Trail is, that while it does have the fearsome moniker, it is a beautiful trail with some outstanding vantage points to look down from above, and see the lovely beach areas, including Shek O, Tai Tam, and Stanley in the distance. 

D’Aguilar Peninsula hong kong

Indeed, you will see many great views, as you travel along the snaking paths of the Dragon’s Back, finding yourself suddenly confronted by unexpected vistas and trickling waterfalls.  If you have a good camera on your phone, or a proper camera for pictures, you’ll be wanting to take it along, as these are sights worth remembering.

Dragon’s Back Trail is known also for its paragliding excursions, so you might spot someone overhead flying by, while you are making your way along the trail, when you are more exposed to the sky. 

The paragliding trips over Dragon’s Back are definitely a highlight for any traveler or sight-seeing enthusiast, who doesn’t have a particular fear of heights. 

The entirety of Dragon’s Back is said to be 8.5 kilometers in length, or 5.3 miles.  It is listed as a “moderately difficult” trail, so that hikers don’t get the idea that this trail is a complete cakewalk.  Of course, this “moderate difficulty” doesn’t stop hikers and adventurers of all stripes from enjoying the trail, and you will probably see some of these fellow travellers along the way.

dragons back trail

With Big Wave Beach and Shek O’s beach just nearby, the Dragon’s Back trail makes for an excellent place to spend the day hiking, with the added motivation that soon enough, you’ll be cooling off at the beach!

Here’s a closer look at what some of the trails on Dragon’s Back look like, while you are on it.

As you can see from the above video, depending on your fitness level, some parts of the trail will be a bit of a challenge.  Some areas have steep inclines, stone-tiered steps, and you may want to watch your footing, in places where rocks are loose. 

That said, this trail by no means treacherous, and it is well marked, and has toilets so it is what you could definitely call “civilized”.  Because the overall size of the trail is not huge, you have no real danger of getting lost, or going too far out, and not being able to return to civilization. 

Still, this trail may not be for everyone.  For instance, if you have kids who don’t like these kinds of trips, they may not have the energy (or the will) to make it the entire way, so keep this in mind.   Also keep in mind that as you get towards the beach, you will come across shaded areas and pavilions, where you can sit down and have a bite to eat.  You can also eat on the trail, as there are no strict rules opposing “lunch”. 

dragons back hong kong trail

As you get ever closer to the sounds and smells of the sea side, Dragon’s Back briefly crosses Pottinger Peak Country Trail before the final “leg” of the journey, which will take you to the beach.

We may have neglected to mention that this is a conservation area, and so the ecology is one of the highlights, in addition to the trail itself.  If you are a plant admirer, you may well see things like the rare Blue Japanese Oak here and there, as well as Gordonia plants, and Rose Myrtle.  In terms of critters, you will probably spot things like shrews or ferrets darting about in the brush, while the sounds of swifts, swallows, and thrushes can be heard calling out above.

When you finally do emerge from the trail, you will arrive at Tai Long Wan, and from there you can make your way down to Big Wave Bay Beach by following the many signs pointing the way.  This is a lovely seaside spot, with places to eat, historic carvings, and then, of course, the “big waves”.  If you are a fan of moderately sized sea-side towns, with people simply taking it all in, you will love Big Wave Bay. 

Take a look at this video, showing what a trip to Big Wave Bay Beach can be like.  Namely, sand, surf, and mainly relaxing!

Ah yes, as you can see from the above video, Big Wave Bay isn’t really kidding when it comes to offering big waves, which makes it a very popular spot for surfers.  It is known as perhaps the best surf spot in Hong Kong.  The waves can get pretty hairy, so when you arrive at the beach, just be prepared for rough waters, depending on the day.  That said, the swimmers do outnumber the surfers, and swimming there is quite refreshing.

surfing big wave bay beach hong kong

No doubt about it, Big Wave Bay is a beautiful spot, feeling very private and almost secret, as it is bookended by cliffs on either side, and the beach itself isn’t extremely long.

That said, we must caution you that although this beach can appear very cute, some of the waters in this area have some of the highest rates of drowning on the island.  We mention this because, well, obviously you should know this, although it has been denied, due to the fact that it might cut back on tourism. 

Not to spoil the party here, but due to some of the big waves, a strong current, and essentially a lack of preparedness on the part of some swimmers, there have been some accidents at beaches like Big Wave Bay.  So, just be careful not to go out too far, and make sure if you do, you really know how to swim.

Big Wave Bay has been a tourist destination of some renown for a long time now, and obviously its natural beauty and frisky waters offer some excitement to surfers, and other beach-goers.  Here is a video showing what this beach looked like back in the 1950’s.

Surfing is definitely a big attraction here, and you will probably see a surfer or ten if you do visit this beach.  There are definitely much crazier surf spots than this, but the water here at Big Wave Beach is surf-ready, so if you are a surfer who is visiting the Hong Kong area, be sure to check this place out!

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