The city has some serious bragging rights when it comes to its coastline.
Cosmopolitan Hong Kong is usually associated with its dense city skyline and crowded streets, but there’s much more to this urban destination than meets the eye. There are more than 260 outlying islands and more than 100 sandy beaches dotting the territory. Whether you’re searching out an empty cove or a happening beach bar, here are a few of Hong Kong’s most photogenic stretches of sand.
Tung Ping Chau
One of Hong Kong’s most far-flung islands, Tung Ping Chau is located in the northeast corner of Mirs Bay. It’s closer to Shenzhen on the map, but it’s firmly in Hong Kong territory. To reach the little island, travelers will need to catch a ferry from the Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier and it requires careful planning, since there are limited sailings. Following the 1.5-hour ride, you’ll be rewarded with several beautiful beaches, clear water, an abundance of colorful coral for snorkeling, wave-cut rock formations, and a protected country park.
INSIDER TIPA walk around the island’s three-hour Ping Chau Country Trail is a great way to break up the day—not to mention a visit to the Jurassic-era volcanic rock formations, which are part of the UNESCO Global Geopark.
Looking for a beach that’s easy to reach from Central, but remote enough to discourage the masses? Make a beeline for Turtle Cove. Located on the south side of Hong Kong Island, just south of the Tai Tam Reservoir, Turtle Cove is hidden at the bottom of a tree-fringed stairwell. After descending some 200 steps, a small crescent-shaped beach stretches out ahead—picture soft golden sand, brilliant turquoise water, and rarely a soul in sight. There’s a small facility housing a bathroom, and a lifeguard during peak months, but we’d recommend packing your own snacks and water, as this beach has no food stalls.
INSIDER TIPIt’s best to avoid beaches after a major storm or hurricane, as debris tends to wash up on the shores.
Shek O Back Beach
Tucked away on Hong Kong Island’s southeastern shoreline, Shek O is a two-for-one deal with two beaches within spitting distance of each other. For a more upbeat day out, you can snag a spot of sand at busy Shek O Main beach, which tends to fill up on summer days. Or, you can head over to the quieter, dog-friendly Back Beach. Either way, you’ll have instant access to relatively clean water and soft sand. It’s a haven for foodies, too: expect some of the best Thai food in Hong Kong, affordable drinks at Ben’s Back Beach Bar, and upscale Mediterranean cuisine at Cococabana.
INSIDER TIPShek O Back Beach isn’t marked, but it’s easy to find. From the Main Beach, walk north for five minutes until you see the Shek O Bus Terminus on the right. Turn right, walk through the residential area, and head straight toward the water.
Easily Hong Kong’s most popular beach, Repulse Bay is the go-to choice for oceanfront wining and dining. Opened in 2014, The Pulse lifestyle complex sits right on the beach—there’s a pizza spot, a Tex-Mex joint, an American-style burger restaurant, and even a rooftop bar-lounge called Cabana for boozy weekend parties. The entertainment isn’t the only reason to visit this beach: Even though it’s usually crowded year-round, Repulse Bay has one of the largest sweeps of sand in the territory. There’s plenty of shade from the pretty banyan trees, while a colorful Tin Hau temple on the southern side of the cove makes for a popular photo opp.
INSIDER TIPDue to the popularity, the water here isn’t as clean as some of the farther-flung beaches, but you can’t beat the convenience. Repulse Bay is just a 20-minute taxi ride from Central. Alternatively, you can reach the beach by bus: It takes about 30 minutes from the Exchange Square Bus Terminus in Central on Buses 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260.
If you spot a roaming water buffalo on this silvery stretch of sand, you’re likely in the right place: Pui O, on the southern side of Lantau Island, is one of the more rustic and remote beaches in the area. But that’s not to say there’s nothing to do: Many people head here to take surfing lessons, boogie board, or try their hand at paddle boarding. Better yet, Mavericks surf shack serves up craft beer, house cocktails, and fresh Asian-American cuisine on its open-air deck when you need a break from the sun.
INSIDER TIPYou can reach Pui O several ways, but our favorite is a hike from Mui Wo to the beach. This three-hour hike—tracing Stage 12 of the Lantau Trail—will take you through densely forested mountains and around the coastline.
Lo So Shing
When visiting Lamma Island, most visitors will plop down at easy-to-access beaches such as Powerstation Beach or Hung Shing Ye Beach, both a short walk from Yung Shue Wan main village on the west coast. But if you approach Lamma from the historic fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan on the east coast, you can easily find your way to oft-overlooked coves such as Lo So Shing. From Sok Kwu Wan ferry pier, follow the Family Trail for about 20 minutes heading west. Signposts will point down the hill toward Lo So Shing, which rewards trekkers with tree-fringed sand, clear water, and epic sunsets.
INSIDER TIPAfter a dip at the beach, walk north towards Yung Shue Wan for lunch at Bookworm Cafe, stopping at Yardley Brothers Beer Shack for a seasonal craft beer along the way.
We can’t talk about Hong Kong’s most beautiful beaches without mentioning Tai Long Wan. Meaning Big Wave Bay (but not to be confused with the beach of the same name on the southside), Tai Long Wan comprises four separate coves—each clean, remote, and idyllic. A favorite among travelers, Ham Tim is home to a Chinese restaurant and camping sites. It really doesn’t get any prettier than this: The beach is hugged by cliffs and forests, with little islands out in the distance. Feeling adventurous? On the southwestern edge, a forest trail will lead you along Sheung Luk Stream to a series of terraced waterfalls and rock pools. You can either hike back to civilization via Sai Wan beach or return to Ham Tim, where you can ask the restaurant owners to arrange a sampan (local boat) back to the village.
INSIDER TIPTai Long Wan is easiest to reach by sampan, but we’d highly recommend hiking along Phase 2 of the Maclehose Trail (beginning at the Sai Wan Pavilion). The trek winds through the forest, passes volcanic rock formations, and leads you past lots of little coves.
Way up in Tuen Mun—about a 30-minute taxi ride northwest of Central—you’ll find Golden Beach. This man-made beach is among the city’s largest, covering 190 acres. It’s an ideal choice for those traveling with kids, boasting a dedicated Water Park, affordable restaurants, games, watersports, and lifeguards. Boardwalks aren’t typical in Hong Kong, but this shoreline has a lovely beachfront promenade that’s lined with tropical trees and shops. The water is generally not as clean as the more remote beaches, but the comprehensive facilities will make this an easy day out.
INSIDER TIPHome to the kid-friendly Water Park, the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel sits right beside the beach, should you wish to stay overnight.
Big Wave Bay
About a 20-minute walk north of Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay is a haven for surfing enthusiasts. The eastern-facing shoreline tends to see bigger waves than some of the more protected coves, and there are several vendors by the beach who provide surfboards and lessons. While you’re there, take a break at Eric’s Kitchen for massive burgers, beers, pizzas, and beachfront seating.
INSIDER TIPThis is also a popular beach for families, thanks to the extensive selection of rafts and boards available for rent.
Cheung Sha Beaches
Curving around the southern coast of Lantau Island, two-mile-long Cheung Sha is composed of two separate beaches: Upper and Lower. The upper portion of the beach tends to be quieter and more rustic, while the lower beach lures families to its plethora of watersports and restaurants. At Long Coast Seasports, you can rent all kinds of equipment, from paddle boards to rafts, surfboards, and windsurfing equipment. When it’s time for lunch, one of the best of the bunch is Bathers: This eco-friendly beachfront restaurant promises an appetizing menu of fresh seafood, chilled wines, and even chic lounge chairs for day trippers.
INSIDER TIPKeep walking southwest past Upper Cheung Sha and you’ll come across yet another beach: Tong Fuk. This castaway beauty rarely sees visitors despite its clean water and soft, silvery sand.