With an incredible 263 islands in Hong Kong, Samantha Wong reveals some hidden and largely uninhabited gems.
TUNG LUNG CHAU
Surrounded by delightful coves and caves that echo, Tung Lung Chau lies off the Clear Water Bay Peninsula. You’ll see the foundations of a fort, abolished in 1810, and some fascinating prehistoric stone carvings. To get there from Hong Kong’s Eastern district, head to Shau Kei Wan. Ferries leave from Lei Yue Mun Pier, or you can rent a sampan at Sai Wan Ho Typhoon Shelter.
The Soko Islands in the southwest of Hong Kong are as yet undeveloped, and the surrounding waters are teeming with fish and coral. Rock forests surround the coasts, and you’ll spot the occasional Chinese White Dolphin. There are two particularly picturesque beaches on Siu A Chau. And deserted Tai A Chau, the main island, is of special interest since it was home to Vietnamese refugees from 1975 to 1999. To get there, hire a sampan at Cheung Chau Pier.
TAP MUN CHAU
Northwest of Mirs Bay off the Sai Kung Peninsula, Tap Mun Chau (Grass Island) has some excellent teahouses and a Tin Hau Temple, built in 1737. Its 100 or so residents are mostly fishermen. Take a ferry from Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung.
Po Toi off the south-eastern tip of Hong Kong Island is a hikers’ paradise, encircled by eagles. Scenic trails lead up the hill to the top of the island for fabulous views. Walk to the south, where ancestral graves are scattered across the hilltops, to take in curious natural rock formations like Monk Rock and Tortoise Rock. Descend the concrete steps on Buddha’s Palm Cliff, to see a group of prehistoric carvings. A ferry runs from Aberdeen via St Stephen’s Beach, Stanley.
TUNG PING CHAU
Situated in Hong Kong’s most northeastern corner, Tung Ping Chau was once home to 10 villages – the few homes that remain, and the 250-year-old temple, are made from rock materials and mud. At A Man Wan, you’ll see layers of colourful rocks eroded by the water tilting into the sea. A ferry runs from Ma Liu Shui Pier in Shatin.
Ferry services to the out-of-the-way islands vary according to the time of year, and whether or not you are travelling at the weekend. For ferry times, you are best advised to enquire at the relevant pier a week or so before you plan to head out. You can also visit www.td.gov.hk.