Hong Kong's Outlying Islands Weekend Adventures

Posted by rstacey

It’s so easy to sink into expat inertia in Hong Kong working long hours during the week, then trundling up the escalator on Friday evening to meet with friends for a few pints.

Then it’s off to dinner, plenty of wine, followed by a pit stop at another bar before piling into the hottest club.

Saturday involves staggering past the newspaper distributors who are slamming their fat bundles of papers onto the curb side as dawn breaks and you flag a cab home.

Saturday ‘morning’ is often Saturday late afternoon, or evening for some, as you emerge from your lair, tentatively open the curtains to see if it’s still daytime and prepare to rinse and repeat.

Depending on your perspective, these weekends out on the piss are either the greatest times of your life, or a complete and utter waste of precious time that could have been spent chasing healthy pursuits and exploring Hong Kong.

If the latter, please read on. If the former, please read on as I might inadvertently inspire you to change your mind.

I’ve pulled together a short list of some of the best weekend adventures from the hundreds of islands that comprise the territory of Hong Kong.

From sandy beaches and hiking trails, to interesting local cultures and restaurants, each of these destinations is unique and worth a visit.

 
Cheung Chau
 
The convenience of a direct ferry from Central has made this bustling, densely populated island a favourite with expats for many years. Grab lunch at one of the excellent restaurants on the main street, then walk to the Cheung Po Tsai Cave, one of the islands many historic sites that include Chinese temples and monuments. You can observe traditional Chinese cultural performances and parades during the annual Tai Ping Ching Chiu or Bun Festival that takes place in late April or early May. For hikers, there is a route at the southeast end of the island that has incredible coastal views and amazing topography. The trek ends at ‘the Mini Great Wall’
 
Peng Chau
 
Moving on to a more tranquil island destination, Peng Chau, located on the north eastern coast of Lantau Island, is renowned for spectacular sunset views. Peng Chau can take you back in time with many ancient Chinese temples dotting the landscape; access is along a network of walking paths. Be sure to make it to the top of Finger Hill for magnificent views of the Tsing Ma Bridge and coastline.
 
Middle Island
 
If time is of the essence, Middle Island is an excellent choice for a weekend adventure. Just get yourself and your mates to Deep Water Bay, and from there it’s only a few minutes by sampan to a tranquil, sandy beach. Pack a lunch and relax while you watch yachts cruise past. Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club members enjoy access to a restaurant on Middle Island.
 
 
Tap Mun
 
Situated off the coast of Sai Kung Country Park, this small island has traditionally been home to Chinese Hakka and Tanka ethnic groups. Historically it was also a major hub for pirates smuggling goods into Hong Kong. Today it is a quiet getaway where you can pitch a tent and camp, swim and relax. A short stroll takes you to the main village where you can have a look at three 18th century Chinese temples. Or climb one of the many hills on Tap Mun to experience incredible views of the remote coastlines in this part of Hong Kong.
 
Tung Lung Chau
 
This island is a favourite with the expat and local rock-climbing communities in Hong Kong due to the natural rock wall formations in and around Tung Lung Chau in Clearwater Bay. Professional climbers are challenged by many of the walls but there are much easier walks and climbs that are suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness. There is an extensive network of well-marked hiking and walking trails on Tung Lung Chau including some that end in spectacular views of the coastline and mountains.
 
 
Kat O
 
For expats looking for an adventure that is off the beaten path, Kat O, located in the Plover Cove Country Park is a tranquil option that is home to small villages where locals continue to live. You can visit the Kat O UNESCO Geopark to learn about the history of this unique part of Hong Kong. Take a walk around Kat O and you will pass traditional halls, rusting cannons, ancient temples, as well as Chinese pagodas. Kat O is a world away from life in the metropolis of HK island.
 
Yim Tin Tsai
 
This island, mostly deserted, was once home to hundreds of salt farmers who originally hailed from Guangdong province in China. When the salt industry collapsed in the 1990’s most of these villagers departed from Yim Tin Tsai leaving behind a virtual ghost town. Wander around the village and see abandoned homes and other buildings including a Christian chapel. There is a small Hakka restaurant at the pier.
 
 
Sharp Island
 
Just a ten-minute boat ride from Sai Kung pier, this island is a favourite destination for expats and locals who are interested in water sport activities including kayaking and scuba diving. There are some superb sandy beaches that are perfect for catching some rays or relaxing and reading a book.
 
Po Toi
 
This island has no electricity or regular water supply, yet it is only a few kilometres from Hong Kong Island. Home to less than 150 people, Po Toi is a superb option for expats looking to escape the modern world. Take a walk around the island and you will find a range of interesting historical sites including Coffin Rock, Po Toi Lighthouse, Buddha Hand Rock and Mo’s Old House which is rumoured to be haunted.
 
If you have any questions about these destinations or would like to connect with the expat community of Hong Kong to discuss other favourite weekend getaways in and around Hong Kong, please visit our Living in Hong Kong Forum.
 
Keen on visiting one of these outlying islands but your mates are still hitting the clubs and sleeping through the weekend? Find new mates in our Activity Partners Channel.