If you want to escape the main tourist areas and casinos and see a different side of Macau, head to either of its two main beaches. Occupying beautiful stretches of coastline on the southern side of Coloane Island they offer fresh air and relaxtion or plenty of beach activities if that is more your style.
The largest and most well known beach in Macau is Hac Sa Beach. The name “Hac Sa” is a translation from the Chinese words, 黑沙, which literally means black sand. Located on the south side of Coloane Island, the beach is a kilometre long and is famous for its black sand. It gets its unique colour from minerals in the seabed that are washed ashore.
However, in order to prevent the beach from disappearing, due to increased erosion, the government has added yellow sand in order to top up the beach. Therefore, the sand isn’t as black as it used to be. The water is relatively clean and suitable for swimming (the dark sand makes it look dirtier than it really is).
The charm of this beach is that, even in the peak summer months, it never gets too busy. It’s a great place to come to escape the hustle and bustle of the main city and enjoy some fresh air. The beach offers some other facilities too. There is a public swimming pool to the rear of the beach which opens from May to October. There are also barbecue pits that tend to get busy most weekends, a campsite that is popular with students and there’s a handful of restaurants and shops selling snacks and souvenirs.
Adjacent to the beach is the Hac Sa Sports and Recreation Park, where facilities include a pool, tennis courts, golf course and various other kinds of sporting and leisure fun. Hac Sa Reservoir Country Park, just a few steps from the beach, offers pedal boat hire, a suspension bridge, or a nice stroll around the reservoir. It’s a great place for families.
If all the sea air helps you to work up an appetite then you’re in luck as located just a stone’s throw from the beach is Fernandoes. This restaurant is something of a local institution and is highly regarded for serving some of the best Portuguese food in town.
Should you want to make more of a stay out of your time at the beach, the five star Grand Coloane Resort is located nearby and offers excellent views looking out to the South China Sea. The hotel’s restaurant, Kwun Hoi Heen, offers a delicious dim sum lunch and is open to both guest and visitors.
The second of Macau’s beaches is Cheoc Van, which is sometimes referred to as Bamboo Bay. It’s the smaller of the two, but with golden sand it’s cleaner and more picturesque than the popular Hac Sa Beach. It’s tucked away in a lovely little bay, surrounded by forest clad hills, just around the corner from Coloane Village, and although it is much smaller and offers less facilities than Hac Sa Beach, it is more more serene and a great place to take a stroll.
This beach is popular with swimmers all year round and there’s a cordoned off area set aside for swimmers. There’s also a large public swimming pool on the beach open from May to October.
Restaurant wise, the nearby Pousada de Coloane hotel offers Portuguese food and has a beautiful terrace overlooking the beach. There’s also La Gondola restaurant serving delicious Italian food, located right on the beachfront, it’s a great spot for an al fresco lunch or dinner.
The quaint Coloane Village is reachable by foot and is just a 30 minute walk around the coast.
For those fond of hiking, neighbouring Coloane is home to 11 walking trails which vary in length and difficulty, and can keep you busy well beyond a weekend. If you’re with kids, there are four family trails or the short trail that leads around the Giant Panda Park. For those looking for something a bit more vigorous, there’s the Coloane Fitness Trail, which includes pieces of exercise equipment along the route.