There are several islands that make up the group of Po Toi Islands. And Po Toi (蒲台島) is the main island and the southernmost island of Hong Kong.
When you visit Po Toi, you can see many famous well-weathered granite rocks and prehistoric rock cravings by hiking the Po Toi Country Trail (蒲台郊遊徑). The easy trail loops around the island including the south part where you can see the “South Pole of Hong Kong“.
It is possible to see all the attractions in one day. In this post, I’ll show you how to get to Po Toi Island and how to maximize your day. The Po Toi Island hike includes all the best attractions including the southern tip of Hong Kong.
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What you need to know before taking a ferry to Po Toi Island
Before you plan your day trip to Po Toi Island, take a look at my Hong Kong solo travel guide and get an overview of Hong Kong first.
Here are a few additional tips for hiking in Po Toi Island:
- The best time for the hiking around Po Toi Island is late autumn, winter and early spring. Most of the trail is exposed to the sun; I would not recommend hiking Po Toi Island during the height of summer.
- It is possible to take a day trip to Po Toi and see all the best attractions on the same day. Even on Tuesday, where you get only 4.5 hours (shortest amount of time) to explore the island.
- And if you are going on a Tuesday, bring some food as you will be eating while trekking around the island.
- Bring enough water for a few hours of hiking.
- Bring sunscreen and other sun protection.
- Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation and use it for taking the ferry to and from Po Toi Island. It costs $100HKD, but you can use $50 stored value and get your $50HKD refundable deposit when you leave HK.
An overview of Po Toi Island Hong Kong
Po Toi Island has an area of 3.69 km2 where all the attractions are located in the south and west part of the island.
Moreover, there are three paved hiking trails connecting these highlights around the island. Each trail is a loop that overlaps with at least one other route. And in Google Maps, you will see that Route 1 and 2 are part of the Po Toi Country Trail.
Here are the names of the three trails and the attraction you will see:
- Route 1 (center loop): Old Mansion of Family Mo, Cheung Shek Pai, Coffin Rock, Kwoon Yat Pagoda, Ngau Wu Teng, ancient rock carvings
- Route 2 (southern loop): Monk Rock, Tortoise Rock, Lighthouse 126, Nam Kok Tsui, South Pole, Gold Panning Cliff, Buddha’s Hand Rock or Palm Rock
- Route 3 (northern loop): Tin Hau Temple, Snail Rock or Conch Rock
Click on the map below to see an enlarged version. You can also see this map at the Po Toi Pier when you arrive at the pier.
Po Toi Island: how to get there
There is only one Kaito ferry to Po Toi Island. The small ferry picks up passengers from both Aberdeen and Stanley.
From Aberdeen, the pier is at the Tsui Wah Ferry Services at the Aberdeen Pier at the Aberdeen Promenade. This is the same pier where Tsui Wah Ferry takes passengers to Lamma Island.
And from Stanley, the pick-up and drop-off point is at Blake Pier, which is near Murray House in Stanley.
- Tsui Wah Ferry Service: from Aberdeen/Stanley to Po Toi Island
- Time: 50 minutes
- Cost: $25HKD one way (use Octopus Card)
- Check: Transport Department website for more information
Po Toi Island Ferry Schedule
Below is the complete Po Toi Island ferry schedule for Kaito ferries from Aberdeen and Stanley. There is also a timetable at the ferry pier before you get on the ferry to Po Toi Island.
Tuesdays & Thursdays
|Aberdeen to Po Toi Island||Po Toi Island to Aberdeen|
|10:00 am||3:30 pm|
|Aberdeen to Po Toi Island||Po Toi Island to Aberdeen||Po Toi Island to Stanley||Stanley to Po Toi Island|
|10:00 am||2:00 pm||12:40 pm||1:20 pm|
|3:00 pm||4:00 pm|
Sundays & Public Holidays
|Aberdeen to Po Toi Island||Po Toi Island to Aberdeen||Po Toi Island to Stanley||Stanley to Po Toi Island|
|8:15 am||6:00 pm||9:15 am||10:00 am|
|10:45 am||11:30 am|
|3:00 pm||3:30 pm|
|4:30 pm||5:00 pm|
Best day for Po Toi Island hike
Base on the Po Toi Island ferry schedule, the maximum amount of time you can spend on Po Toi Island is as follows:
- Tuesdays: max of 4.5 hours
- Saturdays: max of 5 hours
- Sundays and Public Holidays: max of 8 hours and 45 minutes
Obviously, it is best to visit Po Toi on Sunday because you can have the most time on the island (assuming you take the first ferry there and last ferry back). But the island can be busy on the weekend and public holidays.
But if you are like me, someone who likes to avoid the crowd, then definitely go on a Tuesday. You get 4.5 hours on the island but it is enough to see all the best attractions.
So no matter which day you choose to go, you can follow my Po Toi Island one-day itinerary because my guide is base on the shortest amount of time you can spend on Po Toi, which is base on a Tuesday day trip.
How to hike to Po Toi Country Trail: one-day itinerary
From Po Toi Island Pier, hike up Route 1 until the hiking trail meets Route 3. Walk up to the highest point of Route 3 to take in the view, then backtrack to Route 1 and complete the entire loop. Start hiking Route 2 when Route 1 ends, and hike the loop in a clockwise direction.
When you are at the sign for the “south pole”, hike across the rock formation to the southernmost point of Hong Kong. Return to Route 2, complete the loop and return to Po Toi Island Pier.
Then follow the signs for Route 3 and hike as far as the Snail/Conch Rock then return back to the pier and catch the Po Toi ferry back to Aberdeen or Stanley.
Click on “more options” on the top left corner of Google Maps and the map will open in your browser or in the app on your smartphone. And I included the elevation profile for this hike too.
- Difficulty: easy
- Duration: 4 hours
- Distance: 6.5km
- What to bring: light hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation)
Arrive at Po Toi Island Pier
After a 50-minute to an hour ferry ride, the Kaito ferry docks at the Po Toi Island Pier, which is in an inlet on the southwest part of the island.
As you walk towards the island, you’ll see a small restaurant on the right. This is one of the few restaurants on the island where you can try a signature dish in Po Toi: instant noodles with fried eggs, luncheon meat and seaweed. If you have time at the end of the day, make sure to try a bowl!
Keep walking until you see an alley between the pink building and the Po Toi sign. Walk through this alley and follow the trail.
Hike up Route 1 (center loop) of the Po Toi hike
After the pink building, the trail meanders through an area with a few abandoned shacks.
And soon after, there is a set of staircase on the right. Ignore these stairs for now. You’ll come down from these stairs when you complete Route 1 later on.
Walk up the second set of stairs on the right. It has a signpost for Route 1.
The concrete stairway is relatively easy. The steps are wide and has very slight elevation gains.
As you walk up the hill, you’ll see Po Toi School on the left. There’s not much to see here, though. All the doors and windows are boarded up.
Panoramic views from Route 1: Tai Wan Village and Tin Hau Temple
As you hike up Route 1, turn around and take a look at the views once in awhile. Along Route 1, you can see the Tai Wan Village in front of Tai Wan, the small inlet of water. And you can also see Tin Hau Temple at the right tip of the island.
Old Mansion of Family Mo
Keep walking up the stairway until you see a sign for the Old Mansion of Family Mo. Turn right and follow the narrow path until you see the dilapidated house.
The house wasn’t always in such bad condition. Mo’s Old House or the “Deserted Mansion of Family Mo” (巫氏廢宅) was once a family home for a merchant named Mo and his family. The house was built in the 1930s but was ransacked by pirates. I’ve also read stories of attempted kidnapping and was occupied by Japanese army, etc.
Not really clear on the exact story. But what is clear is that nobody lives here anymore. You can still see the what’s left of the house, random household items and rubbish all over the property.
Hike up Cheung Shek Pai
Hike up the concrete stairway and a series of massive rocks which created a natural trail up the mountain. This whole area or village is called Cheung Shek Pai (長石排).
I was taking a bunch of breaks on the way up. But so glad I did because there are a lot of opportunities to take beautiful photos from Cheung Shek Pai. Tai Wan Village and Tin Hau Temple are both still there but much smaller. And you can also see more of Po Toi Island from above.
On the way up the massive rocky path, there are signages along the way indicating specific attractions.
When you see one a signage near the rocky path, it points in the southeast direction. And in the far distance, you can see a long horizontal rock in the middle of the green hill. This is the Coffin Rock (棺材石).
If it wasn’t for the sign, I’m not sure if I would see it. And even when you do see it, it is quite small. The photo below is a zoomed-in version of the Coffin Rock. I read that you can hike up to the rock but there are many trees along the way. Not sure if that is the best use of time if you only have a few hours to see the whole island. So let’s continue forward.
More photo opps on the way up Route 1
There is a massive rock on Route 1 that reminds me of a fist where the fingers are bent inward against the palm of the hand. And when you stand on the rock, it looks like you are on top of the knuckles of the hand. There is no official name of this rock but I thought it was interesting.
Hike up to the highest point of Route 3 (northern loop) of the Po Toi hike
As you hike up Route 1, you’ll see a signpost pointing northwest. This is the start for Route 3.
For this one-day itinerary, I decided to include part of Route 3 because there is an amazing viewpoint at the highest point of Route 3. Plus, it doesn’t take too much time and a relatively easy hike up.
All you have to do is hike in the direction of the signpost. There is a visible trail up the hill. There is even some chain railing on the steeper parts of the hill.
Panoramic views from the highest point on Route 3
The short detour up to the highest point of Route 3 is completely worth it because this is the only spot where you can see views northwest of Po Toi Island.
Once you walk past the area with all the stacked stones, the view opens up on the northwest side. And on a clear day, you can see Beaufort Island, one of the Po Toi Islands.
Further away in the same direction, you can see the mountain peaks on D’Aguilar Peninsula. Those undulated peaks are part of the “back” of the Dragon’s Back hiking trail.
And when you look in the direction of northwest, you may even see the Stanley Peninsula. There is a rock that resembles the head of a rhinoceros on the east side of the peninsula (but it is too small to see from here).
Not a bad view for only hiking up a few minutes. Take a few more photos for Instagram before heading back down Route 3 and continuing on Route 1.
Return to Route 1 and complete the loop
Hike back down the same way you came up. This is when the chain railing comes in handy.
When Route 3 meets with Route 1, the trail is a paved pathway. All you have to do is follow the trail.
But look around while you are hiking up the hill. The view on the left (east) is pretty amazing! This is your first opportunity to see the east side of Po Toi Island.
FYI – when I hiked Po Toi Island in December, there were lots of silvergrass along the north side of Route 1. It was quite magical when the whispy grass were all swaying to the rhythm of the wind. Hopefully you get to see that too!
Kwoon Yat Pagoda / Ngau Wu Teng Pavilion
On the way up on Route 1, there is a massive rock next to the trail. This rock does not have a name, though.
And soon after, you’ll reach the highest point on the hill, marked by a triangulation post on top of a rock. I suppose the top of the rock is the highest point?
And right after that is the Kwoon Yat Pagoda (觀日亭). It is also called Ngau Wu Teng Pavilion (蒲台島涼亭) because the structure sits on Ngau Wu Teng, the highest point on Po Toi Island. And at 188m, this might be a good spot for a bit of rest and water.
Before continuing on Route 1, take a look at the coastal view on the southeast side of the Po Toi Island. You’ll have to walk through a few shrubs and bushes before the view opens up.
Merge into Route 2 (southern loop)
Continue on the long stairway as it descends the mountain and it will take you to Route 2. So at the base of Route 1, turn left on Route 2.
This route is a loop around the southern peninsula of Po Toi Island. The southern part of the island is called also Ngong Chong. On this part of the island, you’ll see many more well-weathered granite rocks.
And remember, this is still part of Po Toi Country Trail. The trail includes both Route 1 and 2.
Hike clockwise on Route 2
For this itinerary, I decided that it would be best to hike clockwise on the Route 2 loop because there seems to be less of an uphill hike.
Along the way, there is another resting pavilion. And this area seems to be really popular with campers too. There were many tents set up in this area when I hiked Po Toi Island last December.
And I walked a bit off track towards the coast to see the views. It is quite stunning. And on the way back, I can see the hiking trails and hills of Po Toi Island. This is when I realized how high the tallest peak is. You can actually see Route 1 zigzagging down the mountain!
Monk Rock and Tortoise Rock
Continue hiking on Route 2. There is a signpost on the way up. It points to two special rocks.
To the east of the signpost, there is a rock shaped like a man. This is the Monk Rock (僧人石). I read somewhere online that this man has his head raised in contemplation while looking out to the sea. But I saw it as a man bowing to someone. I guess it’s how you interpret it?
And on the other side of the signpost, it points to an area with several large rocks. One of them is the Tortoise Rock (靈龜上山石). Honestly, I didn’t even know this is the Tortoise Rock. I took a few photos of this area and hoping I can see the resemblence in the photos. But I still can’t see. Do you? Its’ suppose to look like a turtle popping its head out of the side of the hill.
Po Toi Lighthouse 126 / Nam Kok Tsui Lighthouse
Continue forward and you will see the next attraction located on the top of a hill: Po Toi Lighthouse (南角咀燈塔), the southernmost lighthouse in Hong Kong.
This active lighthouse was built in 1970. It is also known as Lighthouse 126 and Nam Kok Tsui Lighthouse (“Nam Kok Tsui” means “southern tip” in Cantonese). And it is super popular for photo taking.
Nam Kok Tsui: the southernmost point of Hong Kong
After the lighthouse, the trail descends quickly. But don’t worry, it is a set of concrete stairway with railings.
While you are walking down the stairs, you can see Nam Kok Tsui (南角嘴) on the left. Remember I said earlier that “Nam Kok Tsui” means southern tip in Chinese? This is precisely the “South Pole of Hong Kong“!
There is an actual opening in the green railing where it invites you to the southern part of the island. And beyond the railing, there is a dirt path that leads you to the southern tip.
I read many blogs about Po Toi Island but not many of them talked about exploring the “South Pole”. But I think this is one of the best parts on Po Toi Island. It’s not a difficult hike as long as you are wearing a pair of light hiking shoes.
The South Pole and Gold Panning Cliff
The trek to “South Pole of Hong Kong” isn’t difficult. However, there is no actual “path”. You’ll have to see the actual rock formation and gauge which way is best for you to get to the southern tip.
When you arrive at “South Pole”, you can see the a cliffy coast next to the blue turquoise water. You can’t actually touch the water because the edge is pretty high from the crashing waves. And there’s nothing else there to indicate that it is the southernmost point in Hong Kong, but still pretty neat to see!
On the way back to Route 2, there is a steep cliff on the right called Gold Panning Cliff. When you look in the northeast direction, you can see Lighthouse 126 sitting high above on the golden cliff.
Buddha’s Hand Rock / Palm Rock
Continue hiking Route 2 towards Route 1. And in no time, you can see the Buddha’s Hand Rock (佛手岩) or Palm Rock on the right. If you can’t see, there is a signpost pointing east.
Out of all the rock formation, the Buddha’s Hand Rock mostly resemble what its suppose to look like. It literally looks like all the fingers from a hand are pointing to the sky. And it even looks like a person’s head as if the person is praying or meditating.
Merge back to Route 1 and walk towards the pier
Complete the rest of Route 2 and merge back onto Route 1. The path will lead you back to the rock carvings and eventually back to Po Toi Ferry Pier.
Along the way, take in the view. I thought the mountain looks particularly beautiful. Something about the colour and the pattern of the rocks that I find really interesting.
Rock Carvings on Po Toi Island
These are one of the few coastal rock carvings along the coastlines of HK and they have all been declared as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance for protection.
At Po Toi Island, there are two groups of rock carvings were discovered in the 1970s. It is believed that the carvings were made during the Bronze Age as the geometric patterns have a close resemblance to the ones during that period. That’s 3,000 years ago!
These are one of the nine rock carvings which are scattered across coastlines of the islands of Hong Kong. Other rock carvings can be found in Cheung Chau, Shek Pik, Wong Chuk Hang, Lung Ha Wan, Kau Sai Chau, Tung Lung Chau, Cape Collinson and Big Wave Bay.
Return to Po Toi Island Pier
Complete the rest of Route 1 by following the path.
Just before the pier, there is a local restaurant called Kwan Kee Store. Route 1 continues through the restaurant. Yes, you walk through the restaurant to get back to the pier.
Kwan Kee Store serves the signature dish and sells seaweed too. I bought a bag for $10HKD so I can make seaweed soup at home. If you don’t buy seaweed here, other restaurants in Po Toi also sells this local product.
After walking through Kwan Kee Store, the trail descends via a couple of steps. Remember the first set of stairway at the beginning of Route 1? These are the precise stairs. When you get to the perpendicular junction, turn left and it will lead you back to the pink building and the pier.
Follow the path and signs for Route 3
When I completed both Route 1 and 2, I had enough time to do a quick trip over to the tip of Route 3 to see Tin Hau Temple and the Snail or Conch Rock.
Check your time to make sure you have enough time to see these attractions and return back to the pier. It takes about 10 minutes to get there and another 10 minutes back.
When you are near Po Toi Pier, follow the paved path going north. This is part of Route 3, the northern loop.
The trail hugs around bay and criss crosses Tai Wan Village. There are a few more restaurants here like Ming Kee Seafood Restaurant (明記海鮮酒家) and Yiu Kee Food.
Tin Hau Temple, Po Toi Island
On the southwestern edge of the island is where you can find Tin Hau Temple (蒲台島天后廟).
Typically, Tin Hau Temples are built along the coast and facing the water. It is said that these temples are dedicated to Tin Hau, a Chinese sea goddess, who protects the local fisherman and villages.
Snail Rock / Conch Rock
Hike a few more minutes west and you’ll see the Snail Rock or Conch Rock (響螺石).
Even though I wasn’t sure what this rock looks like because to me it doesn’t look like either a snail or conch. But it was pretty clear that this is THE rock! What do you think it looks like?
When you are ready to return to the pier, backtrack all the way back to the pier.
I read a few blogs about Route 3 in Po Toi. It doesn’t seem like there’s much to see other than Tin Hau Temple and the Snail or Conch Rock. The trail is steep and may require clambering. But if you are an intermediate hiker, this is not a big deal.
The bigger deal was timing. It was challenging to fit everything in within 4.5 hours. So I’m sorry I had to cut out the eating portion of the trip. But I am quite pleased with seeing everything I wanted to see in just a few hours on the island.
Return to the pier and catch the Po Toi ferry back to Aberdeen or Stanley
Here’s a big tip for taking the ferry back to Aberdeen or Stanley: go back to the ferry at least 20 – 30 minutes before the departure time.
I noticed people went back to the ferry 45 minutes before departure to get a seat on the ferry. I managed to get back around 25 minutes before the ferry leaves and got a seat upstairs. Some people came on the boat right before departure time and didn’t get a seat.
I was very happy to be seated for a 50-minute ferry ride because I was dead tired from all the hiking! So if you want to rest your tired feet, go back to the ferry as soon as you can!
Are you ready to trek Po Toi Island hiking trails?
I hope you enjoyed my post on Po Toi and my one-day itinerary around the island. I thought it was one of the best day trips I’ve had in HK.
Even if you don’t have a lot of experiences in hiking, you can easily trek the Po Toi Island hike because it is super easy and fun.
If you like exploring islands around Hong Kong, check out other islands like Cheung Chau, Peng Chau and Lamma Island. There are many things to do on each of these islands including hiking trails and local attractions.
Other hiking trails in Hong Kong you might want to check out:
- Victoria Peak Hike: See Hong Kong’s beautiful skyline
- High West: A short hike to see the Victoria Peak sunset
- Red Incense Burner Summit on Braemar Hill: best spot for sunset and night views
- Mount Nicholson Hike: see hidden rock statues in the middle of HK Island
- Violet Hill and the Twins: hike over two mountains with over 1,000+ steps
- Pineapple Mountain: the Great Canyon of Hong Kong
- High Junk Peak: one of three sharpest peaks in HK
- Ma On Shan Hike: hike across the horse-saddle mountain to Sai Kung
- Pat Sin Leng Hike: hike over 8 peaks named after Chinese Mythological immortals
- Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail: hike around HK’s largest reservoir
- Kowloon Peak and Suicide Cliff: see Hong Kong’s most dramatic cliff
- Po Pin Chau: hike around hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung
- Tung O Ancient Trail: hike the coastal trail in Lantau North Country Park
- Lo Yan Shan hike: hike Chi Ma Wan Country Trail in southern Lantau Island
- Trio Beach hike: see a secret beach and rocky headland in Sai Kung
- Cape Collinson hike: see and old battery on the east end of HK Island
- Tsing Yi Nature Trails: meander through the easy trails in Tsing Yi
- Tsing Yi Peak: hike the three peaks on Tsing Yi Island
- Ma Shi Chau Nature Trail: see 280 million year old rocks in Tai Po
- Fan Lau hike: explore the southwest tip of Lantau Island
- Tai Tan Country Trail: hike an easy coastal trail in Sai Kung
- Robin’s Nest Hike and Lin Ma Hang Cave: explore northern HK near the Shenzhen border
- Kai Kung Leng: hike the Rooster Ridge in Lam Tsuen Country Park