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Islands District

Islands District

Island Hopping

Famed tofu maker at beachside hut Ah Por Tofu Fa, “Grandma Ching”, is a living example of Lamma Island’s tranquil pace of life: “Most of the time I’m just sitting here in the shade, chatting with customers after I’m done making the day’s two batches of tofu.”

Islands District

When you imagine Hong Kong, chances are you’re conjuring up visions of gleaming skyscrapers, bustling walkways, modern malls or boats bobbing on the harbor. If so, you’re probably picturing Hong Kong Island—the city’s most famous landmass. But did you know the region is actually made up of more than 260 islands dotted around the South China Sea? The Islands District of Hong Kong is made up of more than 20 of these maritime parcels: outlying islands which vary in size, provide much of the city’s countryside, and which are—for the most part—quiet underpopulated enclaves.

Many of these islands developed from tranquil fishing and farming communities into fishing ports and market towns to support Hong Kong’s swelling maritime industry. Cheung Chau and Peng Chau slands are two such examples. Where fishing villages once dominated the coastlines, market towns, seafood restaurants and other such amenities soon popped up to feed the burgeoning economy. Lamma Island one of the most popular outlying islands—and for good reason. With two main villages at either end of the isle—Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan (linked by a family walking trail)—this island escape has a rural vibe and life moves at a slower pace: here generations of families run shops and cafes, and traditional arts and crafts are still being practiced in little corners. The island is also known as the birthplace of movie star Chow Yun Fat.

Ching Po (Grandma Ching)

Ching Po, also known as “Grandma Ching”, is a living example of Lamma Island’s slower, quieter pace of life. She has been in business making and selling tofu here for over 40 years, at Ah Por Tofu Fa, a little hut near Hung Shing Yeh Beach. She learned the process from her brother in Mainland China. “He taught me a special technique on filtering the residues of the soybean which gives the tofu a smoother texture.” Grandma Ching starts work early in the morning to provide breakfast for the close-knit local community, she explained. “I make the tofu fresh every day from 7am to 2pm, using soybeans from Canada, water, and gypsum as a coagulant. I use rock sugar for the syrup.” You’ll also find that Ah Por Tofu Fa is just as popular with the island’s visitors, with queues drifting back from the beach for a bowl of her hot (or cold) tofu and a glass of soy milk. Be sure to look for Grandma Ching floating around tables: “Most of the time I’m just sitting here in the shade, chatting with customers after I’m done making the day’s two batches of tofu.”

After you’ve had your fill, try a spot of craftsmanship at Selling Point Glass Workshop, which offers half-day courses in glass blowing, stained glass and lamp work where you’ll learn how to use a kiln and create a range of different glass products. Another hidden gem on Lamma is LoSo Shop, a little blue house that’s a treasure trove of crafty-type items, vintage clothing, handmade jewelry and colorful accessories. While you’re here, soak up the incredible sea views at The Bay—a beachside haunt serving Mediterranean-style fare including deliciously fresh fish and shellfish.

Kwun Yam Temple

The much larger Lantau Island may be just minutes from the city but it’s a world apart. Lofty peaks stretch up to the sky and rumble on into the distance, providing kilometers of terrain that’s untouched except by the birdlife and wildlife—plus the odd hiker! Closer to the coast, you can still find ancient fishing communities, plus long sandy beaches, monasteries and temples. Head off the beaten track here to the hidden Kwun Yam Temple: you’ll find the Kwun Yam Po Sha Buddha in the main temple, and 18 Arhats in the main hall. Take the stairs to the upper hall where five Buddhas sit around a circular altar. If you’re here for lunch, grab a vegetarian meal in the small dining hall.

There are some long and arduous hikes across Lantau, but for a short—and spectacular—introduction to Hong Kong’s outdoors, take the path from Tai O village across the lowlands to Man Cheung Po infinity pool and waterfall. It’s about a 4km hike to reach the catchwater, where the cooling pool has the appearance of “dropping off” the edge of the world. Just as picturesque is Cheung Sha Beach, which hugs Lantau’s south coast for three long kilometers. It’s a safe beach with a lifeguard, calm waters, and a variety of watersports on offer. As the sun sets, make your way to The Stoep for dinner, which specializes in South African fare: think big, meaty platters, served right by the water’s edge. There’s no better way to end a day on Lantau!

If you have some extra time, why not try the 360 Lantau Sunset Tour, or the Tai O Eco Tour.

 

Do-it-Yourself

Morning
  • Selling Point
    Make a souvenir
    Selling Point
    Selling Point Glass Workshop offers two-hour, half day or full day classes in glass bead-making, jewelry-making, glass blowing, stained glass and lamp work. In small groups you'll learn the basics of cutting, fusing and polishing with lots of one-on-one instruction, plus use a kiln to help finish your range of different glass products. Call in advance to arrange a workshop.
    Address:
    G/F, 118 Yung Shue Wan Main Street, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 2982 4050
    How to Get There:
    From Central Pier 4, take the ferry to Yung Shue Wan Pier (30-minute journey). From the pier, walk right along the waterfront and past the playground. Follow the footpath round to the left and the workshop is set back from the shore. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
Afternoon
  • Ah Por Tofu Fa
    Try tofu pudding
    Ah Por Tofu Fa
    Famous for its sweet tofu, Ah Por Tofu Fa has been in operation on Lamma Island for over 40 years. This rustic little stall is run by Ching Po, also known as “Grandma Ching”, who makes the acclaimed tofu pudding fresh every morning from 7am using soybeans from Canada, water, gypsum and rock sugar. Look out for the queues on your way through to Hung Shing Yeh Beach. Tip: Match the cold or hot version with a glass of soymilk.
    Address:
    Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Tai Wan San Tsuen, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands
    How to Get There:
    From Central Pier 4, take the ferry to Yung Shue Wan Pier (30-minute journey). From the ferry, take the path right and follow the signs to Hung Shing Yeh Beach. It’s about a 20-minute walk.
  • LoSo Shop
    Shop for handmade gifts
    LoSo Shop
    After stocking up on tofu, continue along the Lamma Island Family Walk across to the opposite end of the island, Sok Kwu Wan. The 3.5km walk can be completed leisurely in under an hour. You can’t miss LoSo Shop, a little blue house in the village stocked full of crafty-type items—it's a treasure trove of vintage and fashionable clothing (think old US airforce shirts and patterned sarong skirts from Japan), handmade jewelry and colorful accessories.
    Address:
    28 First Street, Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 9719 7299
    How to Get There:
    • From Central Pier 4, take the ferry to Sok Kwu Wan (30-minute journey). From the ferry, turn right and walk along First Street for about 5 minutes.
    • From Central Pier 4, take the ferry to Yung Shue Wan Pier (30-minute journey). From the ferry, take the path right and follow signs for the Lamma Island Family Walk to Sok Kwu Wan. The 5km walk takes about 90 minutes.
Evening
  • The Bay
    Enjoy a beachside sundowner
    The Bay
    Continue your walk through Sok Kwu Wan village on the Lamma Island Family Walk to Mo Tat Wan. Here you can soak up the incredible sea views at The Bay—a beachside haunt serving Mediterranean-style fare including deliciously fresh fish and shellfish. The menu boasts a hearty selection of pasta, but it’s really about the seafood. Try the fresh steamed clams, fried calamari or the piri-piri prawns. This is a great location for a drink as the sun dips below the horizon.
    Address:
    7 Beach Front, Mo Tat Wan, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 2982 8186
    How to Get There:
    From Central Pier 4, take the ferry to Sok Kwu Wan (30-minute journey). From the pier, turn left and follow the Lamma Island Family Walk until you reach Mo Tat Wan. It’s about a 20-minute walk.
Morning
  • Kwun Yam Temple (Lantau Island)
    Explore a hidden temple
    Kwun Yam Temple (Lantau Island)
    Hidden away on a country road on Lantau Island is Kwun Yam Temple. Take a peek inside and you'll find the Kwun Yam Po Sha Buddha in the main temple, plus 18 Arhats in the main hall. Take the stairs to the upper hall where five Buddhas sit around a circular altar (you also get great views of the hills from up here). If you have time for lunch, grab a vegetarian meal in the small dining hall.
    Address:
    759 Keng Shan Road, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 2985 5238
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    Take the 30-minute ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo. Take bus 1 from Mui Wo Ferry Pier and alight at stop Lung Tsai on Keung Shan Road. It’s about a 30-minute journey. Walk uphill until you see a gate on the right hand side. Go through the gate and it’s a 10-minute walk.
  • Man Cheung Po
    Hike to a waterfall
    Man Cheung Po
    While it's still early, hike the 4km to Man Cheung Po infinity pool. Starting in Tai O village, the route follows the headland around the lowlands before you climb up some stairs to Man Cheung Po. The path follows part of the Lantau Trail Stage 5 and Stage 6 through Lantau South Country Park. The catchwater has been formed by an old dam and the edge of the water appears to drop off the edge of the world.
    Address:
    Lantau Trail Stage 5, Lantau South Country Park, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    Take the 30-minute ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo. From Mui Wo Ferry Pier take bus 1 to Tai O. It’s about a 40-minute journey. Walk along the pier and turn left, following the footpath signposted to Man Cheung Po. After about 20 minutes, ascend the second set of stairs on your left to the pool. The hike should take about an hour.
Afternoon
  • Cheung Sha Beach
    Beach out for an afternoon
    Cheung Sha Beach
    Rest your tired legs with an afternoon by the sea. The picturesque Cheung Sha Beach hugs Lantau's south coast for three long kilometers and is backed by forested mountains. The beach is divided into two by a small headland: Upper and Lower Cheung Sha, with each portion boasting a lifeguard. With their calm, flat waters, the beaches are great for a variety of watersports such as windsurfing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.
    Address:
    South Lantau Road, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
    How to Get There:
    Take the 30-minute ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo. From Mui Wo Ferry Pier take bus 1 or 4 and alight either at Pui O (10 minutes) or Cheung Sha Village (20 minutes). It’s then a short walk to the waterfront.
Evening
  • The Stoep
    Enjoy South African sundowners
    The Stoep
    Make your way to The Stoep for dinner (pronounced “stoop,”). This casual beachfront restaurant specializes in South African fare and with a hint of the Mediterranean. Start with a glass of sangria and some homemade bread, served with hummus, pesto, tapenade and tzatziki. But it's the meat the restaurant is famous for though, so be sure to plump for one of the grilled meat platters, barbecued chickens or whole rotisserie lambs.
    Address:
    32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 2980 2699
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    Take the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo and catch bus 4 to Cheung Sha Ha Tsuen. It’s about a 30-minute journey. It’s then a 2-minute walk down to the beachfront restaurant.

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This guide was produced by HK Magazine Media Group from 2014-2015.

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