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Ap Lei Chau to Ap Le Pai Hike (Mount Johnston Lighthouse)

Ap Lei Chau to Ap Le Pai Hike (Mount Johnston Lighthouse)

The Ap Lei Chau to Ap Lei Pai hike is a great little coastal trail that takes you out to Mount Johnston Lighthouse via a small sandbar. It’s an out-and-back hike that is just under 5-km but it will still serve up some solid incline with over 500m of ascent up and over the hills each way. This is a beautiful hike on a sunny day, so make sure you don’t forget to look out for the secret tide pool.

a person laying on a rock near the ocean.


In this blog post, I’ll share all of the details you need to know about the Ap Lei Chau to Ap Lei Pai hike in Hong Kong.


  • Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike for me was 4.85km for the out-and-back hike. It could be a little less if you don’t wander off the trail.
  • Hike Duration: The total duration for the hike was 1 hour and 40-minutes of walking time but with all the time at viewpoints it was more like 3 hours. We had a swim t the tide pool, which took some time.
  • Hike Difficulty: The hike is not a difficult one but can be quite steep in some parts. There is a rope in the steep parts but we didn’t need it too much. The incline will have many people gasping but it is not really too dangerous if you take it slow on the way down.
  • Hike Incline: The total incline of the hike was 300-meters.


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Getting to the trailhead for the hike is quite easy as there is an MTR station right nearby. Catch the train to Lei Tung MTR station and then walk out to Lei Tung Estate Road. There you will find two small, bright yellow office buildings.

You literally need to walk straight through the middle of them, hop up on the ledge and then walk through the gap to the trail. Choose the stairs on the far left and then off you set following the ribbons up the hill. I’ll add pictures below in the hike description to give you a visual for those directions.

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I arrived at the Lei Tung MTR station and then walked out to Leit Tung Estate Road in search of the two yellow office buildings. You can’t miss them. It’s quite an odd hike entrance because it seems like you are trespassing but it’s right next to an office. I don’t understand why they haven’t made it an entrance with a sign as the trail is quite popular.

Anyhow, I walked through the middle of the yellow buildings and then veered to the left before taking the very left set of stairs out of a few different stairway options. Below are the series of photos to show you the route in the early stages. Once you reach the top of the stairs and push through past the sign on the left again, it is straightforward. But you may find these photos of the early stages handy.


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a large swimming pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas.

After making your way through the stairways, signs, and fences you will finally be out of the urbanization and into the forest. The path is now dirt and rocks for the remainder of the journey and begins by winding through some thick scrub and bushes. The backdrop is quite nice with residential highrises creating a wall behind a cement soccer field in the foreground.

The climb in this early section is quite steep and slippery but nothing too crazy. It is shortlived and only lasts for 5-10 minutes before you reach the first summit. The trail is not dangerous but some may find the rocks and slippery, dusty surface hard to manage. I imagine it is quite slippery in the rainy season. At the summit, you have a pretty good view all the way out to Ap Lei Pai and to the Ocean Park on your left.

From here you now need to descend down the slippery slope to the sandbar, which connects Ap Lei Pai to the mainland. I don’t think it ever gets fully submerged unless the tide is really high but it is best not to visit at high-tide if you are unsure.

This part of the trail is very steep in parts and there is a long rope installed. It can be helpful to steady your descent but it isn’t necessary and I didn’t use it at all. On the way back up it can help you climb the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, you will reach the sandbar leading you to Ap Lei Pai. The trail now becomes thick in scrub again but it’s quite unique to cross over to what feels like an island even though you are still connected to the mainland. I really enjoyed this part of the trail as it felt a bit more adventurous.

The trail continues on for a few hundred meters all the way to the far side of the hill. This is where you will find the small Mount Johnston Lighthouse. It’s just a little structure and more of a marker than a beautiful, coastal lighthouse. It was a pretty area of coastline so we set off to explore around the rocks and see what we could find.

About 100-meters to the right of the lighthouse we found a little tide-pool. It was a hot day and the water was looking enticing so we stripped down and decided to go for a swim. The water in the tide pool wasn’t too deep but just deep enough for a little cliff jump off the side.

After the rock pool, we packed up and made our way back. The big hill with the rope seems to go on forever when you return and is a real quad-burner. I suggest doing this hike in the morning and also doing it on a sunny day to make the most of the turquoise water. If it’s hot enough a refreshing swim at the midway point will be a perfect reward for your efforts.


Ap Lei Chau, also known as Aberdeen Island, is located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island. Here are some interesting facts about this island:

  1. One of the Most Densely Populated Islands: Ap Lei Chau is renowned for being one of the most densely populated islands in the world. Despite its small size of 1.30 square kilometers, it has a population of approximately 86,782 people (as per 2021 figures).
  2. Connected by Bridge: Ap Lei Chau is connected to the southern part of Hong Kong Island by the Ap Lei Chau Bridge, facilitating easy access for both locals and tourists.
  3. Rich in History: This island used to be a fishing village and remnants of this can still be seen today at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters near Ap Lei Chau.
  4. Home to a Huge Furniture Market: Ap Lei Chau is famous for its Horizon Plaza – a former industrial building turned shopping complex where you can find a massive furniture and fashion outlet that houses brands from all over the world.
  5. Religious Sites: Ap Lei Chau is home to the Hung Shing Temple, which is a Grade II historic building. The temple is dedicated to Hung Shing, a deity worshipped by fishermen and people whose livelihoods depend on the sea.
  6. Public Transportation: The MTR South Island Line, which was completed in 2016, connects Ap Lei Chau with the rest of Hong Kong, making the island more accessible to both residents and visitors.
  7. Natural Attractions: The Ap Lei Chau Park and Aberdeen Promenade provide open space and recreational facilities, offering stunning views of the surrounding areas. The Ap Lei Chau Wind Tower Park is another notable spot.
  8. Culinary Scene: Ap Lei Chau offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Chinese cuisine to Western food, reflecting the city’s diverse culinary scene.
  9. Recreational Activities: The Aberdeen Marina Club on Ap Lei Chau is a popular spot for boating and other recreational activities, adding to the island’s appeal as a residential and leisure destination.
  10. Public Housing: Ap Lei Chau is known for its public housing estates, including Ap Lei Chau Estate, Ap Lei Chau Lower Estate, and Ap Lei Chau Main Street Estate. These estates house the majority of the island’s residents.


a person standing on top of a cliff overlooking a city.

jp baria

Sunday 12th of September 2021

is there a ferry going back to aberdeen from johnston lighthouse


Friday 15th of January 2021

Very nice and detailed with wonderful pictures. Going for the sunrise hike.


Saturday 16th of January 2021

Thanks so much!

Shula Ventura

Saturday 26th of December 2020

I'm on my way to hike here today and so far this is the simplest and clearest description I can find. Thanks!


Saturday 26th of December 2020



Saturday 10th of October 2020

Hi Jackson,

My friend and I did this hike today and we both felt that your review of the hike undersells how treacherous the hike really is. My friend and I are both fit and hike often but felt that this was, by no means, an "easy" hike. At one point, we watched a man slip and fall down one of the exposed, steep parts and there was nothing to stop him from tumbling; he could have been badly hurt. And it is also worth mentioning that the hike is completely exposed with minimal respite from the sun. I would describe the hike as technical, dangerous, exposed, and only for seasoned hikers who are fit. It might also be worth mentioning that if people do not desire to ascend/descend the most dangerous parts on the way back, they can flag a sampan at the beach and be dropped near the MTR in Aberdeen Harbour.

Thanks for your post! I hope my comment is well received as it is meant to elevate the preparation and safety of hikers who read your blog and are enticed by the views and description offered.

Many thanks, Laura (& Josie)


Saturday 10th of October 2020

Hey Laura, always interested to hear feedback. Hard to give 'relative' difficulty out that's why I include incline and distance so people can relate those figures to hikes they have previously done. This hike was super easy to reach the summit from the road at the beginning and then you just have 100m or so of descent down a gravel path. There's a rope there to help you but we didn't use it as I stated because it wasn't needed. There's nothing else difficult about this trail that needs to be mentioned. Things like being out in the sun are just part of hiking and nature that hikers need to consider on all trails as they do wind, rain, cold etc. To call this hike treacherous is pretty bizarre. It's not even 5-kilometers long and there were several elderly people coming down the steep section of the path when I did the hike. Again, it's hard for me to accurately describe difficult for beginners and extreme alpinists all in one sentence but I feel the details in this blog post accurately represent the hike. In addition, the photos there show you exactly how it is. I can't make that up :)

James Dean

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Very nice and far more accurate information and description of the trails and destination than anything else I've read before making the journey to Ap Lei Pai myself. Your pictures are also quite nice.


Sunday 30th of August 2020

Thanks. Loved that hike and the little rockpool. Glad you enjoyed. Let me know if you do any more of the hikes with my guide :)