There’s a path leading uphill from beside Pak Tei Temple, up past an old folks’ home. Keep left, and up and up flights of steps, and you’ll come to a small, concrete park. Turn right here, and you can continue uphill, leaving the village to pass through trees, with views over to Lantau Island on your left.
The path skirts a service reservoir (on hilltop, but below ground). Below, to the left, is a housing development at the bottom of a valley – evidently supposed to be like places such as Hong Lok Yuen, but seems many places not occupied.
There’s a rough track, then steps, up to a pavilion with fabulous views over Cheung Chau, and across the sea to Lamma, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Lantau. Well, fabulous if you’re here on a clear day, and especially good late on a sparkling afternoon.
There’s a relatively new, and rather grand, path leading from the pavilion, down a small headland to the east. Here, you’re in a wilder part of the island. The path reaches a shelter, and turns down to the left. (You could perhaps continue down the headland, but take great care: the path is rough and narrow, and there are cliffs on the right.)
The path drops down – yes, plenty more steps! – to the Coral Beach – Tung Wan Tsai, tucked away in this deep inlet in northeast Cheung Chau.
This is a pleasant beach, with fine sand. As I’ve discovered by snorkelling, there is indeed some coral here – though only tiny colonies, on rocks fringing the bay.
But this beach faces east, into the prevailing winds of winter: and all manner of horrible lap sap floats in from across the harbour (much of Hong Kong origin, but maybe also stuff from mainland China, carried down the Pearl River).
This means the tideline can be strewn with lap sap.
Not so bad in summer (when winds mainly from southwest), but real sad, stopping this beach being any kind of paradise.
And, a sad reflection on the state of Hong Kong/South China – a real throwaway society.
From the beach, you could walk back up the same path. Or, there’s a steep path – with many more steps – up from the north end of the beach, passing trees, an old banana grove, clumps of bamboo and ruined walls (supporting what were tiny terraced fields), where there was surely a small farm many years ago.
At the top of the steps, there’s a junction where you could turn right, to the northeast headland of Cheung Chau. Or, left to below the pavilion. From near the pavilion, if you want to walk a different route back to the village, turn right on a narrow road that curls round and down a valley side, to the northwest coast of Cheung Chau, then along the coastal road to the main village.