Reading Time: 4 minutesThere are so many corners of Hong Kong waiting to be explored – Sonia Jackson and her outdoor-loving children share three of their favourite day trips.
1 Sai Kung
Sai Kung, on the east of Hong Kong, is a former fishing village
transformed 30 years ago when a resettlement project displaced villagers from the High Island Reservoir. Today, picturesque Sai Kung remains a charming seaside enclave, complete with dragon-boat racers and an array of seafood restaurants on the promenade where fishing boats raise their long nets to passersby tempting them with their catches. From horseshoe crabs and crayfish in the tank-lined restaurants, to squid, frogs and snakes in the wet market, Sai Kung offers an eclectic mix of sights. Nature is abundant with friendly cows grazing on the waterfront pastures, and entertaining at times as dog owners gather to walk their pink and purple-eared poodles.
For lunch, choose any one of the restaurants in the charming village
square where children can scooter around the playground whilst you enjoy a well-earned glass of wine. Or seek out Casa, a contemporary Spanish tapas restaurant, or the Michelin-starred Loaf On. After lunch, head to the pedestrianized old town for a coffee and a visit to the Temple, and whilst Dad takes the children scootering down on the waterfront, Mum can have a quick wander around the boutiques – G.O.D., Mirth, Bumps to Babes, Kidnapped Bookstore, or the ‘we sell everything’ store affectionately known as Harrods. And if he’s still not back, squeeze in a massage at one of the various spas like Zone, Sabai or Sense of Touch.
Among the biggest attractions of Sai Kung are the boat trips out to the many islands off the Sai Kung coast. Alternatively, you could take a taxi from Sai Kung to Pak Sha Wan pier and take the HK$10 ferry ride which weaves through the yachts in Hebe Haven harbour to gorgeous Trio Beach, with its rock pools, playground, two swimming platforms and the stunning mountainous backdrop of Hong Kong. Or you could ask to be dropped at Nature’s Harvest – an organic farm with goats, rabbits and plant-your-own vegetables, which is great fun for the kids. The yellow ferries go every 20 minutes, and the journey takes about 10 minutes.
• To get to Sai Kung, take the MTR to Hang Hau and either jump in a taxi or take the 101 bus to Sai Kung.
2 Lamma Island
Lamma Island, also known as Pok Liu Chau, is Hong Kong’s
third largest island. Another former fishing village, Lamma is now a
multicultural, friendly, laid-back place. The island boasts a fabulous
walk, suitable for the whole family, from Yung Shue Wan in the northwest across the island to the southeast village of Sok Kwu Wan. Make sure you visit during the week if you can, as it can get busy with tourists.
Once off the ferry at Yung Shue Wan – around a 25 minute ride from Central Ferry Pier number 4 – you’ll be greeted by bicycles, flags and seafood restaurants lining the paths on this car-free island. Continue through the main path passing all sorts of sea creatures in tanks. If you’re hungry for lunch before you start the walk, then stop at the Lamma Grill – they have perfect kids’ food and also provide colouring sets.
When you’re ready to start walking, head left towards Hung Shing Yeh beach. After about 10-15 minutes, the big smoke stacks of the power station will come into view. From there you can continue on the Hung Shing Yeh beach or alternatively you can take a left just before the Lamma Island Police Post towards Lamma Winds, a Wind farm where the kids will delight in seeing the huge wind turbine up close, and can learn all sorts of facts on renewable energy. Back down on Hung Shing Yeh beach, you’ll find beautiful white sands with trees for shade. If you haven’t eaten, stop for lunch in one of the various restaurants or have a barbecue in the catered (sausages/coal) or noncatered barbecue pits. The children will delight in swimming in the sea, building sandcastles, or visiting the herb garden at the back of the beach.
If you have older children, you will want to take the hike over the island to the other side, so follow the signs for the Family Walk path that hugs the shore, and you’ll come to Lo So Shing Beach after about 30 minutes. Take the turn and reach Lamma’s most secluded, beautiful white-sand beach, where Tang Dynasty kilns can still be found. There, the kids can have another run around before heading towards Sok Kwu Wan’s shoreline where you’ll see a temple ahead.
You’ve reached your destination when a row of lively seafood restaurants come into view. Indulge in a freshly caught seafood dinner – a perfect end to a good hike.
• The ferry pier for the boat back to Central is just past the restaurants. The ferry costs HK$17.10 for adults, HK$8.60 for kids
over three, and under-threes go free.
3 Long Ke Wan
Long Ke Wan Beach, situated on the east of the Sai Kung Country
Park and facing the South China Sea, is my absolute favourite beach in Hong Kong. A day trip to Long Ke Wan will leave you wondering why you don’t spend every weekend here. Its perfect white sands, crystal blue waters and backdrop of pine trees make it an exceptionally peaceful spot for hikers, and a playground for the kids.
Surrounded by a cape called Tsang Pang Kok, the beach is an official campsite, though seldom does it have many campers there. It’s not surprising that many travel magazines compare Long Ke Wan to
the Maldives. Whilst you put your feet up in a hammock, or wiggle your toes in the warm silky sands, the children will find starfish, crabs and anemones in the never-ending rock pools, can test their rock climbing skills in the small waterfalls that trickle down the rocks, or surf in the endless blue waters. The pine trees give an eternal shade to the otherwise sun-kissed beach, and hours of fun can be found in climbing trees, or jumping from stump to stump.
To get to Long Ke Wan: If you’re hiking, take Bus 94 at Sai Kung or
96R at Diamond Hill MTR bus station and get off at the entrance to
the Sai Kung Country Park – the Pak Tam Chung stop. Follow the signpost to Maclehose Trail Stage 1 and walk along Man Yee Road until you get to the High Island Reservoir Geo Trail.
If you are going with small kids, it’s better to take the bus to the entrance of the Sai Kung Country Park (or drive and park in the free car park), and then get a taxi and ask to be dropped at the end of the High Island Reservoir at the start of the Maclehose Trail Stage 2 (about HK$120). From there, walk up and then down the trail for around 25 minutes, until you see the magical Long Ke Wan below you – the children usually run the last part of the trail, surf-boards under their arms.
It can sometimes be tricky to get a taxi on the way out, so it is best to call in advance (or offer to pay a little more!) and have one waiting for you. If you’re travelling the last leg of your journey by car, it might be worth packing the pyjamas because by the time you’ve reached the car, the little ones will all be sound asleep from the full day in the fresh air.