Ma Shi Chau: an outdoor geological classroom.
This tour is suitable for children of age 4 and up.
The Ma Shi Chau peninsula, situated in Tolo Harbour, is one of Hong Kong's special geological sites.
This area is sometimes dubbed an outdoor geological classroom, for the many different geological features
that are on display here. The area is made up of sedimentary rocks formed in the Permian, some 280 million
years ago, and belong to the Tolo Harbour Formation.
This tour involves less than 1 km walk within the village, and about 2 km walk on Ma Shi Chau. The trail here
is partly dirt trail, but we'll also be walking on the barren rocks. Proper walking shoes are recommended: no
heels or open toes. The trail is following the shoreline so almost no height differences.
Besides being educational, the area also has outstanding natural beauty. The rocks themselves have colours
that range from pale grey to yellow, red and black, and all is set against the wonderful backdrop of
The tour starts at Sam Mun Tsai fisherman's village (the green map marker). We'll take a walk through the village,
to catch a glimpse of life of the fishermen, and to check out the local heritage exhibition and the geoheritage centre
of the village (near map marker 1).
After that we board a speed boat to take us to Ma Shi Chau to start our walk. We're dropped off at the
tombolo (map marker 2) - a natural land bridge connecting Ma Shi Chau to Yim Tin Tsai, which has grown so large that it
only floods when the tide gets really high. Here is where we start following the nature trail to the other
end of Ma Shi Chau to have a look at the rocks here. The most interesting features of these rocks include
layers and folds, faults, beads-on-a-string, wave-cut platforms, wuartz veins (looking like molten cheese)
and Lung Lok Shui - meaning "dragon entering the sea" - a local name for a feature where a ridge enters
the sea, which looks a bit like the backbone of a dragon sticking out from the ground.
The first major feature we see is the Cheese Rock. This a rock which is filled with thin layers of
quartz. The quartz is harder than the surrounding sandstones, so when the rock weathers, the quartz will
stick out a bit as it weathers slower. This makes the rock look like it has some molten cheese poured
A bit further along the trail is Lung Lok Shui, a dragon entering the water. This feature forms where
there is a particularly hard layer of rock in between the other layers, so when the other layers weather
away this layer will remain and stick out. This is a fairly common feature in sedimentary rocks, where
layers have different composition and different hardness, and there are several such "dragons" in Hong
Many of the rocks are folded, some are faulted (displaced), forming these interesting shapes.
Other odd formations are these "beads on a string". These forms when the layers are still soft,
and when one particularly soft layer is squashed by subsequent layers of sediment. After the rock has
solidified the remains of this squeezed out layer becomes visible as if there are beads on a string.
The tour finishes at the end of the nature trail, which is also the far tip of Ma Shi Chau peninsula (map
marker 3). Here we will again catch a speed boat to take us back to Sam Mun Tsai, where we can take a bus or
minibus back to Tai Po Market.
- 13:30 departure from Tai Po Market MTR station by minibus to Sam Mun Tsai.
- Walk through Sam Mun Tsai village; learn about its history.
- By speed boat to Ma Shi Chau.
- Walk along the shore, learn about the local geology.
- Speed boat transfer back to Sam Mun Tsai, bus or minibus to Tai Po Market MTR.
- About 17:30 return to Tai Po Market MTR station.