Lovely Lantau: Secrets Of Hong Kong's Biggest Island
Hong Kong welcomes with an iconic skyline, a legendary kitchen, and lush, protected nature where rare birds and colourful traditions thrive. Many visitors come here, some might venture back for a visit to Disneyland or to ride the cable car up to the big bronze Buddha, perched on the island’s Ngong Ping hill, but most remain oblivious to what lies beyond these major sites. Lovely Lantau, the city’s largest island will give you more than you might expect.
History of Lantau
Located in the eastern outlet of the Pearl River estuary, and a natural meeting point for water-going vessels, over the centuries Lantau became an important place for trade, shipping and fishing.
Lantau is home to soaring mountain peaks
Lantau is often called the ‘lungs of Hong Kong’ thanks to the indigenous forest covering its mountainous terrain. More than half of Lantau is designated as protected country park, and with some areas only accessible on foot, it is a haven for wildlife and plants. Thanks to the varied habitats – from mountain slopes to thick forests and rocky coasts – you might come across muntjac deer, tree squirrels, snakes and sea eagles, as well as a few of the feral water buffalo that roam the island’s wetlands.
In contrast to the claustrophobic residential areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, there are relatively few people living in the small towns and villages scattered across Lantau.
The relaxed town of Mui Wo
Located in Silvermine Bay, on Lantau's east coast, so named for the silver mines that once worked along the river that flows through the village, Mui Wo is sandwiched between a beautiful stretch of beach and towering green mountains crossed by hiking trails. Quaint backstreets hide traditional low-rise houses and local restaurants, while the newly renovated waterfront promenade is home to a host of excellent restaurants, including the Mui Wo Cooked Food Centre, which specialises in locally caught seafood.
Rest and relaxation
Lantau is home to some of Hong Kong’s best beaches. Secluded Chueng Sha beach is a picturesque sweep of white sand fringed by forested peaks. One of the longest stretches of beach in Hong Kong, it is divided in two, the first cove popular with families and sun worshippers thanks to its small collection of beachside restaurants and bars, as well as its safe swimming waters. The beach in the second cove is quieter, more remote, and leads to Tong Fuk, another beautiful stretch of almost-empty beach.
How to reach Lantau ?
It’s fairly easy to get around, with blue Lantau taxis readily available at the airport and to book by phone. Most of the island’s bus lines, which service the major sites, run to and from Mui Wo’s bus station, located outside the ferry port.