Ap Lei Chau, or Aberdeen Island, is a small island on the south side of Hong Kong. Covering only 1.3 square kilometers, its summit at Mount Johnston is a busy hiking destination known for expansive views of the surrounding coastline. Further south, connected via a narrow sandbar, is Ap Lei Pai, an even smaller uninhabited island also known as Aberdeen Rock. Over a short distance of about 2 km with varying degrees of difficulty, these two make for a great island-hopping hiking adventure on a sunny afternoon.
Getting to the trailhead is straight-forward. Take public transport (MTR or bus) to Lei Tung station and locate the two yellow shacks behind Lei Tung Estate, and follow water pipe and steps up the slope. The concrete path is soon replaced with a dirt trail that can at times be pretty steep and slippery, so be ready to use your hands to steady your climb. There is also a rope available (though as always, never rely on this for your safety). During the hotter months, bring plenty of drinking water and sunscreen as most of the route is exposed with little to no shade.
Reaching the summit of Mount Johnston at 196 meters, enjoy the view of the surrounding waters and especially the densely built areas of Ap Lei Chau and Aberdeen Harbour further north. To the northeast you can also make out Ocean Park, the city’s second largest amusement park after Hong Kong Disneyland. Look south and you will see Ap Lei Pai, or Aberdeen Rock, linked to the island via a narrow sand bar. Take care in descending the steep incline as the gravel is very loose and slippery; make use of the safety ropes and proceed slowly!
Cross the sandbar and follow the trail to cross Aberdeen Rock. This section is very easy and surprisingly not very busy. Descend on the far side to Johnston Lighthouse for a photo-op and enjoy the vast expanse of ocean in front of you – you’ve reached the most southern part of Hong Kong Island. Those who feel energetic can retrace their route back to the starting point, including the strenuous climb back up Mount Johnston. Alternatively, for about $40 HKD you can hitch a boat ride back to Aberdeen Harbour. Enterprising operators usually do pick-ups at the lighthouse, and the scenic 15-minute journey is a nice way to finish your hike.