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Explore Lamma Island

 2017-09-04    ThomasIronmonk    Tips    Hong Kong    275  

There are a whopping 261 islands administered by Hong Kong, some no more than a rocky outcropping, while at the other end of the scale Lantau is the largest island with 141 kilometers squared.

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Photo: Expat Living

But nowhere offshore enchants like Lamma: From a traditional Chinese fishing village to a laid-back multicultural community to verdant nature, Lamma’s unique blend of Western hippies and Cantonese islanders creates an atmosphere unmatched elsewhere in the SAR… Or perhaps anywhere. Indeed if the steely skyscrapers and tarmac tracks coating Hong Kong Island have you wanting to hug the nearest tree, your escape is just 20min away by ferry to either Sok Kwn Wan (and the hikes around Mount Stenhouse) or Yung Shue Wan, where the cafes and bars are located. 80% of Hong Kong is, in fact, carpeted in greenery, and car-free Lamma is exemplary of this remarkable statistic. So if you decide to boat out of central, here is what you can expect from Hong Kong’s finest hidden treasure.

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Photo: christl.hk

Sok Kwn Wan

This is the village at the quieter end of the island with a population of just over 300 souls. Sok Kwu Wan was once the largest fish-farming center in all of Hong Kong, and you can still see the junks traversing the bay between the many floating fish farm rafts. The waterfront here is also home to several seafood restaurants where you can sit out in the open, enjoy the views from the lively harbor and dine on a fresh catch. The westerners are decidedly less numerous here, as are their bars, thus conjuring a deeper sense of authenticity. As an bonus if you ride the ferry here you can embark on some of the best hikes on the island.

Yung Shue Wan

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Photo: Mapio

Lamma Island’s main village is Yung Shue Wan, a small community with a surprisingly large amount of bars, restaurants, and shops selling tourist knickknacks and hippie paraphernalia. It’s great place to lose a few hours, particularly at night when British style bars bustle with boozy expats, particularly in The Island Bar or The Blue Goose Tavern. Alternatively, during the day there are some lovely vegan cafes to hang out in and enjoy some greens, notably The Bookworm. Many folks come here, not for tofu, but to enjoy the seafood for which the island is renowned. Most of the Lamma Island seafood restaurants are cluttered along the seafront in town. In general, you will find an English menu, or just pick and point from the boxes of fresh fish and crustaceans stationed outside each restaurant. Quality is so high on Lamma, and Man Fung Seafood Restaurant on the main street is a notable favorite.

Hiking

The trail is known locally as the "Lamma Island Family Walk" is a great way to see the Island and is one of Hong Kong’s most loved trails. You can go from north to south or vice versa, but most walk upwards from Sok Kwn Wan so they can finish near a Yung Shue Wan where a fresh beer awaits. It is a gentle hike, and relatively easy as the route is paved and well-marked, with refreshment stops and many resting points along the way the way. En route you’ll pass through surprisingly diverse terrain: rich subtropical vegetation, little temples, pavilions, villages and hidden coves. The trail is most enjoyable during the cooler months, but in the summer you can hike down one-third of the way to Hung Shing Ye Beach for a dip.

The Beaches

There are many small coves where you could take a tip should you feel inclined. But there are two notable beaches where people congregate to swim and surf. Nearest Yung Shue Wan is Hung Shing Ye Beach, which is also the most commercialized. There are lifeguards on duty, changing rooms, a volleyball net, ice cream stalls, showers, lockers and other amenities. However, it generally feels quite a low key, there are no towering resorts, and thus it's not a bad place to bake for an afternoon. Lo So Shing Beach down the coast, with a backdrop of untouched Lamma Island hillsides, is closer to Sok Kwu Wan and is considerably less frequented by the bucket and spade bearing beach hounds.

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