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Island Hopping, Hong Kong Style

 2017-01-25    ThomasIronmonk    Activities    Hong Kong    1881  

Hong Kong, as those that know a bit of regional history can testify, is the island that was ceded to the British after the first Opium War during the Qing Dynasty. Yes, the outcropping Lord Palmerton called a “barren rock,” transformed into a veritable Chinese Manhattan. What we commonly dub Kong Kong actually encompasses more than the island of its namesake. In fact, the SAR includes Kowloon and the New Territories. And it is off the later that we find most of the territory’s outlying islands. Little known about 263 islands are peppering the waters at the mouth of the Pearl River.

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Many of these islets are mere rocks, or due to poor transport links, remain largely undeveloped, home to a few lowly fishermen and women. Some, however, are easily accessible via ferry and offer a taste of tradition and nature mostly lost in the high-rise forests of Central and Kowloon Tong.

Peng Chau

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Source: Hong Kong Extras

Peng Chau claims to have the lowest crime rate in Hong Kong, not the most difficult of feats given its permanent population of 5,000 is surrounded by water. But its quiet isolation is Peng Chau’s charm, a well-earned respite from the clamor of Hong Kong city life. There is little tourist industry to speak of. Finger Hill is the island’s highest point and offers a fun hike. From ninety-five meters, views of neighboring Lantau, as well as Hong Kong Island in the distance, are staggering. At sea level, the beach at Tung Wan is perfect for a secluded dip. The island is also peppered with shrines venerating Tin Hau, Goddess of Sea. You’ll find a few restaurants and bars should you need refreshments but nothing too touristy.

Lamma Island

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From the sleepy fishing hamlet of Sok Kwu Wan, a wonderful footpath winds its way across the island, past secluded beaches, and through quaint villages. North of the most commercialized beach, Hung Shing Ye, you’ll come to another ferry port, Yung Shue Wan. Here a community of left field expatriates lives alongside local fishers. They’re a hospitable bunch, keen to show off their alternative way of life and enjoy a few hearty drinks with visitors to the island in the various western-style pubs established about town. Veggie restaurants and shops are selling hippie-garb abound, making Yung Shue Wan a magnet for those eagerly escaping the mercantile madness in places like Mong Kok.

Cheung Chau

 

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Source: Coconuts Media

Cheung Chau, the Long Island is more Dumbbell shaped: the north and south are both granite hills bound together by a flat and narrow center where most houses are located in Cheung Chau Wan. The village is home to a deep-sea fishing fleet, so it’s not surprising that the harbor is crammed with seafood restaurants. From the outset, visitors are greeted by rows of stalls selling shell necklaces and dried fish. But a short walk in any direction sees the crowds swiftly dissipate. Bicycles are available to hire and provide an excellent means to get about. Highlights include some of the historic temples scattered about the island, including Pak Tai Temple, one of the oldest Taoist shrines in Hong Kong. Tung Wan Beach is ideal for windsurfing and home of 1996 Olympic gold medal winner, Lee Lai-shan. No bout of sightseeing in Cheung Chau would be complete without snapping some of the island’s oddly shaped rocks. The Rock of the Ringing Bell and Human Head Rock demand a fair old trek along the coastal path, but stunning sea views make the effort worthwhile. Additionally. Cheung Chau’s east coast is also home to a three-thousand-year-old, megalithic carved rock, which was made a protected monument of Hong Kong in 1982.

Ferry Info

You can get to all three islands from ferry piers in Central. For Lamma, there are two ferry services at Pier 4. Your best bet is to schedule yourself on the less frequent boat to Sok Kwu Wan, situated on the Lamma’s southeast coast and then travel back from Yung Shue Wan. Boats take around twenty minutes. The ferry from Central to Cheung Chau Wan goes from Pier 5 while Pier 6 caters for Lantau and Peng Chau Island. Make sure you check the latest travel updates before setting out. 


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