This is one of the special places in Hong Kong if you are a fan of geology and/or enjoy seeing unique seaside cliffs and coastlines. Po Pin Chau is an island that was once part of a cape that extended into the sea just south of the High Island Reservoir East Dam in the Sai Kung Country Park. If that were all to the story, Po Pin Chau would be an absolutely beautiful island to see. However, what makes this place so remarkable is that the entire island is made out of 50-60 metre tall stacks of rare hexagonal volcanic columns which can only be found at a few places on Earth.
The island is part of the UNESCO Geopark in Hong Kong and can be seen by way of a trail south of the East Dam which ascends up the cape to a cliffside viewpoint, where you find full frontal view of the Po Pin Chau cliff face, a straight vertical wall of volcanic columns. You can also see the small channel below, where the sea carved its way through and separated Po Pin Chau from the cape. Depending on the time of year and if you are lucky, you may see kayakers going through the cut below. The trail to Po Pin Chau is moderately difficult and will take no less than 20 minutes to climb for experienced hikers and probably 30+ for those with less experience or fitness.
As part of your visit to see Po Pin Chau, it is well worth visiting three other places nearby. The easiest and most accessible is the High Island Geo Trail which goes down into the buffer area below the East Dam. Here you walk right past some of the volcanic hexagonal columns, the same you will see at Po Pin Chau. These are much shorter but it is nice to see them up close and there is posted information to help you understand how this rare geology was formed millions of years ago.
A second add-on is a bit more challenging but even better than the previous mention. As you climb up to the Po Pin Chau viewpoint. You will pass a rope assisted climb down to the Kim Chu Wan pebble beach. Trust me, do this if you have time! Once you make it down to the beach, you will encounter much taller stacks of the hexagonal columns up close. These are not as tall as Po Pin Chau but they still tower above you. This is where you can really appreciate the uniqueness of the geology you are seeing.
A third rewarding add-on are the remarkable viewpoints along the Po Pin Chau trail towards Pak Lap Beach. You have to climb over a fairly high hill. Afterwards, you find yourself at several incredible viewpoints, looking back towards Po Pin Chau from around 500-600 metres away. From here you can see the hexagonal column stacks extending into the distance, forming an entire coastline of towering hexagonal columns which only end at Po Pin Chau.
These are three stops that you can consider adding to your hike up to see Po Pin Chau while in the Sai Kung East Country Park. We usually do all of them at least once or twice a year. Combined, they make a great way to spend 3-4 hours seeing the volcanic columns from different heights and proximities, they also represent some of the very best of the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark.