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Day tripper: Exploring Cheung Chau

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Need a good reason for taking the easy way out? Hop on a 30-minute ferry from Mui Wo and explore lively and historic Cheung Chau. Jason Pagliari reports.

Best visited during the week, as it can get swamped at the weekends when tourists sometimes outnumber the island’s population of 30,000, Cheung Chau is famous for its seafood restaurants. You’ll find the lion’s share on the island’s west coast, on Praya Street – the waterfront road, near the main ferry pier. As you sit down to your catch of the day, fishing trawlers and all sorts of smaller craft stretch as far as the eye can see, enhancing the fabulous sea views.

Most of Cheung Chau’s development is centred on a spit of land sandwiched between two hills to the north and south. Northern Cheung Chau offers up some glorious hiking country but if you’re looking for a leisurely ramble, and excellent views, head south by way of the east-coast beaches, which offer up full facilities and several windsurfing and kayaking centres.

The southern peninsula

To make your way to the south-side, turn left off the ferry, then right at Kwok Man Road and walk inland past Eggenberg Island Café & Bar to the main beach, Tung Wan. Head towards and past the high-rise Warwick Hotel, with its excellent dim-sum lunch menu, to the next beach, Kwun Yam Wan, perhaps the island’s finest.

From here, you can make your way along Cheung Chau’s Mini Great Wall – you’ll see signposts leading uphill through the jungle and past the Kwun Yam Temple.

This reasonably short stonework trail hugs the south-east coast passing various boulder formations, all with bizarre names such as Human Head Rock, Elephant Rock and Rodent Rock. There’s even a Zombie Rock; well done if you spot the resemblance.

At the lookout at the end of the Mini Great Wall, you can either head back to the main ferry pier (turn left at the temple) and take a kai-to to the south coast or continue on foot, up a steep set of stairs.

Assuming you choose the latter, follow the coastal paths and turn left onto Don Bosco Road, towards remote and rugged Nam Tam Wan, with its large temple overlooking (inhabited) Wailing ding Island. There are regular informational maps to guide you. From here, it’s a bit of a walk up and over Peak Road, past the meteorological station and crematorium, to the signposted trail that drops down into truly off-the-beaten-track Pak Tso Bay.

This trail follows along the coast and up through a stunning boulder cavern towards gigantic Reclining Rock.

Next stop is Cheung Po Tsai Cave, named after the famous pirate who is said to have hoarded his loot here. Armed with a powerful torch (a phone flashlight won’t do it), you can squeeze vertically down through a narrow opening and pass through the cave to another entrance.

From here, it’s a short walk over the hill to the Tin Hau Temple on Sai Wan, where you can take a kai-to back to the ferry pier… and order up that well-deserved plate of seafood.

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