Located on the southeastern tip of Hong Kong Island, the town of Shek O is serenely charming thanks to its brightly colored houses, friendly community and gorgeous coastal scenery. Shek O Beach, regarded as one of Hong Kong’s cleanest beaches, is the perfect spot for a seaside walk or dip in the Pacific Ocean. A little to the north, surfers flock to Big Wave Bay Beach. Shek O is also close to the famous Dragon’s Back hiking trail, which connects Wan Cham Shan to Shek O Peak.
The picturesque town of Sai Kung is known as a expat enclave, a weekend destination and a foodie’s paradise. There are numerous trendy restaurants and bars, including two Michelin-starred Cantonese seafood restaurants. The waterfront promenade, which is lined with fishing boats and sailboats, is stunningly pretty any time of year. For the adventurous, major attractions include scuba diving, kayaking and boat tours of the surrounding offshore islands. Weekend partygoers are known to rent out private junks and luxury yachts for the day.
Stanley is one of Hong Kong’s oldest villages and a popular tourist destination. There are numerous waterfront cafés, bars and restaurants where visitors can dine in the sunshine and fresh air. Murray House, which was built in 1846 as officers’ quarters in the early years of British rule, is a major colonial landmark. Behind Murray House, you can find Ma Hang Park, a 50,000 square meter park with a butterfly garden, bird-watching platforms and an educational trail. Lastly, Stanley Market is a great place to pick up souvenirs and knick-knacks.
Historically a fishing port and home to the Tanka people, a boat-dwelling minority recognisable by their broad-brimmed hats, Aberdeen also happens to be one of the first places in Hong Kong where British troops set foot in 1841 after the territory was ceded to the British Crown. Today, around 5,000 people still live in boats in the harbour, mingling incongruously with fishing boats and luxury yachts. Sampan rides (a flat bottomed boat) operated by elderly Tanka offer visitors the chance to sight-see from the harbour. However, Aberdeen’s most famous attraction is its palatial ‘floating’ restaurants, which can be reached via ferry.
Perched on the Western coast of Lantau, Tai O is known for its traditional stilt houses, forming an enchanting village erected on wooden stilts above the water. Once common across fishing villages in Hong Kong, Tai O is one of the few places where they still remain. A cheap boat ride will take you to the stilt houses and then out into the ocean, where there’s a chance to catch sight of one of Hong Kong’s pink dolphins, which have been sadly dwindling in number due to pollution and habitat loss. Tai O is also well known for its seafood market and street food, offering delicacies such as salted fish, shrimp paste, deep fried seafood snacks, buns and egg waffles.
A sleepy town on the eastern side of Lantau Island, Mui Wo’s claim to fame is the picture-perfect Silver Mine Bay Beach, one of the most pristine beaches in Hong Kong. For hiking enthusiasts, the pier serves as the starting point for Section 1 of the Lantau Trail. Rent a bike to explore some of the old villages nearby and walk past the beach and clamber up Butterfly Hill to visit the Silver Mine Waterfalls, which are especially beautiful just after a heavy rain.