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If you thought Macau was just a “Vegas of the East” filled with kitsch casinos and precious little else, think again. Venture south of the Cotai Strip to Coloane Island and a whole other world awaits you, free from the crowds, casinos, and where the soul of the city lives on.
It’s easy to pass Macau off as just a gambling mecca with little else to offer. However, there’s more to Macau than first meets the eye, it’s surprisingly diverse, especially if you bother to venture to Coloane Island.
Known as Macau’s green lung, with its rolling hills, sylvan forests, and beaches, Coloane is home to well-preserved historical sites and still maintains many of the traditional ways of Macanese living. Since there are no casinos in this part of town, if you visit on a weekday you can escape the crowds and actually get to experience Macau’s unique East meets West heritage that, for the most part, is far better preserved than neighbouring Hong Kong.
Grand Coloane Resort is its own little oasis. It’s about as far removed from the hustle and bustle of the casino resorts of the Cotai Strip as you can possibly imagine. A great spot to take a break; it’s refreshingly peaceful for Macau with beautiful grounds, several charming outdoor seating areas, an inviting outdoor swimming pool and stunning views to boot.
Every room at the hotel has a private balcony (generously sized) that offers views overlooking the South China Sea or the neighbouring Hac Sa Beach (black sand beach). You could quite easily while away the hours on the balcony enjoying breakfast, sunbathing, lunch, dinner – all uninterrupted as the balconies are both spacious and offer great privacy.
The hotel offers classic Western and Asian dishes at its main restaurant Cafe Panorama as well as delicious dim sum and Cantonese specialties at its renowned Chinese restaurant Kwun Hoi Heen. Shuttle buses run every 30 mins to and from the ferry terminal and taxis can also be called in. Seac Pai Van Park, Macau’s largest natural green area, is within walking distance of the hotel as are several hiking trails and the Hac Sa Beach – the largest beach in Macau.
Grand Coloane Resort, 1918 Estr. de Hac Sa, Macau, +853 2887 1111
For an authentic slice of Macanese culture head to Coloane Village. This small village complete with pastel Portuguese-style houses and narrow lanes has preserved the soul of Macau and traditional Macanese living. Here you will find Catholic churches like the beautiful Baroque-style St. Francis Xavier church that sits mere yards away from traditional Chinese temples like Tam Kung, Tin Hau and the tiny Sam Seng Temple. Within walking distance, you can see several monuments that represent Macau’s unique mix of East and West influences.
Wander along the quaint little lanes that are paved with Portuguese-style wavy mosaic tiled paving and stop off at Lord Stow’s Bakery. Here you can try Macau’s very own edible icon, the delicious Macau Portuguese egg tarts. With their flaky pastry crusts, delicious egg custard centres and crispy crème brulee tops, they taste twice as nice straight out of the oven.
Mirimar restaurant offers Portuguese food by the ocean. Situated on Hac Sa Beach, it’s a great spot for families or large gatherings to come to feast on Portuguese fare. A nice beachside setting, they serve generous portions of traditional Portuguese dishes, seafood cataplanas and several others designed for sharing. With a holiday feel to this place, it’s also an ideal spot for a drink at the bar.
Mirimar, Zona Norte Praia de Hác Sá, Coloane, Macau, +853 2888 2601
Fernando Restaurante has become synonymous with dining in Macau and is regularly listed among the top 10 restaurants in the city. Situated at the opposite end of Hac Sa Beach, they offer the perfect spot to wine and dine in a laidback setting. Start with a refreshing drink of sangria at the bar and some delicious house-made chorizo. The restaurant is renowned locally for cooking up delicious classic Portuguese dishes such as bacalhau, suckling pig, and several seafood options. They offer some excellent Portuguese wines too that are surprisingly affordable – all in all a great option for beachside wining and dining.
Restaurante Fernando, Praia de Hac Sa, No 9, Coloane, Macau, +853 2888 2264