Hong Kong Beaches

Hap Mum Bay Hong KongPresumption
Most people view Hong Kong as a concrete metropolis with little green space.  Yet around 3/4 of the territory is rural – with many sandy beaches, rocky foreshores, hills and mountains.

Sai kung BBQ - Hong Kong BeachHong Kong Facilities
These areas are protected with National Park status and generously provided with footpaths, shelters, benches, barbecue pits, and litter bins. Most public beaches have lifeguards, toilets, showers, BBQs and shark nets. Not that sharks are common, but there were incidents 20-years ago.

People squash in urban Hong Kong. Mongkok in Kowloon has almost double the population density of Manhattan, with 130,000 per square kilometer. However, few live in rural Hong Kong – although some beaches get crowded weekends.

Nigel on Stanley Beach, Hong KongThis makes Hong Kong ideal for beach hunters who appreciate conservation and scenic sub-tropical landscapes. Although the best beaches are a little remote, some are within 1/2-hour of the city.

Where Are the Beaches?
Popular Repulse Bay can be reached in a 20-minute bus ride from Central. This south side of Hong Kong Island has many sandy beaches.  My favourite here is cozy Deep Water Bay – because it faces soft tree-lined sand, rather than concrete high-rises.

Shak O Beach, Hong KongFurther east on Hong Kong Island has one of the best beaches in the region: Shek O.  This can be reached on the Island MTR line to Shau Kei Wan, then a bus for another 20-minutes.  Nearby is Big Wave Bay, popular with surfers.

Tai Long Wan, Si Kong, Hong KongSome of the most pristine beaches can take hours to get to like Tai Long Wan on the Sai Kung Peninsula.  My favorite there, and easier to reach, is Hap Mum Bay on Sharp Island – catch a sampan there from Sai Kung Town waterfront (HK$40 return weekends).

Other nice Hong Kong beaches are on islands accessible by regular boats from the Central Ferry Pier. Like Lamma Island (don’t be put off by the nearby power station), Cheung Chau, and Cheung Sha Beaches on Lantau Island.

What to do on the Beach?
Hong Kong Beach FunI’m not one for lying around – I can’t relax sprawled on the sand. Not even reading or listening to music. I’m fearless of the “Not Allowed” signs, but it’s usually too hot for me on the sand to do more than gulp iced beer.

I like to swim and play in the water. The sea’s warm all year. The coldest at 18c is in February, and hottest in September, around 29c. Hong Kong’s good for this as there’s no coral or rocks, and beaches are clean and picturesque.

Hong Kong Beach SignHong Kong No Smoking Beach SignSigns
Although these warnings are not for fun, anyone who has seen a Mainland China beach will appreciate the reserve!

Hong Kong’s not a destination just for beach holidays – but lounging on the sand and swimming in clear water never cooler than 24c, makes a busy business or shopping trip more civilized.

Hong Kong Map

See My Personal Site: NigelHayMckay.com

Boracay – Best Tropical Island in the World

White Beach BoracayWhite Beach BoracayBoracay is a paradise island in the Philippines with a beach voted the best in the world*.  Four-miles of powdery sand surrounded by aqua blue sea.

Following the dramatic sunsets from White Beach, the seafood restaurants come alive with fire dancers, singers and buffets.  Although more developed than it once was, there’s still no cars on the path between the main beach and hotels.

What’s There?
Boracay White Beach CocktailSnorkelling in BoracayBoracay MonkeyThere’s not much if you don’t like to eat, drink, lounge, swim, dive, snorkel, jet-ski or ride quad-bikes. Although you could always lay on the beach well-oiled getting fried or massaged.  Cocktails are the cheapest anywhere. Not surprising when a bottle of run or gin is just £1.

If you take a quad-bike up to the highest point, don’t go too close to  the caged monkeys. One of the little buggers stole my sunglasses while I held them behind my back!

Quadbike on BoracayWhen to Visit
Best is March to June – July to November is monsoon season.

Where to Stay
Our latest trip was in the expensive season. We booked Bianca’s Garden Apartment online – great place, big rooms for £35, but 15-minutes walk from the beach. However, a replacement was hard to find. After a rubbish beachfront place a couple of nights and walking the entire length of White Beach, we found the brilliant Alice In Wonderland Beach Hotel.  Excellent location by the Tourist Office, Station Two, only £30.

Getting There
Boracay FerryFrom Hong Kong, flights to the Philippines cost a little more than a round of drinks.

Fly to Manila or Cebu and change for Caticlan or (slightly further) Kalibo. Air Asia and Cebu Air run extremely cheap internal flights. A bus and ferry connects from the airport.  Kalibo Airport to Boracay takes under 3-hours including the ferry.

Best Dining Bargains
Seafood buffet at Victory Divers, only £3.80. However, places change – over the years, I find the cheaper options diminishing.

Boracay FishBoracay LobstersRoast Pig  For more choice, follow the path from the beach to the seafood market and haggle for lobsters, crab, king prawns and red snapper. The large green-lipped mussels are a bargain. Then take everything to be cooked in the nearby open-air restaurants. Watch the cooking fees though – this can be more than the food. Everything, with beer, cost us about £30 for two.

*International travel magazine, Travel & Leisure 2012.

Boracay IslandSee my personal site at NigelHayMckay.com