Ninepin Island: the hidden hexagonal column paradise of Hong Kong

Before we get excited over shots like this, let's see what you should be aware of!!

 

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!

Contents

Ninepin Island background

horzintalme back near rock chamber south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel EatAs 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.

western view of of south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The general rocky landscape

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

view from ferry of north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
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.

birds eye view hexagonal columns and boat north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The essential birds eye view photo

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.

better big stove arch cove north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The dramatic Sunken Ship Crack!
wing view of hok tsai pai ngan peng tau north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
la sis with the Hok Tsai Pai island of hexagonal islands behind her!

Don’t worry if you don’t get any of the names, it really does do your head in with the phonetic translation.lighthouse and view of hok tsai pai north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat

There I also a lighthouse on the top, if anyone is keen on photographing structures.

 

South Ninepin Island

first glimpse of south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
First glimpse of the island – we got on at the left! It wasn’t the safest place for sure

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.

smallest tin hau temple south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The smallest Tin Hau Temple in HK!
king kong head north nai tang south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The King Kong head! The bottom part is the jaw

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…

view of northern part of south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
They say it looks like a T-rex turning – but perhaps I didn’t get the angle quite right?
view of beach at south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The – erm – north and south Nai Tau

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!

me at stone arch south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
It seems I’m quite fond of getting photos of me on this trip than normal…

Further south, there is the Thousand-Inch Wall, a sheer cliff of hexagonal columns that faces the “Y” Cave.

me back thousand inch wall south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The thousand-inch wall in front!
The Y cave south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
And the Y caves viewed from the tiop of the Thousand-inch Wall

Directly opposite them is the Rock Chambers, which is more like a slit in the rocks!

rock chamber south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The rock chamber = silt in the rock!

There are also other structures – such as this dead fish:

dead fish rock south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
It’s a rock! hehe did I get you?

 

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?

getting on tst ferry to north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The tour started at Tsim Sha Tsui pier

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.

going down to big stove arch at ngan peng tau north ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
But this is the level of crowd with a tour

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.

a boat trip at south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
We saw people on chartered boats!

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.

smaller boat for transport to ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel Eat
The only way you can dock and land

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

getting on ferry near rock chamber south ninepin island sai kung hong kong - Laugh Travel EatWhen 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
  • Sunglasses
  • A change of clothes – trust me!
  • First aid equipment – there are some on the boat, but in case you slip on the island

 

Ninepins group are a series of 29 islands in the South China Sea in Sai Kung. It might be secluded, but here's why you have to visit:
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Ninepins group are a series of 29 islands in the South China Sea in Sai Kung. It might be secluded, but here's why you have to visit:
Pin me!

Written by Nam Cheah

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.

2 Comments

  1. I must say, this is the first I’ve ever seen about Ninepin Island. I’m planning a trip and will be in Shenzhen (right next to Hong Kong) and didn’t even know about this place. And you made it totally drool-worthy! Like I need anything else on my bucket list, this place looks amazing and totally unique and bucket-list worthy. Your photos are great too!

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