The first time I came across Ninepin group – a series of 29 volcanic islands in the Sai Kung Sea – was when I hiked the High Junk Peak in Hong Kong. We could see the hexagonal columns from afar, and the dramatic formation gave them a certain exotic air. However, as a non-inhabited island, there was no way for us to visit it through public means. In fact, despite naming it a place she wants to visit, my sister hadn’t mentioned any more of it for the year since.
Luckily for her (and me), it seems that a family friend is a keen explorer and knows of a tour that sets off to the elusive Ninepin islands. And so we packed our bags, cameras, and drone, and set off for a day’s adventure!
As mentioned above, none of the Ninepin group are inhabited. The island group is situated east of Clear Water Bay and Tung Lung Chau, and are not inhabited. The biggest islands are the North Ninpine, South Ninepin, and the East Ninepin. The islands are all volcanic in origin, forming several million years ago when Hong Kong was a volcanic zone.
Aside from hexagonal columns, there are many unique formations formed due to erosion on the islands, of which many are given a name. In this post, I want to unveil some of the most spectacular sights on these islands!
North Ninepin Island
The most memorable part of the North Ninepin Island is the huge hexagonal columns that you can walk over right by the pier.
While we didn’t get to see the southern part of the island on the tour, it was amazing to see the Sunken Ship Crack, Hok Tsai Pai (a detached island) and Big Stove Arch on the northernmost point Ngan Peng Tau.
Don’t worry if you don’t get any of the names, it really does do your head in with the phonetic translation.
There I also a lighthouse on the top, if anyone is keen on photographing structures.
South Ninepin Island
While the hexagonal columns aren’t as dramatic, there are some interesting sights on South Ninepin Island.
For example, the smallest Tin Hau Temple in Hong Kong is on top of one of the hills, the South Nai Tau.
Opposite that is the North Nai Tau, which is home to the King Kong head formation and overlooks the T-rex peninsular. Interesting tidbit: the Nai Tau also means boobs…
There is also a stone arch in the middle of the island, where the sea had eroded almost all the way through to the beach!
Further south, there is the Thousand-Inch Wall, a sheer cliff of hexagonal columns that faces the “Y” Cave.
Directly opposite them is the Rock Chambers, which is more like a slit in the rocks!
There are also other structures – such as this dead fish:
East Ninepin Island
Our tour didn’t stop on the East Ninepin island, but we did go around it and I was able to get this time-lapse by standing for 15 minutes:
How to visit the Ninepin Islands?
There is no public transport to visit the Ninepin group, nor is it possible to visit outside of May to September, as the sea condition would be too rough.
The cheapest and safest way is to go with a tour. We went with Yau Sing Tour for 230 HKD per person, however, it is a local tour and only speaks in Chinese. We did encounter another group which speaks English, but I am unsure of the tour company.
Another possible way to visit is to charter a boat, however, it would be expensive to rent out a boat. It’s also worth noting that most boats are too big to dock by the islands.
The tour has organised a smaller boat to ferry all passengers to and from the islands, hence if you don’t have that option, the only other way is to swim.
Pointers for visiting Ninepin Islands
When visiting the Ninepin islands, bear in mind that it would be a completely exposed trip with no refreshment point. There will be a lot of climbing over rocks and vegetation, so dress accordingly. Some of the essentials are:
Enough water – I didn’t bring enough which sent my sis into an annoying rant
Hat and sunscreen, even umbrella
Proper footwear – hiking shoes if you have any
Lunch and snacks
A change of clothes – trust me!
First aid equipment – there are some on the boat, but in case you slip on the island
Hi, my name is Nam. I am 24 and spent half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. I believe there's endless experience and beauty in the world and this is me chronicling how to experience the best at the best price.