The Sea Ranch Hike: One of the Coolest Abandoned Sites in Hong Kong

Contents

Essential Sea Ranch Hike Details

  • District: Lantau
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Distance: 9-10km one way
  • Highest Elevation: 70ish meters
  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Facilities: None. So, use the toilet and stock up on water and food beforehand.

Highlights of Hiking to Sea Ranch

The Sea Ranch and its abandoned clubhouse is the stuff of Hong Kong folklore and legend. While there is plenty of speculation about the mysterious property and its history, this hike will put them all to rest. Suitable even for beginner hikers, all you need is a thirst for adventure and enough food and water to last you the day.

Some of the highlights of this hike include starting right next to a disused prison with a curious history, a village full of water buffalo, a gorgeous beachside temple, stunning coastal views, a secluded beach and then a quick descent to The Sea Ranch – the main highlight of the trip.

If you visit The Sea Ranch, make sure not to trespass into people’s property and be respectful. Do not make excessive noise, do not steal any belongings from properties in the middle of being refurbished and do not take anything from the old clubhouse.

Google Route Map

How to Get to The Sea Ranch

By Boat:

*You are not guaranteed to reach The Sea Ranch by boat.

Most people take a ferry from Central Pier 5 to Cheung Chau (ferry timetable) and then attempt to take The Sea Ranch’s private ferry from Cheung Chau pier. Unless you’re a resident or guest of The Sea Ranch, you will not be permitted to disembark at The Sea Ranch (or even board at the ferry pier) if you take the property’s private ferry.

You can try hiring a private sampan from Cheung Chau pier by calling any of the following three numbers: 90565095, 92190065 or 91038358. It’s unlikely that the private sampan operators will speak English, so it’s probably best to make this journey with someone who speaks Cantonese or Mandarin. Alternatively, ask someone at the pier to help you.

Check with the Sampan owners if you’ll be permitted to alight at The Sea Ranch or not. If you have to alight at a nearby beach, you’ll likely have to wade knee-deep or waist-deep in water. Dress and protect your valuables accordingly.

Chinese address:

The Sea Ranch’s Private Pier: 澄碧邨碼頭

Yi Long Wan (The Sea Ranch’s private beach): 二浪灣海灘

By Hike:

*You can definitely reach The Sea Ranch by hiking there.

The most enjoyable route to The Sea Ranch (in my opinion) is to hike there. There are two ways to hike to The Sea Ranch:

Option 1 (longer): Take a ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo (ferry timetable) and then get the ferry to Chi Ma Wan from Mui Wo Pier (ferry timetable). From Chi Ma Wan, follow the hiking route below:

Option 2 (shorter): Take a ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo (ferry timetable) ferry pier. Next, get the 3M bus (bus schedule) to Pui O from the bus depot right in front of the ferry pier. Get off at Lo Uk Tsuen and head toward the Tin Hau Temple by staying on Chi Ma Wan Road. From Tin Hau Temple, you can hike to The Sea Ranch by following the route below:

If you do end up visiting The Sea Ranch, never trespass into people’s private property, don’t take or steal anything and do not disturb any of the residents.

Chi Ma Wan to The Sea Ranch Hiking Route Summary

*If you took hiking option 2, ignore step one and follow this guide from step 2

  1. Follow Chi Ma Wan Road for 2.5km past the abandoned prison and past Shap Long Village and the yellow Pui O sign until you reach Tin Hau Temple near Pui O
  2. Take a left at the beach near Tin Hau Temple and walk along the coast (do not follow Chi Ma Wan Road after the Tin Hau Temple)
  3. Begin an uphill section after following the Mong Tung Wan sign
  4. Walk across Mong Tung Wan beach and begin ascending at the concrete path
  5. Follow the sign toward Tai Long
  6. Follow the next two signs that say Tai Long Via Yi Long (The Sea Ranch's Beach)
  7. Go down the dirt stairs and follow the sign to Tai Long
  8. Walk along Yi Long Beach and head to The Sea Ranch
  9. Hire a sampan from The Sea Ranch’s pier to Cheung Chau. See ‘The Way Back’ blog section for details.

Detailed Route

While most people will opt to hike this route for the creepy abandoned clubhouse at The Sea Ranch, there’s a bonus historical abandoned site right at the start of the hike!

Follow Chi Ma Wan Road as it ascends past the abandoned prison. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the prison grounds and buildings. You’ll also be able to walk up to the prison’s visitor center with security bars still attached.

A Brief History of the Chi Sun Correctional Institution

The Chi Ma Wan Correctional Institution was initially a site picked out by Hong Kong’s colonial government to house Russian refugees who sought to leave cities like Shanghai after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

At first, only a small number of Russians were permitted to leave as they required strict visas that confirmed they could resettle in foreign countries. Many of those Russians sought out refuge in Hong Kong before resettling in other nations like Australia, Brazil and Canada

By 1956, restrictions for Russians leaving the PRC lessened and the trickle of Russians entering Hong Kong grew into a torrent. The Hong Kong government actually hand-picked the Chi Ma Wan Correctional Institution site for a Russian refugee camp. In the end, they decided not to build it as various organizations and charities stepped in to house incoming Russians in more humane conditions.

For context, by 1980, around 20,000 Russians had passed through Hong Kong to seek new lives in other countries.

In the end, the site was erected in 1956 as Hong Kong’s first ‘open’ prison for low-risk inmates. It is no longer in use today.

Shap Long: The Village of the Water Buffalo

Keep following Chi Ma Wan Road past the interesting abandoned multi-story homes by Shap Long Village. If you’re feeling like a bit of a detour, Shap Long is one of the places where you’re highly likely to see herds of wild water buffalo in Hong Kong. There are probably more water buffalo than people living in Shap Long!

After Shap Long, you’ll want to keep following Chi Ma Wan Road all the way to the Tin Hau Temple near Pui O. Ignore the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail arch. That’s for another day.

A yellow Pui O sign will point you in the right direction after the arch.

Turn Left at the Tin Hau Temple

The Tin Hau Temple near Pui O is easily recognizable by its retinue of multi-colored triangular flags. Situated right by the beach, the temple itself is a highlight of the hike. Once you’re done exploring the temple, take the left path that follows the beach and coast.

This is where you stop following Chi Ma Wan Road.

As you hug the coast, look out for some of Hong Kong’s local airborne wildlife like egrets, herons and perhaps even a rare Brown Fish Owl!

Climb Uphill at the Mong Tung Wan Sign

During your breezy little coastal jaunt, you’ll see an odd, barred door surrounded by rock. It’s super weird and looks like some type of intense prison. That’s probably not what it is at all, but it’s still intriguing, nonetheless.

Eventually, you’ll arrive at a Mong Tung Wan sign. Follow it upward.

Chill Out at Mong Tung Wan – A Stunning, Secluded Beach

There’s no better reward after an uphill climb (even if it’s a gentle one) than a pristine beach. You can spend some time to kick back on the powdery, clean sand or grab a drink and bite at the restaurant by the beach.

Follow the concrete path upward from the near the restaurant until you reach the sign pointing you to Tai Long.

Follow the Tai Long Signs

Take the stairs up from the Tai Long sign and begin another ascent.

In a 15-minute stretch of hiking, you’ll encounter two signs that point you in the direction of ‘Tai Long Via Yi Long’. Yi Long Beach is the one that is right in front of The Sea Ranch.

Keep an eye out for those signs as you drink in the magical coastal views.

Near the second Tai Long Via Yi Long sign, you’ll see some dirt stairs leading you downward. Take those and go in the direction of the final Tai Long sign you see on your way down. After a few minutes of winding descent, you’ll arrive at the gorgeous Yi Long beach with the fabled brown-roofed properties of The Sea Ranch behind you.

The Sea Ranch: An Idyllic Paradise with a Dark Secret

Enjoy a walk along the paved walkway as palm trees sway gently to either side of you. Compared to the hustle and bustle of downtown Hong Kong, The Sea Ranch is an isolated paradise.

However, eventually, what was once welcomed silence quickly turns suspicious. Most of the apartments look fantastic from a distance, but a lot of them are just shells. With barely a soul in sight, no shops to buy food or groceries from and some of the homes - upon closer inspection - showing their age, it’s almost as if The Sea Ranch is hiding a dark secret.

And it is!

The Abandoned Clubhouse

Search hard enough and you’ll find the clubhouse lurking somewhere in the depths of the property. It’s almost like a hidden family secret that’s trying to be swept under the rug. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the clubhouse when you see the graffitied swimming pool.

This is certainly not the type of place I’d want to be trapped in at night. A lot of the rooms are falling apart and a few sections of the clubhouse even look exactly like the day they were abandoned. Old newspapers, alcohol bottles and artifacts remain from decades ago, really putting into perspective just how much of a time capsule the clubhouse is.

If you enter the clubhouse, do not take anything, do not destroy anything and do not deface anything.

The Way Back

At the end of Yi Long Beach (the one just in front of The Sea Ranch), you’ll find a private pier. There is a sign tacked to the pier with the phone numbers of private companies you can call to get a sampan out of The Sea Ranch. The numbers were: 90565095, 92190065 and 91038358.

It’s highly likely that the sampan operators won’t speak English, so you can ask the guards on the pier to help you ask for a sampan to Cheung Chau by showing them the following: 你能幫我問問有沒有去長洲的船?

These sampans will drop you to Cheung Chau. From Cheung Chau, you can take a ferry back to central. You can find the ferry schedule here.

Worst case, you’ll have to hike back the way you came.