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In the past, we’ve referred to Hong Kong as ‘The Asian Manhattan’ and with good reason. This place is BUZZING. Much like its American and English cousins, it’s a city that never sleeps with an exciting new adventure waiting around each and every corner. It’s crucial, therefore, to carve out a bit of time for some zen and hit the beaches. Luckily, Hong Kong offers plentiful opportunity to escape the noise and the hecticness. From crystal waters and sugary sand to turtle-watching, if you don’t check out Hong Kong’s beaches, you’re really missing out.
We’ll just say this now cabs in Hong Kong are super cheap and we hardly ever took public transport when heading to the beaches on Hong Kong Island so just hail a cabbie in his red machine and go!
Repulse Bay (HK Island)
When you just want a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of Central, then it’s worth heading out to the revamped beachside hood of Repulse Bay. Repulse Bay’s popularity is growing rapidly: it’s easy to reach, has a deck of new shops and restaurants and everything is just a few steps from the beach. It’s definitely worth checking out for a long, lazy, relaxing afternoon reconnecting to yourself. Last time we were in town we checked out the Tesla garage and went for a test spin. Media fun and if you’re after some good tasty food then you can’t go wrong with ‘Limewood‘ limewoodhongkong and ‘Classified‘ classifiedhongkong both beach side.
Getting there: Bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D) and alight at Repulse Bay Beach.
Shek O Beach (HK Island)
This popular beach is surrounded by high rolling hills and dramatic drops, covered by Hong Kong’s usual mix of shrubbery and trees, with rocks peeping through the foliage. The settlement of Shek O itself is a winning combo of the rustic charm of small village streets and the staggering grandeur of huge mansions (owned by a handful of the richest and oldest trading families of the China coast) scattered over the verdant greens of the Shek O Country Club. Lifeguards, gentle rolling waves and the reassuring presence of shark nets make this a popular beach with locals and travellers alike. There are also some incredibly tasty, old-school Chinese restaurants here which we love. There’s nothing like choosing your own fish from a tank then adding your own flavours (our favourite is Szechuan). Hot Hot Hot & Spicy, just the way we like it!
Getting there: Take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan, take exit A3 and find the number 9 bus to Shek O.
South Bay Beach (HK Island)
One of the less frequented beaches on the Southside, South Bay is a cloistered spot with its own beach club. We loved the club’s open air restaurant where DJs spin away the afternoon and you can enjoy some very good seafood. We hung out here a lot, enjoying the relative lack of people and very chilled atmosphere. The very embodiment of Hong Kong zen.
Getting there: Bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D) and alight at South Bay Beach.
Big Wave Bay (HK Island)
Named for its incredible surf, Big Wave Bay tends to be quieter and cleaner compared to neighbouring Shek O Beach. It’s a great spot to relax and grab a bite at the end of the ‘Dragon’s Back‘ hike and there are surfboards to rent if you fancy catching a few of the famous waves. This is Hong Kong’s only officially recognised surf beach (unlike the unofficial – although usually better – surf found at Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung) and is impeccably clean and well-kept.
A particularly scenic spot, this beach is separated from the more family-orientated fun of Shek O by two large headlands. Set in a deep cove with a backdrop of undeveloped, rolling green hills stretching as far inland as you can see, Big Wave started attracting an expat surfing scene (just a hardy dozen or so people) in the ‘70s. Attracted by the huge waves whipped up by winds from both the north-west and east, surfers now flock to this idyllic beach. The wind swells are consistent but the beach’s popularity means that at weekends you’ll be competing for them. Again, there are dangerous rips to be aware of – follow the locals’ lead and you’ll be fine.
Getting there: MTR to Shau Kei Wan, exit A2, then take the red minibus marked ‘Shek O’ from the adjacent tunnel
Tai Long Wan Bay (Sai Kung)
Sai Kung boasts plenty of beautiful beaches but one of our all-time favourites is Ham Tin Wan beach on Tai Long Wan (or ‘Big Wave Bay’). Powdery sand, glittering water and an infamous rickety bridge (which hangs over a small inlet and is always, shall we say, ‘an experience’), Tai Long Wan is, in a word, fabulous. The waves are decent-sized, the currents are fresh (although sometimes dangerous – be warned) and it’s all surrounded by tree-lined outcrops; this place often makes it hard to remember you’re in a city like Hong Kong.
Hikers’ favourite ‘Sharp Peak’ can be seen in the distance and several islands are visible out to sea, but the main attraction here is the big water which draws overnight campers and surfers from all over the country most weekends. However, the beach is mostly deserted during the week. On a good day, one of the four cafes might be open and you might be able to hire a surfboard but bring your own water just in case and, as ever, take all your rubbish away with you.
BE WARNED: you are not, officially in the eyes of the HK government, supposed to swim here (remember those strong currents). These beaches are not ‘gazetted’, meaning they’re not supervised by lifeguards. But even without getting wet, these beaches are special so do make the trek to check them out.
Getting there: MTR to Hang Hau, exit B, then green minibus 101 to Sai Kung Town. At Sai Kung Pier, take a water taxi to Ham Tin Wan
Cheung Sha (Lantau Island)
One of our favourite beaches on Lantau, Cheung Sha’s upper and lower beaches are on our must-visit list. The huge stretch of sand means you’re never fighting for space with other sunseekers and there are lots of beachside restaurants which will instantly put you in holiday mode. Silvermine Bay is the most popular as it’s 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. These are the longest stretches of sand in Hong Kong, ringed by peaks. You’ve also got South African restaurant ‘The Stoep‘ and ‘High Tide‘ – a really good Thai/Chinese joint close by. Just beyond Lower Cheung Sha Beach is Tong Fuk, another incredible stretch of wild sand and sea circled by jagged rocks.
Getting there: Ferry from Central Pier 5 to Mui Wo, then bus 1, 2, 3 or 4 to Cheung Sha
Turtle Cove (Lamma Island)
Tai Tam’s Turtle Cove is a dinky, golden wonder bordered by lush greenery. Pale-skinned peeps beware: there’s not much in the way of shade but it’s a peaceful spot frequented mostly by locals. 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. At Turtle Beach itself, a small curving bay offers almost no shade but lots of isolation, peace and quiet – rare commodities in Hong Kong. Even if it’s turtle nesting season, you can still soak up the atmosphere, walk around the turtle-watching cottage or lie back on ochre rocks overlooking the bay. Bring your own drinks and snacks as there are no stalls whatsoever.
Getting there: MTR to Sai Wan Ho, exit A, then bus 14. Get off just after the Tai Tam Reservoir stop and take the steps down to the beach
Kwun Yam Wan (Cheung Chau)
Cheung Chau’s popular windsurfing beach is where Hong Kong’s own and only Olympic gold medallist, Lee Lai-shan (AKA San San) trained. With golden sand, a beachside cafe, windsurfing, surfing and canoeing equipment available to rent, Kwun Yam has plenty to keep you occupied. 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.
Getting there: Ferry from Central Pier 5 to Cheung Chau, then walk along Tung Wan Road for 10 minutes
Clearwater Bay (Sai Kung Peninsula)
Comprised of two beaches, Clearwater Bay’s pristine sand and sparkling waters are lush and tropical. There’s a great view of the nearby country park’s craggy mountains and the sharp tip of High Junk Peak, making this a really magical spot to explore.
Getting there: MTR to Diamond Hill, exit C2, then bus 91 to Clearwater Bay
Chung Hom Kok (HK Island)
Forget overcrowded Stanley, this little beach is a real find. It’s tucked away off the road, hidden by trees and down some steps, making it a lot quieter than other beaches in the area. Barbecue pits make this a great place for a cookout at sunset, too. Many a Sunday morning was spent here when we needed some head space.
Getting there: Bus 6X, 63 or 66 from Exchange Square bus terminus
Lo Lo Shing (Lamma Island)
This isolated beach on Lamma Island is serene and secluded but is still manned by lifeguards. It even has a few showers and a set of changing rooms. An even bigger plus is that unlike Lamma’s Hung Shing Yeh beach, there’s no unsightly power station on the horizon. Just a clear view of the sunset (or sunrise if you get up super early!).
Getting there: Ferry from Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan and follow the Family Walk. Lo So Shing is roughly 15 minutes’ walk from the hilltop pavilion
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