Secret islands in Hong Kong

Have you done everything there is to do on Lamma? Is Cheung Chau getting a little too hipster for you? Hong Kong is home to more than 250 islands, so there’s no need for you to keep revisiting the same old spots. And if you’re looking for gorgeous sandy beaches, picturesque hikes and free things to do, these islands have them all and more.

Tung Ping Chau: Rockin’ rocks and sunrises

The striking island of Tung Ping Chau (also known as Ping Chau) lies in the very far northeast of Hong Kong and is formed from ‘new’ sedimentary rock, resulting in a brightly coloured, multi-layered and exceptionally photogenic landscape that is perfect for fossil-spotting. The area also has a diverse ecosystem – it’s protected as a Country Park, Marine Park, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is also listed within Unesco’s Global Geoparks Network. Spend your day clambering cliffs or by taking the 6km looping Peng Chau Country Trail, before taking a dip in the island’s crystal clear waters – look out for the colourful fish, crabs, coral and even sea urchins. After all that, fuel up at one of the few restaurants that pop up on the weekends.

Camping is another popular way to see Tung Ping Chau, especially as a way to enjoy some of the best sunrises in the whole territory. Just be sure to take all your rubbish away with you!

Don’t miss: The incredible wave-cut rock platforms that border the island’s shores. (We also advise not to miss the ferry home as they only operate on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.)

Middle Island: Yacht watching and beach exclusivity

Middle Island may be small, but it’s wonderfully easy to get to – it’s only a two-minute boat ride away! This island is home to the members-only Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) but also features a quiet, sandy beach that is open to the public. You can get to said beach by jumping on the RHKYC’s free shuttle boat at Repulse Bay. Lie back on the serene, riff-raff-free sand and watch the club boats go past. If you know someone who’s a member of RHKYC, take them along and then you can enjoy their stunning alfresco bar and restaurant area, too.

Don’t miss: It’s all about the secluded beach.

Tap Mun: Hong Kong’s best lawn

Tap Mun, which sits off the coast of Sai Kung Country Park, is also known as Grass Island. The 1.7sq km island is composed of rolling, grassy hillocks complete with wandering cows and is also home to a few hundred Hakka and Tanka people. The island has an exciting history as a smuggling and pirate haven, although its now-sleepy streets belie this.  Tap Mun is a popular spot for both camping and kite-flying, and also boasts several rocky beaches. Spend an afternoon here by taking a stroll along the paved 2km footpath that starts out at the fisherman’s village by the pier and ends up on the hilltop in the middle of the island. The path offers panoramic views and a refreshing breeze, even on the hottest day.  Once you’re all hiked out, head back down to the village’s main restaurant, Sun Hon Kee (Tap Mun Hoi Pong St) to refuel on seafood. Make sure you also try some of the island’s famous ice-less iced milk tea. Tap Mun is home to a trio of temples, located near the main village, which date back to the 18th century. Legend has it there was once a pirate’s tunnel that led from the altar of the Tin Hau temple all the way out to the sea. Also, make sure you take a look at the abandoned King Lam School on the hill above the village. It was built in 1957 and, when it closed in 2003, famously had only one pupil. 

Don’t miss: The gentle, winding trail over the island, with its year-round cool breezes.

Tung Lung Chau: Climbing paradise

Rough, rugged and wild, Tung Lung Chau is the craggy cousin of Hong Kong’s island family. It’s regarded as the best place for rock climbing in the territory, with multiple routes of varying difficulty. There’s a campsite on the northeast of the island, about 20 minutes’ walk from the ferry pier. Close to the campsite is what now remains of Tung Lung Chau Fort – built between 1662 and 1722 it used to defend the island from pirates, but it’s somewhat rundown nowadays. There’s one main paved trail on the island, which loops from the pier to the top of a hill, offering great views. This trail passes by the largest and oldest rock carving in Hong Kong – measuring 1.8m by 2.4m, it’s (apparently) a depiction of a dragon and is said to be over 5,000 years old.  The main path isn’t too challenging so if you want some adventure you can try out one of the smaller trails back down from the hill. Be warned, however – these can get tricky. If you’re interested to climb here, there are several local groups who make regular trips, although be prepared for crowds on weekends. Check this guide for more information.

Don’t miss: Get the chalk bag out – it’s all about the climbing.

Kat O: Step into another world

Lying close to China, in the northeast of Plover Cove Country Park, this far-flung island is home to a few hundred people. The 2.4sq km isle is also known as Crooked Island, thanks to its irregular shape. Getting here is far from easy, but that very fact makes it all the more interesting – the quiet streets here are time capsule-esque. You should first stop by at Kat O Geoheritage Centre (142 Kat O Main Street) – open every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday (except Lunar New Year) from 10am to 3.30pm. Opened in 2010, it celebrates the island’s geology and cultural history. You can also take a wander along the Kat O Nature Trail – this short path winds through the villages before heading upwards and finishing up at a pagoda. Look out for the ancient temples, ancestral halls and three corroded cannons along your way.

Don’t miss: Kat O Geoheritage Centre.

About Ng Kit

Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis.