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Ma Wan (馬灣) – A Multitude of Options For Mellow Hong Kong Exploring
Ma Wan (馬灣) is ripe for mellow family exploring. If you’ve got young children and you’re looking for an engaging (an non-strenuous) outing, definitely consider heading to Ma Wan.
Explore On Your Own
Below we provide a bunch of things to do on Ma Wan (馬灣) and a map showing the “route” we took. But, what we most enjoyed was exploring without too much of an agenda. We were able to hit some of the best parts of Ma Wan thanks to our new found friend Karen. Ultimately, while you could follow our exact route, we recommend you use this information to craft your own Ma Wan (馬灣) family adventure! But of course, if you’d prefer that we show you around, don’t hesitate to click below to get in touch.
The abandoned fishing village is a veritable ghost town.
The gentle coastal walking paths are beautiful. It would be effortless to spend at least a day here savoring these two experiences alone!
However, Ma Wan also has a few beaches you can enjoy including a semi-secret one, so consider packing your swimming kit (details below).
Ma Wan also has some gentle and scenic hiking. The route up Tai Leng Tau (pictured below) will afford you views of the coastline from on high as well as the impressive Tsing Ma Bridge.
And, don’t forget about Noah’s Ark Hong Kong! If you’re keen for an evangelical Christian theme park, you’ll be in the right place.
Of course, if you work up an appetite after exploring, and you likely will, there are plenty of beach side restaurants to choose from.
Ultimately, if you and your family are looking for a memorable outing but you don’t want something that might make you sweat a bit like this family-friendly Hong Kong hike, definitely head to Ma Wan.
And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
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How To Get To Ma Wan (馬灣)
There are three main ways to get to Ma Wan – (1) by public transit (MTR and bus), (2) by ferry or (3) by taxi. Private cars are not allowed on the island, so you won’t be able to drive your own to get here. There is no single best way to get to Ma Wan (馬灣), so consider where you’re coming from, explore a few of the following options, and then choose the one that best suites you.
Getting To Ma Wan by Public Transit
Getting to Ma Wan via public transit will involve riding both the MTR and a bus or two. You can of course use Google Maps to explore your options. However, we quite like CityMapper (iOS/Android), and we find it often saves us a bit of time compared to Google Maps. If you’re not familiar with Hong Kong’s public transit system, you’ll want to buy an Octopus Card, so you can most easily use all the busses and trains.
Getting To Ma Wan by Ferry
There are two ferries that go to Ma Wan. Click the previous link for the most up to date timetables. One of the ferries departs from Central Ferry Pier Number 2 – this ferry is termed the “Park Island Ferry” in reference to the Park Island Apartments on the island. The other ferry departs from the Tsuen Wan Ferry Pier. They both take you to the Park Island Pier, located in the northeast corner of the island, and again, you can use your Octopus Card to pay for the ferry.
Getting To Ma Wan by Taxi
While you cannot drive your own private car here, you can travel here by taxi. The taxi will drop you off at the roundabout just north of the Tsing Ma Control Area Toll Plaza. Keep in mind however, taking a taxi here will likely run you a few hundred Hong Kong dollars, so make sure you have some cash on hand.
Our Ma Wan (馬灣) Map
We made the map below using Guru Maps (iOS/Android). Without a doubt, GuruMaps is our favorite mapping app for navigating just about anywhere in the world, and we highly recommend you download it before heading out. After you download GuruMaps, we recommend you download our Ma Wan map (the one below), and then use our map while you’re exploring.
To download our map, simply click on any one of the three links in the top righthand corner of the map – (1) KML, (2) GPX or (3) GeoJSON. Then, open the downloaded file using GuruMaps. Voila! You’ll have our map on your own mobile device, and you’ll be able to use it however you see fit!
Note about Google Maps: The data on Google Maps is not very comprehensive for Ma Wan. While you can certainly use Google Maps to navigate while you’re on the island, if you do so, you’ll likely miss many of the nooks and crannies that makes Ma Wan such an interesting place to explore.
What To Bring To Ma Wan (馬灣)
Frankly, you don’t need much gear for a family exploration here. Depending on what you choose to do, i.e. hiking vs. spending the day on the beach vs. wandering around the Ma Wan (馬灣) Ghost Town, the gear you should bring will vary a bit. The items below are what you might bring if you try to do everything in one day, and while we don’t recommend trying to cram so much in, the choice is yours!
- Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Socks
- Rain/Wind Jacket
- Water Bottle(s)
- Sun Protection
- Beach Sun Shade (optional)
- Baby Backpack (optional)
- Baby Sunsuit (optional)
- Camera Lens (optional)
Whether we are hiking an intense trail or exploring terrain as mellow as Ma Wan, we always wear our hiking shoes. Put simply, we do this because they are comfortable, durable, and we don’t own tons of pairs of shoes!
Again, no matter what we are doing, we almost always wear wool socks. Wool naturally wicks away moisture and helps prevent blisters. In the warmer months we wear short and lightweight ones, and in the cooler months we wear long and heavyweight ones.
Wether we’re day hiking or cycling around the entire island of Taiwan, and since we never completely know when it might rain and/or when we might feel a bit chilled/sun burned, we always bring our rain/wind jackets. They are compact-able, lightweight and extremely versatile.
When we embark on an outdoor family adventure, we always bring reusable water bottles. These ones are insulated, so they’ll keep your beverages as hot or cold as you’d like. In the warmer months, for a place like Ma Wan, we recommend 1.5 liters per person. In the cooler months you could probably get away with 0.5 per person.
If you decide to hike Tai Leng Tau, you’ll want a bit of sun protection. This will be especially true in the warmer months.
Beach Sun Shade (optional)
If you go to either Ma Wan Tung Beach or the secret beach, you will most certainly want a sunshade. These are easy to set up, but they are a bit heavy. Therefore, if you do plan to spend the day at the beach, you may not want to also plan on hiking on the same day, unless of course, you don’t mind carrying a few extra pounds in your backpack.
Baby Backpack (optional)
We almost always bring our Osprey baby backpack when we get into an outdoor family adventure. The main reason is that it gives us the option of carrying the kids if we’re looking to cover more ground. On an outing as mellow as this one, it’s feasible to leave your baby carrier at home, but even to Ma Wan, we bring ours since we don’t want to risk the challenging task of carrying our kids in our arms for long distances.
Baby Sunsuit (optional)
When we take our kids to the beach, if we don’t feel like covering every inch of their body with suncream, we put them into a sunsuit. These are all quick dry and breathable – perfect for an outdoor family adventure!
While you don’t need to bring a camera, there are plenty of scenic spots, so we definitely bring ours. We like the setup below because it’s weatherproof, relatively lightweight, and very versatile. As an aside, we bring either the 35mm prime lens or the 24-105mm zoom lens, as bringing both is redundant.
Ma Wan (馬灣) Experiences
There are lots of things to do on Ma Wan. If you start early in the morning, hustle around to all of these spots, and then leave late in the evening, you could probably experience all Ma Wan has to offer in one very long day. However, if you want to check things out at a more relaxed pace, we recommend you pick one to three of these experiences, and then save the rest for another visit.
Ma Wan Ghost Town
Arguably, Ma Wan’s ghost town on it’s western coast is the most famous part of the whole island. However, this area was not always a ghost town.
In fact, for many years, this village was a prosperous fishing village.
However, developers wanted to build the Park Island Apartments (home to approximately 12,000 residents), and they needed the villagers to vacate in order to do so.
In spite of being offered flats in the new development, many residents of the Village did not want to leave their ancestral homes. Consequently, Thomas Kwok’s Sun Hung Kai Properties bought all the village land and then evicted everyone in haste.
Since 2011 no one has officially lived in Ma Wan Village, although rumors have it that some old residents still illegally inhabit their former homes.
In spite of the apparent injustice that occurred here, the area is both a fascinating and somber place to explore. Bring your camera, as there are many opportunities to capture the inevitable truth that nature conquers all.
Once you’ve finished exploring, head out towards the water and the Tsing Ma Bridge.
Ma Wan Coastal Walk
Just a short distance from the Ma Wan Ghost Town is the Cultural and Recreational Centre.
Make sure you take a walk out on the Ma Wan Public Pier as well.
Nearby is a very short but scenic coastal walk.
Once you reach the end of the coastal walk, turn back around and retrace your steps. Along the way you’ll pass through another part of the Village.
Eventually, make your way to Tai Leng Tau.
Ma Wan Hiking
If you’re keen for a gentle yet scenic hike, consider heading up Tai Leng Tau. There are two main options you have here.
(1) You can head up the peak, loop around, and then head back down. This is the option you should choose if you’d like to continue on to explore the Ma Wan coast and then eventually end at Ma Wan’s main beach, Ma Wan Tung Beach.
(2) You can head up and over Tai Leng Tau and down to the Tai Pai Tsui Pier. This is the option you should choose if you would like to experience a more secluded and less visited beach.
As an aside, if you don’t want to go up Tai Leng Tau, you can simply walk under the Tsing Ma Bridge and carry on to the coastal walk area. If you look at our map, this will all make plenty of sense.
Exploring Ma Wan Park
If you and your family aren’t up for a hike, but you’d still like to immerse yourself in nature, definitely consider taking a stroll through Ma Wan Park. All the details you’ll need are here.
Exploring The Ma Wan Coast
To get out to the eastern coast of the island, you’ll have to walk under the Tsing Ma Bridge for a bit.
Eventually you’ll reach this fence.
Turn right, and walk along the fence for a while.
Eventually, you’ll turn right again, and you’ll walk down this beautiful green tunnel!
At this point, you’ll be heading out towards the coast.
If your kiddos get a bit tired, give them a ride.
And don’t forget to take a family photo or two!
But then keep on going.
Eventually, you’ll reach the water, so take some time to explore.
When you’re ready to carry on, walk around until you can see the Tsing Ma Bridge. Then, carefully walk along the rocks.
Eventually, you will cross under the Tsing Ma Bridge and the reach the Ma Wan Tung Wan, Ma Wan’s main beach.
Ma Wan Beaches
There are two main beaches on Ma Wan. The first is Ma Wan Tung Wan and the second is the small beach near the Tai Pai Tsui Pier.
Ma Wan Tung Wan
If you’ve followed the above directions, you’ll end up at Ma Wan Tung Wan Beach, Ma Wan’s main beach.
This beach is the most accessible one on the island, and here you’ll have plenty of sand for anything from beach games to sunbathing. You’ll also be close to many of Ma Wan’s restaurants, so if you’re hungry, you’ll be in the right place.
Tai Pai Tsui Pier Beach
More difficult to get to, but more scenic and secluded, the beach near Tai Pai Tsui Pier is the one you should choose if you want a better chance to experience both serenity and calm.
From here you will enjoy a unique perspective looking eastward at both Southern District and Western District. To get here, look on our map for the orange pin with the hiking symbol like this one –> labeled “Optional turn off for Tai Leng Tau and Tai Pai Tsui Pier,” and then just follow the road and trail to get here.
Noah’s Ark Hong Kong
While we didn’t visit Noah’s Ark Hong Kong while we were exploring Ma Wan, it is certainly an experience that is unique to this part of the Special Administrative Region. Boasting the world’s “first full-scale Ark replica,” an Ark garden, an Ark expo and an Ark education house as well as a Fun Fun Playland, it would likely be easy to spend at least half a day (if not more) enjoying Noah’s Ark Hong Kong.
Ma Wan Pak Wan Tin Hau Temple
While we don’t consider a visit to this tiny temple an activity in and of itself, it is a nice spot to swing by en route to any of the other things to do on Ma Wan. And, since the temple is right near the water, you’ll get some nice views. Although when we were here there was a good bit of rubbish on the nearby beach, so if you’re in the mood to do a bit of good for the world, bring a trash bag and a pair of gloves, and help clean up a bit!
Ma Wan Restaurants
After a day of exploring Ma Wan, it’s likely you’ll want to eat something before heading back home. Of the many restaurants in Ma Wan, three, in particular, are located right on the beach. So, you’ll be able to enjoy a nice meal while simultaneously enjoying a seaside view. Alternatively, if you want to eat right on the Park Island Pier, you’ll have three more options.
Options On The Pier
Explore Ma Wan On Your Own
By now we hope it’s clear that there are a lot of things to do on Ma Wan. We also hope it’s clear that one of the most enjoyable elements of Ma Wan is how ripe it is for family-friendly exploring. Don’t be afraid to aimlessly wander, and see where it takes you. If you spend all day in the Ma Wan Ghost Town, or instead you end up hanging out on the beach, it’s all great as long as you and your family are having an engaging and enjoyable time!
Other Family Friendly Hong Kong Adventures
If after you’ve explored Ma Wan, you’re keen for another super mellow family adventure, consider hiking Waterfall Bay. While we do use the word “hike,” more accurately it’s a family-friendly and very gentle stroll along the southern coast of Hong Kong Island.
If you and your family are looking for something a bit more strenuous, and you’d like some lovely views of Hong Kong Island and beyond, consider hiking Hong Pak Country Trail.
For an overnight family adventure, consider camping on Lantau Island.
For a really off the beaten path Hong Kong day trip, you should head to the New Territories to explore the Ho Pui Reservoir Family Walk.
If none of these fit what you’re looking for, feel free to contact us, and we’d be glad to recommend something that fits you and your family. And, as usual, if you have any questions/comments about all of this, feel free to leave them below!