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Uniquely HK

Feature Story

Hong Kong’s Beautiful Outlying Islands

More than just a global metropolitan city with all the vibrancy and buzz you would expect, Hong Kong is increasingly known as a favourite outdoor destination, with more and more visitors coming primarily to explore the diverse geography of the region. The outlying islands of Hong Kong, of which there are around 260, are a key part of Hong Kong’s outdoor scene. 

While many of these islands are hard to access, those within reach form an eclectic selection of enchanting destinations that are well worth visiting, offering stunning topography, pristine beaches, enchanting villages, picturesque hiking trails, cool rock formations and good seafood restaurants, with each packing its own charm and character.

Here is our pick of the eight best islands to visit, with most reachable from the Central Ferry Piers. Enjoy and be sure to take photos galore. 

Lamma Island: Hong Kong’s third-largest island is home to several sleepy villages and an enclave for Western expats, who relish the slower pace of life here. It’s also where Hong Kong’s movie icon Chow Yun Fat grew up. For a scenery-laden route, we suggest you take a ferry from Central to Yung Shue Wan village, walk through the village then follow the hiking trail to Sok Kwu Wan. You will pass by a popular stand selling bean curd pudding, a favourite Hong Kong dessert that you must try. You’ll also pass by Hung Shing Yeh Beach, a pretty sandy beach worth lingering at before hiking up a modest hill. The walk up to the ridge offers a panoramic view of the island and the power plant beyond. Descending the hill, you’ll pass by some rustic villages, mangroves and a Tin Hau Temple before arriving at Sok Kwu Wan where a row of seafood restaurants awaits you. Cap your day with a yummy live-catch seafood meal before taking the ferry back to Central from the adjacent pier. Central Ferry Pier No. 4. 

Cheung Chau: This island is a weekend favourite for locals and visitors alike, so it can get quite busy. There is a small but busy fishing harbour and a lively village with shops lining the waterfront promenade and the narrow ‘roads’ behind, all of which are well worth exploring for souvenirs and a slice of local life. There are bikes for hire to help you go a little further. Temple hopping is also popular as the island is home to several, including the Pak Tai Temple, site of the famous Cheung Chau Bun Festival. The Tung Wan Beach not far away is ideal for swimming. Hiking trails abound, including one to explore the famous Cheung Po Tsai Pirates’ cave and others offering scenic vantage points. Central Ferry Pier No. 6. 

Lantau – South Lantau: Despite substantial development on North Lantau in the last 25 years, Hong Kong’s largest island remains largely undeveloped. On the other side of its mountainous terrain, enticing South Lantau will deliver a most pleasant and relaxing day visiting quiet towns, long sandy beaches, and authentic fishing villages. 

Take the ferry from Central to Mui Wo, a sleepy town that is perfect for riding around by bike. Or take a bus to any or several of the popular beaches. Pui O, a westward facing beach known for its smooth sand and its nearby quaint village, is perfect to watch a lazy sunset over chilled drinks. Also excellent are the long stretches of sand at the Upper and Lower Cheung Sha Beaches which offer smooth sands and calm waters for swimming, or even digging your own clams. It is easy to spend a leisurely afternoon sipping cool drinks at one of the beachside restaurants. 

Tai O village at the southwestern end is another popular destination. One of Hong Kong’s oldest fishing villages remains essentially as it has been for over a century, with many houses built on stilts over water and where fishing is still a way of life. Central Ferry Pier No. 5 to Mui Wo. 

Peng Chau: Less seen by tourists than the others, Peng Chau is a small quaint island just off east Lantau, not far from Discovery Bay. Several thousand people live here – either born of multiple local generations, or drawn to its unhurried lifestyle and relative isolation. It won’t take you long before you feel the same vibes after you reach the island. There is a heritage trail worth following (an easy hike) and a modest scamper up to the highest point, Finger Point, rewards you with a 360-degree view of Lantau, Hong Kong Island and the South China Sea. You can unwind and enjoy a simple but delicious seafood meal at the local restaurant on the way back. Central Pier Number 5. 

 

Po Toi: Switching to the east and a favourite and picturesque destination for local “junk trips”, Po Toi offers primitive but navigable hiking trails leading to panoramic views of the sea and neighbouring islands, cliffs and rocks and spectacular rock formations along the rocky shore. There are ferries available from Aberdeen and Stanley, mostly on weekends and public holidays. A seafood restaurant awaits the hungry after a day’s adventure. Aberdeen Pier on Aberdeen Praya Road. 

Tung Lung Chau: This pristine island lying just off the Clearwater Bay Peninsula in Sai Kung District is a real hidden gem. Reachable only on weekends and public holidays, Tung Lung Island is famous for rock climbing along its north eastern coastline. There is an old abandoned fort with a camp site nearby. A scenic footpath offers unimpeded views of the sea and the peninsula across. It won’t take long before you are disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the city just minutes away. Catch the ferry at Sai Wan Ho at the pier inside the Aldrich Bay Typhoon Shelter near Grand Promenade or at Sam Ka Tsuen Ferry Pier in Lei Yue Mun. 

Tung Ping Chau. A small island in the easternmost part of Hong Kong, Tung Ping Chau is part of the Hong Kong Global Geopark and the territory’s only island comprised of sedimentary rocks – the rest of Hong Kong’s geology deriving from an ancient volcano. Accessible by ferries on weekends from Ma Liu Shui in the New Territories, the island is a favourite destination for locals. A once-thriving costal fishing village has bequeathed abandoned buildings and heritage temples. Stunning rock formations including spectacular cliffs and rare wave-cut rock platforms are the big attractions.

 

Tap Mun (Grass Island): If you want to visit a totally unspoilt island and fishing village, this small island off the Sai Kung Peninsula is out of the way but well worth a visit. As you step off the boat, you can almost feel time slowing down as Tap Mun’s traditional fishing village still ticks to the old rhythms of life. It’s an easy one-hour walk around the island. You’ll see cows still roaming the fields and little fishing boats bobbing nearby. There are a few stores and restaurants: be sure to try the fried rice with local sea urchin roe. To get there, either take a ferry from Ma Liu Shui or catch a bus from Sai Kung town to Wong Shek Pier for the 30-minute kaito ferry ride to the island. 

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