Islands District Travel Guide
Mention Hong Kong and most visitors think of soaring skyscrapers, streets lined with glitzy malls and luxury boutiques, and almost any cuisine you can imagine served up in its thousands of restaurants and bars. It’s certainly that, but before Hong Kong flourished into a modern metropolis, it was a humble fishing village, and even today, despite land reclamation, the sea is never far away. Venture beyond Kowloon and Hong Kong Island to one of these islands, and you'll soon encounter a more laid-back way of living, where locals greet each other by name and get together for tea, and uphold traditions you thought were long gone. Let’s follow guide below to discover.
With more than 250 islands that make up Hong Kong, many of them uninhabited, escaping the city’s hustle and bustle is easier than you think.
The Central Star Ferry Pier sits on iconic Victoria Harbour, against a backdrop of gleaming skyscrapers, with more high rises on the shores of Kowloon opposite. This is in keeping with Hong Kong’s image as a modern hub of travel and commerce - but board one of the ferries to Lamma Island and, a mere 30 minutes later, you’ll find yourself in a vastly different world.
Lamma is only one of 263 such outlying islands in Hong Kong, each with their own unique, relaxed way of life. It’s so green and tropical with plenty of wildlife, plus there’s lovely beaches nearby as well as great hikes. And there’s Lamma Rainbow Restaurant, which is second to none.” Among the array of restaurants are cosy cafes, some of which combine tea and food with enjoyment of the surrounding wildlife, such as teahouse and organic herb farm Herboland.
Lantau Island, the largest among them, is where the airport is located. However, it’s also full of hidden gems - from serene Shui Hau Wan in the south, where the beach is teeming with clams ready for the picking, to Tai O Fishing Village in the west, where houses are built on wooden stilts over the water and where locals create delicious street snacks such Lantau Island diversity is one reason why Hong Kong resident Annora Ng decided to vacation there with a visiting friend, giving rave reviews of the hiking and cultural curiositiesas barbecued oysters and “husband cake”, a savoury pastry filled with red bean, peanuts and sesame.
While Lamma and Lantau are relatively easy to travel to via ferry or train, there are plenty of other islands further afield that might take more planning to get to - but the journey is well worth it. The islands are reminders of Hong Kong’s past, when fishing villages dominated rather than skyscrapers, and which today remain tranquil getaways with beautiful natural landscapes and insights into local living that should not be missed.