After I decided to go to Hong Kong this week I reached out to my social circles to get some good tips & tricks on what to see and do here. I know a lot lot of people who love Hong Kong and I know a lot of people who really can not understand how I've managed to live in Shanghai for over 2 years and still not visited this amazing place! I usually say that it's because, when I leave Shanghai I'm leaving from city to nature. Not from city to another big metropolis. Certainly not one known in such degree to be all about shopping!
And this is when most (for not to say all) people who loves the city tells me about the other side of Hong Kong: the magnificent nature and the unlimited opportunities for outdoor exploration! I love the sound of that and my biggest challenge has been to choose between all the Hong Kong outdoor fun!
Another sound I love is the sound of when people have been telling me about Lamma. The little car-free island known for fishing villages, hiking trails and beautiful beaches. Needless to say, Lamma was automatically on my things-to-do-in-Hong-Kong list.
Getting to Lamma from Hong Kong Island
Without much planning and with a quite dodgy weather forecast I jumped on the subway with Leon this early morning and off with him again at "Central". Here, right next to his office building, the Hong Kong IFC (International Finance Centre) Mall and the most bustling business part of Hong Kong you find the Pier. Just head towards the water (north) and whether you are on street-level or on the above-ground-level walking bridges you will find signs towards "Outlying Islands".
The fast ferry to Lamma departs from Pier 4 every 15-25 minutes. It takes approximately 20-25 minutes and costs 17.5 HKD.
Exploring Lamma Island
The fast ferry takes you to Yung Shue Wan - the main centre of Lamma island. When you go onshore you are being met by fishing boats and bikes. And that tells you a lot about Lamma: No cars, lots of fishers (read: seafood).
On the left side of the pier you will find signs, landmarks and recommended routes so event though I had very little planned it didn't take me long to decide on what to explore on Lamma. Hiking route - Yes! Beaches - Yes! Windpower station - Not so much (heaps of windmills in Denmark, but thank you for the offer Lamma).
The Main Hike
From Yung Shue Wan you can take the 1.5h hike to the other main centre of the island: Sok Kwu Wan and from here you can take the ferry back to Hong Kong island. This hike is so cool! The path is paved the whole way, the landscape are super changing & super amazing AND you don't have to hike the whole way back (in my opinion, there's no more boring thing in the world than having to hike, bike or run the same route back as you came from, if I have to go back to my starting point please give me a loop!)
Start with a stroll in Yun Shue main street, have a peak and snack at the vegan cafe in town (I arrived too early so it wasn't open yet, I would love to know how it is=) and you will find the main road just after the little temple.
Don't worry if you're not sure which road to take, most small paths lead to the main road one way or another and just keep an eye out for signs (both the modern tourist signs and the random hand-written notes hanging around on houses and at turns).
Beaches on Lamma Island
The main road and main hiking route on Lamma will automatically take you by Hung Shing Yeh Beach. A cute little oasis with organized swimming facilities such as changing rooms, a lifeguard tower and BBQ area.
Have a rest, a swim, an ice cream or sit down and paint the beautiful landscape like the little group of old Chinese women I met. From here there's still approximately another hours hike.
After another 20 minutes hike you can tun off the main road and visit the other popular beach: Lo So Shing Beach which should have the same facilities.
What's Lamma Like?
My little hike on Lamma Island reminded me of such a mix of things. I mean, I wouldn't know how to describe this little nature's pearl in one sentence. Some parts reminds me so much of my grandmothers little fishing village Årø in Denmark, some of the steeper hike parts reminds me of what I imagine parts of New Zeland looks like (yes after watching Lord of the Rings that is) and some parts reminds me of the beauty of China which I know after my travels to the more rural areas of China (for example Shengsi Island).
At your end-destination Sok Kwu Wan sea food restaurants, bars (with impressive selections of imported beers) and souvenir shops are lined up. The eateries all offer cute views of the water and you should at least sit down for a green jasmine tea or a cold beer.
It's a good idea to head to the pier first, at the end of the line of restaurants, and check the ferry schedule so you can plan your feast and your time. There's some gaps around lunch time with 1h+ waiting between ferries. If you have too much time on hand I suggest you by some postcards and send your family a thought from Lamma Island =)
I believe the ferry back to Hong Kong island from this part of Lamma is the non-fast ferry. It took approximately 40 minutes (perfect for a little nap) and you pay approx 21 HKD when you go onshore.
Living on Lamma Island
There's been modern Chinese settlement on Lamma since the late 17th century. In the mid-1800 century the island inhabitants started to supply the markets in Hong Kong and the connections between Lamma and surrounding islands started to increase.
Since the 1980s Lamma has been an "established suburban area" and now lots of people commute from here to work in Hong Kong every day.
Imagine living on this little tranquil spot, catch the fast-ferry to work in busy Hong Kong and in the end of the day go to sleep among mountains or close to waves. I could easily imagine this, how sweet! And when I walked onshore on Lamma I even saw laoweis (foreign expats like me) dressed up for what looked like work, on their bikes just in time to catch the ferry to Hong Kong.
If this is the dream, this cute family house with balcony is available on the Lamma real estate market. Price: 9.650.000 HKD.....Or you can just rent a room for 3500 HKD which would be perfect for me if I was an exchange student in Hong Kong!
Spread the words to your HK friends =)