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Hong Kong Beaches

Hong Kong has many fantastic beaches with gorgeous views of the sea dotted with small green islands. On the southern coast of the main island, the most accessible and most popular are Stanley and Repulse Bay. Just to the west is the smaller, less-crowded Deep Water Bay, and farther west is the more intimate South Bay. On the southeast coast of the island, Turtle Cove is isolated and beautiful, and Shek O's beach has a community feel. You can reach most beaches by bus or taxi (HK$150 and up).

Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department has set some tough guidelines and goals for cleaning up area waters. For more info, including beach-by-beach pollution ratings, check out the EPD's website: www.epd.gov.hk/epd.

Southside

Just east of Ocean Park, this bay was the setting for the William Holden film Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955). Nearby are the manicured greens of the Deep Water Bay Golf Course. The area has become a multimillionaires' enclave, and is home to Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, a real-estate tycoon.

Repulse Bay, in Southside, is named after the British warship HMS Repulse and not, as some say, after its slightly murky waters. If you come out here, the Verandah, a replica of the eating and drinking establishment that once graced the iconic Repulse Bay Hotel, is a great place for traditional English afternoon tea.

In Shek O village you can find old mansions, small shops and a few popular Chinese and Thai restaurants. Follow the curving path from the town square across a footbridge to Tai Tau Chau, really a large rock with a lookout over the South China Sea. Also near town are the Shek O Golf and Country Club and the superb Shek O Country Park, with great trails and bird-watching. From Central, take MTR to Shau Kei Wan, then take Bus 9 to the last stop (about 30 minutes).

Stanley is known primarily for its market but past the market, on Stanley Main Street, a strip of restaurants and pubs faces the bay. Stanley's main beach is the site of Hong Kong's official Dragon Boat races, usually held in June.

The New Territories

Hap Mun Wan. Half Moon Bay, as Hap Mun Wan, is called in English, is a brilliant, golden-sand beach near Sai Kung Town on the Sai Kung peninsula. Sampans to Half Moon depart from the Sai Kung waterfront, beside the bus station. If you're sharing a sampan with other passengers, remember the color of the flag on the roof: that's the color you need for your return ferry. Shared sampans cost HK$40. From Central, take MTR to Hang Hau, then Exit B1 and Minibus 101M to Sai Kung Town. New Territories, Hong Kong.

Sha Ha. The sand isn't fine and golden, but the main reason people visit this beach on the Sai Kung peninsula, is for the windsurfing. Sha Ha's waters are shallow, even far from shore, and ideal for beginning windsurfers. Grab something to eat at the restaurants and bars that dot the beach. From Central, take MTR to Hang Hau, then Exit B1 and Minibus 101M to Sai Kung Town. It's a 10 min walk along the shore to Sha Ha. New Territories, Hong Kong.

Silverstrand. Though a little rocky in spots, this beach at the east end of Sai Kung has soft sand and is crowded on summer weekends. Walk down a steep set of steps to reach the small stretch of beach where families enjoy all manner of floating beds and tubes in the sea. Barbecuing is a popular beach activity, where the local style is to hold long forks laden with meats and finger food over the coals. From Central, take MTR to Hang Hau, then Exit B1 and Minibus 11M toward the University of Science and Technology. New Territories, Hong Kong.

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Lantau Island

Popular Cheung Sha, on Lantau Island, is only a short taxi or bus ride from the Silvermine Bay ferry pier. Its mile-long expanse is excellent for swimming.

Silvermine Beach. The stretch of beach on Lantau can be seen from the ferry as you approach the island, though because of its proximity to the pier and other fishing boats, the waters aren't as clean as those at Cheung Sha. You can rent bikes at the Silvermine Beach Hotel and explore the village of Mui Wo. Take ferry from Central's Pier 6 to Mui Wo. Buses meet ferry every half hour on weekdays and Sat.; on Sun., buses leave when full. Lantau, Hong Kong.

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