Lighthouses of China: Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a territory on the south coast of China, surrounded by Guangdong province. The territory includes Hong Kong Island, many surrounding islands, and a section of the nearby mainland. British troops occupied Hong Kong Island in 1841, and the island was ceded to Britain the following year. Additional territory was ceded in 1860, and in 1898 the British obtained a 99-year lease on the remaining parts of the territory. Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control in 1997, when that 99-year lease expired.

Since 1997, Hong Kong has been a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, with an autonomous government. Although it is definitely part of China, Hong Kong functions in many respects as if it were a separate country. A financial center and one of the world's great ports, Hong Kong has a population of approximately 7 million.

Aids to navigation in Hong Kong are maintained by the Hong Kong SAR Marine Department. The five historic lighthouses are well known, but not much is known about smaller lights.

In the Yue (Cantonese) dialect spoken in Hong Kong, tsui is a cape, chau is an island, and kong is a harbor ("Hong Kong" means "Fragrant Harbor"). Due to competing systems for transliterating Chinese and related dialects into Latin characters, there are always several possible spellings for the names of places in China.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. HK numbers are the SAR Marine Department's light list numbers; these numbers are painted or displayed on the light towers, as seen in the Waglan Island photo at right. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. NGA numbers are from NGA Publication 112.The Maritime Department does not publish its list of lights.

General Sources
Lighthouses in Hong Kong
Information on several of the historic lighthouses provided by Wikipedia.
Lighthouses in Hong Kong
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Lighthouses of Hong Kong
This blog posting (in Chinese) includes photos of the major lighthouses.
Hong Kong's Lighthouses and the Men Who Manned Them
Caution: large pdf file. This 40-page article by Louis Ha and Dan Waters (in English) provides interesting background on the early lighthouses of Hong Kong. Posted by the Hong Kong University Library.
Declared Monuments in Hong Kong
Information on historic sites, including lighthouses, posted by the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Hong Kong Maritime Lighthouses
A collection of photos posted on Picasaweb.
Lights of Hong Kong
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.
Leuchttürme Chinas auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Waglan Light
Waglan Island Light, May 2009
Hong Kong Nautical Institute photo

Mirs Bay Lighthouses
Note: Mirs Bay (known as Tai Ping Wan or Dapeng Wan in Chinese) is an roughly circular embayment on the northeast side of Hong Kong. The entire bay is within the borders of the Special Administrative Region.
Shek Ngau Chau (1)
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) round unpainted white concrete tower rising from a square 1-story unpainted white concrete equipment building. Chun-Kit Chui has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the west side of an islet in the center of Mirs Bay. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
Shek Ngau Chau (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 4 s. 5 m (17 ft) square unpainted white concrete building with a short post light centered on the roof. A view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located atop the islet of Shek Ngau Chau. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-103; Admiralty F3578.3; NGA 19292.
Wong Mau Chau (South Gau, Huangmao Zhou)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); red flash every 5 s. 5 m (17 ft) square unpainted white concrete building with a short post light centered on the roof. Alex Lau has a view from the mainland, and Google has a satellite view. Located on an islet off the Sai Kung East Country Park. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-118; Admiralty F3578.4; NGA 19296.
Fan Tsang Chau (Conic Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 10 m (33 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 7 m (23 ft) round concrete tower mounted on a square concrete base. Entire lighthouse is unpainted white concrete. A photo and a second photo are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Fan Tsang Chau is a steep island just off the southeastern tip of the Sai Kung Peninsula. Located on the northern tip of the island, marking the narrow passage between the island and the mainland. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-128; Admiralty F3580.95; NGA 19300.
Pak Kwo Chau (North Ninepin Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); flash every 10 s, white or red depending on direction. 5 m (17 ft) square unpainted white concrete building with a short post light centered on the roof. A closeup and a view from the sea are available, and Google has a satellite view. Ninepin Island seems to have gotten its name from its shape. Located at the northeastern end of the island, about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of Waglan Island. Accessible only by boat; there is a pier and a trail to the lighthouse, and it appears that many people visit the site. Site open, tower closed. HK-200; Admiralty F3575.6; NGA 19334.

Eastern Entrance Lighthouses
* A Kung Ngam (Eastern Fairway)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) concrete tripod mounted on a square 1-story concrete equipment building. Entire lighthouse painted red. Lorien Ali's photo is at right, Bronney Hui has a photo, a good closeup is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a promontory at the northeast corner of Hong Kong Island, marking a narrow passage around the island. Site open, tower closed. HK-089; Admiralty F3570; NGA 19370.
* Hak Kok Tau (Heijiao Tou, Cape Collinson) (3?)
Date unknown (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 50 m (164 ft); two flashes every 10 s, white or red depending on direction. The light is mounted on a square equipment room atop a 2-story building. A closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. One of the three earliest British light stations of Hong Kong. Located on a promontory at the eastern end of Hong Kong Island. Accessible by a short hike from Siu Sai Wan Park, but the lighthouse itself is fenced. ARLHS HOK-007; HK-090; Admiralty F3572; NGA 19355.
Tai Long Pai (Dalang Pai, Tathong Rock)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); four red flashes every 15 s. 13 m (43 ft) concrete tripod tower. A photo is available, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a rock in the Tathong (Tai Long) Channel about 3 km (2 mi) north of Cape D'Aguilar. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-094; Admiralty F3575.4; NGA 19349.
Lam Tong Mei (Tathong Point, Nam Tong Mei, Tung Lung Chau) (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1921). Active; focal plane 56 m (184 ft); three flashes every 10 s. 2 m (7 ft) post light standing beside a 1-story building. Johnny Lo has a photo, a very distant view is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. The present station is built atop a former Japanese gun emplacement. Located on Tathong Point at the southern tip of Tung Lung Chau, marking the east side of the entrance to the Tathong Channel. Site and tower closed. HK-092; Admiralty F3574; NGA 19342.
A Kung Ngam Light
A Kung Ngam (Eastern Fairway) Light, August 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Lorien Ali (no longer online)
* Cape D'Aguilar (Hok Tsui)
1875. Reactivated (inactive 1896-1975); focal plane 60 m (197 ft); white flash every 15 s. 9.7 m (32 ft) round stone tower with gallery, painted white. The lantern has been removed, and the light is shown from a short post. Nearby buildings appear to be of modern origin; one of them is the Hong Kong University Institute of Marine Sciences. A photo is at right, a 2008 photo is available, Wikimedia has a view of the station, and Google has a satellite view. This is Hong Kong's oldest lighthouse. It became redundant after the Waglan Island lighthouse was placed in operation in 1893, but it was restored and reactivated in 1975 (its 100th anniversary). The original lantern and first-order lens were removed and installed on the Green Island lighthouse in 1905. The station was recognized as a Hong Kong Declared Monument in 2006. Cape D'Aguilar is the extreme southeastern tip of Hong Kong Island. Located at the end of Cape D'Aguilar Road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS HOK-001; HK-158; Admiralty F3576; NGA 19330.
Lo Chau (Luo Zhou, Beaufort Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); flash every 3 s, white or red depending on direction. 8 m (26 ft) round white concrete post with gallery, mounted on a concrete base. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the northwestern tip of Lo Chau (Beaufort Island), a steep-sided island between Po Toi and Cape D'Aguilar. Site status unknown; access appears difficult. HK-125; Admiralty F3576.8; NGA 19415.
* Po Toi (Poi Toi) Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 67 m (220 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) square 1-story masonry or concrete equipment building with gallery, mounted on a stepped platform. Lighthouse painted white. Luica Mak has a photo, Wikimedia has a 2010 photo, another photo and a closeup are available, and Google has a satellite view. Po Toi is an island about 5 km (3 mi) due south of Cape D'Aguilar. The island is accessible by passenger ferry and is popular with hikers and birders. The light is accessible by a hiking trail, although many steps are required to climb to the lighthouse. Located on the southern tip of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS HOK-006; HK-126; Admiralty F3576.6; NGA 19405.
Cape D'Aguilar Light
Cape D'Aguilar (Hok Tsui) Light
Hong Kong Heritage Program photo
Waglan Island (Wang Lan To)
1893. Active; focal plane 69 m (226 ft); two white flashes every 20 s. 16 m (52 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with a red horizontal band under the gallery. Fog horn (two blasts every 60 s). Keeper's house and numerous other station buildings; the station has had a number of uses over the years and is the site of meteorological observations today. A photo appears at the top of this page, Felix Fung has a 2007 photo, the lighthouse is seen behind other buildings in Kent Chan's photo, the Hong Kong Nautical Institute has a historical account with photos, Andie Wong has a view from the sea, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Forand has a different postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is a landfall light for vessels arriving in Hong Kong from the east. Ordered by Chinese authorities and prefabricated in France by Barbier, Bénard et Turenne, the lighthouse was transferred to British control in 1901. The light station was heavily damaged during World War II, but the lighthouse survived intact. The station was recognized as a Hong Kong Declared Monument in 2000. In 2009, the 4th order clamshell Fresnel lens used in the lighthouse after World War II was donated for display at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Waglan Island is a rocky ridge breaking the sea about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of Cape D'Aguilar. Located at the highest point of the island, near the southwest end. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS HOK-005; HK-102; Admiralty F3578; NGA 19326.

Western Entrance Lighthouses
Ngan Chau (Round Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); three flashes, white, red and white, every 10 s. 4 m (13 ft) square cylindrical white concrete tower. A view from the sea and a second view are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Ngan Chau is an island off the south coast of Hong Kong Island. Located on a huge rock at the southern end of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. HK-086; Admiralty F3577.1; NGA 19420.
Yuen Kok (Lamma Island, Pok Liu Chau)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 5 s. 4 m (13 ft) square cylindrical white concrete tower. A view from the sea is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Lamma Island (Pok Liu Chau) is an inhabited island, 7 km (4.3 mi) long, southwest of Hing Kong Island. Located on a steep bluff at the southern end of the island. Site status unknown. Admiralty F3577.2; NGA 19412.
Fo Yeuk Chau (Magazine Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 1.5 s. 11 m (36 ft) white concrete post light mounted on a round concrete base. A closeup, a second closeup, and a view from the harbor are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the west end of a small island off the southwest coast of Hong Kong Island. There should be a view of this light from the Wah Fu neighborhood to the north. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-101; Admiralty F3577.6; NGA 19437.
* Green Island (Tsing Chau) (1)
1875. Inactive since 1905. 12 m (39 ft) round granite tower with gallery, lantern removed. The lighthouse is unpainted. A photo of both towers is at right, and a closeup of this tower (next to last photo on the page) and another closeup of both towers are available. Originally equipped with a 4th order lens, the lighthouse was replaced because it was too small to carry the first-order lens that was ordered to be transferred from Cape D'Aguilar in 1905.
* Green Island (Tsing Chau) (2)
1905 (station established 1875). Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); white flash every 10 s. 17.5 m (58 ft) round granite tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. 1st order Fresnel lens in use. The keeper's house and other light station buildings are leased to to the Wu Oi Christian Centre as a youth drug rehabiliation center. A photo is at right, David Crawford has a 2008 photo, a closeup is available, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was built to carry the 1st order lens made available when the Cape D'Aguilar lighthouse was replaced by the Waglan Island lighthouse. The station was recognized as a Hong Kong Declared Monument in 2008. Located at the southwest point of Green Island, a small island off the west end of Hong Kong Island. Accessible only by boat; there are views from various ferries in Hong Kong Harbour. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS HOK-002; HK-069; Admiralty F3538; NGA 19460.
Green Island Light
Green Island (Tsing Chau) Light, June 2008
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Minghong

Kowloon (Mainland) Lighthouses
Gemini Point (Jimini Jiao, Ma Wan Fairway)
Date unknown (1997?). Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white, red, or green light, depending on direction, visible only along the Ma Wan Channel. Light mounted on the roof of a white harbor control building. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This light is shown intermittantly for the benefit of large vessels passing through the narrow channel under the Tsing Ma Bridge, which carries the Lantau Link expressway across the harbor. Located on a promontory on the north side of the harbor. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F3532.2; NGA 19512.
Sha Chau
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); four white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round white concrete tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a small island marking the western entrance to the channel between the mainland and Lantau Island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F3525.5; NGA 19726.
Lung Kwu Chau
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 53.5 m (175 ft); white flash every 5 s. 4 m (13 ft) square cylindrical white concrete tower. L.W. Lau has a photo, a second photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Lung Kwu Chau is an island in the Zhujiang estuary about 5 km (3 mi) southwest of Lan Kok Tsui (next entry). Located on heights at the northwestern end of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. HK-058; Admiralty F3526; NGA 19742.
Lan Kok Tsui (Black Point)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 131 m (430 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square cylindrical skeletal communications tower, apparently mounted on a concrete base. A photo and a distant view are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view of the station. Located atop a ridge at the westernmost tip of the Hong Kong mainland, near Lung Kwu Tan. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F3526.2; NGA 19746.

Lantau Area Lighthouses
Tang Lung Chau (Kap Sing)
1912. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); white flash every 5 s. 12 m (39 ft) square steel skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted white. A photo is at right, a closeup is available, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. This lighthouse guides vessels in Ma Wan, the bay separating Lantau Island and the mainland. The station was recognized as a Hong Kong Declared Monument in 2000. Tang Lung Chau is a small island off the east end of Lantau. Located on the highest point of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS HOK-004; Admiralty F3530.6; NGA 19520.
Kau Yi Chau
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); two flashes every 6 s, white or red depending on direction. 9 m (30 ft) octagonal concrete tower supported by a concrete post. Entire lighthouse is white. A closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northeastern corner of Kau Yi Chau, a small island about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) west of Green Island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. HK-081; Admiralty F3537.6; NGA 19504.
Fan Lau (Wong Fa Pai, Lantau Island)
Date unknown (station established before 1920). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) square cylindrical masonry tower with lantern and gallery. The tower appears to be unpainted white masonry; lantern painted white. The Marine Department has a small photo, a closeup and a view of the lantern are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southwestern tip of Lantau Island. The lighthouse is not far from the ruins of the early 18th century Fan Lau Fort; tours to that area are available. Site open but not so easy to reach, tower closed. HK-056; Admiralty F3524; NGA 19588.
Tang Lung Chau Light
Tang Lung Chau (Kap Sing) Light
Hong Kong Heritage Program photo

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Tsim Sha Tsui (Chinsalchui, Blackhead Point, Signal Hill) (1915-around 1970), Kowloon. This was a 15.5 m (51 ft) square brick tower attached to a keeper's house. Forand has a postcard view, and a 1936 photo, a 1935 view, and a 1960s view are available. The lighthouse was close to a signal tower that survives and has been restored, but Wikipedia's view confirms that the lighthouse has disappeared.

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Disney Pier (?). This replica of an American-style lighthouse stands on the pier at Hong Kong's Disneyland Resort in Lantau. It may well be active, but it is not listed as an aid to navigation. Google has a satellite view.
  • Kowloon Clock Tower (1915). This 44 m (144 ft) masonry clock tower was formerly part of the Hong Kong station of the Hong Kong-Canton Railway. Rendy Chen has a 2008 photo, P. Clarke Thomas has a closeup photo, and Google has a satellite view. The rest of the train station was demolished in 1978, but the clock tower was restored and has remained a traditional and familiar landmark of the Kowloon waterfront. Although it has been described as a lighthouse, there is no evidence that the tower ever carried a navigation light. (The confusion may have arisen because the tower was built in the same year as the nearby Tsim Sha Tsui lighthouse.)

Adjoining pages: East: Eastern Guangdong | West: Macau, Central Guangdong

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Posted November 10, 2008. Checked and revised September 9, 2013. Lighthouses: 25. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.