If you’re done with the hubbub of city life and wouldn’t mind a taste of relaxed island living, head out to one of Hong Kong’s Outlying Islands: Lamma Island. Step into a world of tropical fruit trees growing in the gardens of small village houses nestled between jungled slopes, winding hilly paths and isolated beaches. Bonus: It’s just 30 minutes away from the center of town, and also where martial arts star Chow Yun Fat of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame grew up.
Here’s HK Cheapo’s itinerary for your Lamma Island day trip…
Take the 10:20 am ferry to Sok Kwu Wan from Central (pier 4). Take a seat in the open-air area on the second floor to watch the maritime world of Hong Kong unfold in front of you. Great container ships, pleasure cruisers and even the occasional sailboats weaving their way through the channels and small islands that make up the iconic Victoria Harbour. Then in about 15-20 minutes you’ll see the island and the ferry will make its way into a quiet bay populated by fish farms and seafood restaurants. You’ve arrived.
Hop off the boat and head to the row of seafood restaurants. The biggest and most popular is the often-bustling Rainbow Seafood Restaurant. You’ll arrive just as they open, so it’ll be a little less packed, and so you’ll be able to get a table overlooking the bay.
The menu’s extensive; though there are options for those who don’t love seafood (sweet and sour pork or stir-fried beef with broccoli anyone?) Try the black bean clams, salt and pepper squid, garlic scallops and e-fu noodles with lobster. If you’re going with a large group, some of their set menus are a pretty good bang for your buck. Just be warned that if you pick out your own meal from the tanks of fish and crustaceans things can get pricey pretty quick as those are at market price.
Take to the hills
Now that your belly is full of delicious seafood, time to walk it off with a stroll. The seafood street is on your right as you get off the boat, the start of the well-marked Ling Kok Shan Hiking Trail is to your left. This ambling path takes you along the bay, overlooking the fish farms, taking you past rustic villages, abandoned farmland, and through winding gently hilly paths to arrive at Shek Pai Wan, Lamma’s largest beach. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot through the sand, and maybe go for a wander exploring the nearby rock formations (with shoes!) and admire the expansive views of the South China Sea. Bring a beach towel and lay about for a little. It’s the perfect place for a quiet contemplation, as it’s often sparsely populated.
For the average person, the hike should take around 1.5 hours (minus the time you spend at the beach)
Choose your own adventure
Once you’ve had your fill of the ocean views, we have two alternative paths for you.
For those who fancy more hiking and would like to check out a more bustling part of the island.
Pass through Tung O village (Chow Yun Fat’s old village) and climb up to Yam Ling Au, and it’s around a 50-minute walk about to Sok Kwu Wan. Instead of passing through seafood street, go the other way from the Tin Hau Temple and follow the Lamma Family Trail to Yung Shue Wan, Lamma’s most populated village, a hippy warren of small village houses, mom and pop stores, handicraft stores, restaurants, bars and cafes.
Walk past Kamikaze Cave where Japanese forces used to launch suicide missions during WW2, and head up the hill where on a clear day you’ll get a great panorama view of Sok Kwu Wan and across the East Lamma Channel to Aberdeen and Ocean Park, amusement park and home to Hong Kong’s resident giant pandas. Follow the Family trail through to Hung Shing Yeh beach and on to Yung Shue Wan. Go for a wander around the village before stopping off for dinner and a drink at any of the following places.
Candela (23 Main Street)
This reasonably priced Spanish tapas restaurant expanded from a simple takeaway joint to a 30-person restaurant, after proving popular with local residents. Sit with a well-deserved jug of Sangria, and try their paella, tuna-stuffed eggs, roast pork, cheesy cauliflower and patatas bravas.
Lamma Grill (36 Main Street)
Feeling like something hearty after all that hiking? The burgers, fish and chips, ribs and other pub-style fare at the Lamma Grill might just hit the spot. Sit on the waterfront terrace and watch the sun go down with a pint of the local craft brew by the Yardley Brothers.
For those who want to take it easy.
After your afternoon hike, go back the way you came, and around 45 minutes to an hour in you’ll find a fork in the road that heads down to the sleepy beach village of Mo Tat Wan. Head to The Bay, an open-air, self-styled Mediterranean restaurant to kick back, relax and watch watch the sunset over the water with a glass of wine in hand. The mussels, king prawns and African chicken are some of the local favourites.
You can take another ferry back from Mo Tat Wan to Aberdeen fish market where you can either take a bus or walk to the MTR to get back to the main city.