Cape D’Aguilar, or Hok Tsui, is the peninsula located south of Shek O, on the south-east side of Hong Kong Island. It is one of the easiest coastal trails that lead to some of the most beautiful and picturesque spots on the island.
From caves and rock formations to a lighthouse and World War 2 relics, and even a marine reserve, Cape D’Aguilar is an incredible day outing for just about anyone!
With this guide, we’ll showcase the major attractions you can expect to see here.
To get to the starting point for Cape D’Aguilar:
- Make your way to Shau Kei Wan MTR
- Take Exit A3 at the station
- Follow the signs for bus number 9.
- IMPORTANT: Due to the popularity of Cape D’Aguilar, not all number 9 buses go to the starting point.
- There are some buses that skip Cape D’Aguilar and go straight to Shek O.
- There are some terminate at Cape D’Aguilar.
- And then there are some that go via the normal route, which is via Cape D’Aguilar before terminating at Shek O.
- Make sure that the bus you board, states “via Cape D’Aguilar” or that it terminates at Cape D’Aguilar. If it omits Cape D’Aguilar, don’t get onto it.
Cape D’Aguilar Trail Info & Map
Here’s a quick overview of the trail, so that you know what to expect.
The trail is paved all the way, with a moderate to a slight incline. So, it’s not really necessary to come dressed in proper hiking gear. But if you plan to visit the batteries, then we highly recommend that you do come in hiking attire.
And here’s a quick video of what to expect
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Walk down Cape D’Aguilar Road
The path from the bus stop is pretty straightforward. Simply walk down along Cape D’Aguilar Road as it winds its way between the hill on one side and the sea on the other. In the beginning, the trail offers very scenic coastal views of Stanley (across Tai Tam Bay) and the South China Sea.
Take your time to admire the sights, after all this is a fun excursion!
About 2.5 km into the walk, you’ll approach the PCCW Cape D’Aguilar HF Radio Transmitting Station. There are a speed-breaker and signs that tell you not to trespass. No worries, simply go off-road at this point.
You’ll notice a beaten path that runs in the grassy land along the main road. This path goes around the radio station and joins the paved road on the other side.
Another 200 metres later and you’ll notice a fork in the road. If you go left, you’ll reach the Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse. And if you turn right, you’ll reach the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve. Let’s first explore the marine reserve.
Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve
As you walk the final stretch towards the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve, you get this end-of-the-world feeling. Strong waves and uninhabited islands in the sea are all that you can see.
The marine park is one of the six marine parks and reserves in Hong Kong. The other marine park that we really like is Hoi Ha Wan, in Sai Kung. Other than the natural biodiversity of fish and coral in the marine park, what fascinated us most was the rock formation in the area.
So what all is there to see in the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve?
Just as you walk down the incline towards the marine reserve, keep an eye out for a hidden path on your left. This path takes you to Thunder Cave (I think that’s the name), a narrow opening between the rocks that opens up to the sea on the other side.
Be careful as you descend down the rocks, it can be slippery. Once inside the cave, enjoy the thunder of the waves washing up onto the rocks.
The crashing waves and the water gushing into the cave make this a particularly photogenic spot. That’s why it should be no surprise then that it’s quite popular among Instagrammers.
Bones of Miss Willy (Skeleton of a Whale)
From Thunder Cave, walk back up to the main path and continue walking down the slope towards the white building – The University of Hong Kong Swire Institute of Marine Science. Just beside the building are the bones of a whale for display. Unfortunately, the bones haven’t been protected from natural elements such as the sun and winds and aren’t in the best condition. They’re pretty badly battered.
The question that everyone asks is, where did the bones of this whale come from? Google Maps says that these are the Bones of Miss Willy. But who is Miss Willy? I don’t know, but from what I’ve read the bones belong to either
- “Hoi Wai”, a female orca (killer whale) who performed in Ocean Park for 18 years until her death in 1997, or
- A juvenile Bryde’s whale found stranded between the pillars of a wharf in Victoria Harbour in 1955.
Just behind the Marine Science building is another area of interest. But be careful as you walk towards it, as the ground is full of sharply protruding rocks.
The main attraction here is the Crab Cave, a name given by its arch-shaped appearance that resembles a crab. With the view of the ocean and the waves from under the arch, it’s no surprise that the Crab Cave is the most popular photo spot for Instagram lovers! To be honest, the cave is an extremely picturesque spot!
It is also possible to climb on top of the arch for some beautiful views of the South China Sea. Just be careful of the sharp and slippery rocks.
Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse
The 9.7 metres tall Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse may not be the most impressive lighthouse in the world, but it sure does have some history attached to it. In fact, it is one of the Declared Monuments of Hong Kong.
To make your way to the lighthouse, simply trace your steps back to the fork in the road, but this time go the other way. Walk past the student accommodation area till you reach the lighthouse.
The Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Hong Kong. It served from 1875 to 1896. But it was re-lit and automated in 1975. The lighthouse is still running under the management of the Marine Department. But for security and operational reasons, it is not open to the public.
The lighthouse (and the cape) is named after Major-General Sir George Charles D’Aguilar (1784–1855), who served as Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong and Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong from 1843 to 1848.
Cape D’Aguilar Battery
There are two World War 2 batteries on Cape D’Aguilar, the Bokhara Battery and the Cape D’Aguilar Battery. The Bokhara Battery is located behind the lighthouse, whereas the Cape D’Aguilar Battery is located next to the Hok Tsui Lower Village. The Bokhara Battery might be easier to access, but we definitely think the Cape D’Aguilar Battery is far more beautiful.
Although all sights that we’ve mentioned until now can be easily accessed via a paved trail, getting to the battery requires a bit of an effort. At the very least, would definitely recommend wearing proper shoes.
The access to the Cape D’Aguilar Battery, look out for a hidden trail on your right as you approach Hok Tsui village from the bus stop. Take the steps down, and follow the markers and white arrows to avoid getting lost. The first 50 metres of the trail are relatively easy, but the next 450 metres are a bit steep going down.
As you probably guessed, the detour is 500 metres one way, which means a 1 km return. On the way down, we saw another building structure overrun by nature.
The last 15 metres of the trail require you to descend using a rope. Hence, we advise hiking shoes. But after that, you arrive at this beautiful battery!
About the Cape D’Aguilar Battery
The Cape D’Aguilar Battery was built in 1939 and came under the Eastern Fire Command. It was equipped with two 4-inch guns supplied by the Royal Navy.
On 19 December 1941, as the Japanese invaders advanced towards the battery, the gunners were ordered to destroy their emplacements and retire from their positions. After the demolition, the members withdrew to Stanley, which is right across the Tai Tam Bay.
The existing structures of the Cape D’Aguilar Battery are pretty widespread. They include two gun emplacements, a battery command post, searchlight emplacements, magazines, ammunition bunker, observation posts, and pillboxes.
Both the batteries on Cape D’Aguilar were accorded with Historical Building Grade 2 status on 18 December 2009.
If you come to the Cape D’Aguilar Battery, there is another bonus right next to it in the form of a tiny beautiful beach!
Your Guide to Cape D’Aguilar
We hope this post helps you guide and plan your trip to Cape D’Aguilar. With easy access to such beautiful and photogenic spots, no wonder it’s such a popular location with tourists and locals alike!
Feel free to add Cape D’Aguilar into your itinerary when you plan to visit Shek O or Big Wave Bay next, or as a standalone activity. And make sure you share this post with those who will appreciate discovering yet another new part of Hong Kong Island.