Many visitors to Hong Kong focus primarily on the city and its accompanying sights. Nearby Macau receives a lot of love, too.
What often gets left out is Hong Kong's collection of wonderful beaches of pristine sand, quality waves and often sunny climes. Here are our picks for the five best beaches in the city.
Most visitors to Lantau Island aim for the orderly sands of Silvermine Bay, the closest beach to the ferry port at Mui Wo, but better swimming can be had along Lantau's southern coast at Upper and Lower Cheung Sha Beaches. These are the longest stretches of sand in Hong Kong, ringed by peaks and, closer by, South African restaurant The Stoep, and High Tide, a Thai-Chinese eatery where most of the ingredients are grown in its garden. Just beyond Lower Cheung Sha Beach is Tong Fuk, another fine stretch of wild sand and sea edged with rocks.
Pristine sands, decent waves, fresh (and sometimes dangerous) currents, all amid stark beauty and tree-clad outcrops … It's hard to believe you're in Hong Kong at Tai Long Wan. Sharp Peak rises in the distance and several islands can be seen out to sea, but the main attraction here is the big water, drawing overnight campers and surfers most weekends, but mostly deserted during the week.
Be warned: you are not, officially, supposed to swim here. In Hong Kong government-speak, these beaches are not 'gazetted', thus not supervised by lifeguards, but even without getting wet these beaches are special and well worth the trek to reach them. On a good day, one of the four cafes might be open and a surfboard for hire, but bring your own water and take away your rubbish away with you.
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A hidden cove closed to visitors for half the year so that turtles have a chance to nest, access by foot involves an hour or so of walking along the southern side of Lamma Island, but junk trips sometimes moor out in the bay and swimmers can dive in. If you meet anyone, it will be a surprise.
At Turtle Beach itself, a small, curving bay offers little shade but lots of isolation and peace and quiet – rare commodities in Hong Kong. Even if it is turtle nesting season, you can soak in the atmosphere, walk around the turtle-watching cottage, and lie back on ochre-hued rocks over the bay.
Cheung Chau island has at least three beaches – the main Tung Wan (East Bay) Beach is a long stretch of sand marred by cheap, short-stay accommodation (where many young Hong Kong couples go for a bit of intimacy), but at the other extreme is the deserted Italian Beach, or Pak Tso Wan, in a sheltered southwest cove with hidden rocks. In between, wind-whipped Windsurf Beach (Kwun Yam Wan) is the most fun, where a curving sand beach is open at the left for windsurfers and small boats to get in and out – Hong Kong's own and only Olympic gold medallist, Lee Lai-shan (aka San San), honed her windsurfing skills here to win at Atlanta in 1996.
Lamma Island has several hidden and little-known, unsupervised beaches. Hung Shing Yeh is the largest, with changing rooms, rocky areas, volleyball nets and a restaurant and several stands selling beer and ice-cream. As with most Hong Kong beaches, a shark net is hung under an orange line of buoys which has the main benefit of keeping rubbish out and swimmers safely within the marked area – sharks are only rare visitors to Hong Kong. Lo So Shing Beach, with a backdrop of untouched Lamma Island hillsides, is further along the coast towards Sok Kwu Wan, and is considerably less frequented.
This article was written by Vaudine England from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.