Hong Kong is one of Asia's busiest cities and is often seen as a hectic metropolis where gleaming skyscrapers and colossal shopping malls dominate the scene...
An article about "The pristine beaches of Hong Kong" might therefore sound more like an April's fool joke than anything else, but, believe it or not, picturesque beaches do exist in Hong Kong, and they are certainly worth a visit, if you have enough time…
Here is a bit of info about seven of Hong Kong's most beautiful beaches...
1) Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay are two neighboring beaches on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, between Aberdeen and Stanley, just around the corner from Ocean Park.
Repulse Bay, the more popular among the two, boasts a lovely sandy strip and a backdrop of forested mountains. The well-to-do suburb on the slopes behind the beach resembles Monte Carlo or one of Sydney's well-off neighborhoods, and other than the usual shebang of beach services, there are some fabulous 'alfresco' cafes and restaurants.
Deep Water Bay, next door, is somewhat less popular than its neighbor and makes a better choice for those who look for a bit of privacy... nonetheless, the beach is just as good (including the facilities), and so is the picturesque scenery.
2) Stanley is mostly known for its cliché-market and beautiful seaside promenade, but this charming village-town also boasts two beautiful beaches worth knowing about: "Stanley Main Beach" on the eastern side of the peninsula, where you can enjoy the long sandy strip and good swimming conditions, as well as a properly equipped water sports centre... and "St. Stephen's Beach", south of the village, which is somewhat more pristine and boasts fine sand, clear water and nice beach walks...
3) Shek O Village occupies one of the remotest and most picturesque corners of Hong Kong Island, and can make a really great day-out for those of you who have more than just a couple of days to spend in Hong Kong.
The name Shek O means "Rocky Bay" and indeed, the village sits along a lovely rocky bay, with two sandy strips, north and south of the headland. Other than basking in the sun, you can enjoy some lovely restaurants and cafes, and a nice nature walk to the rocky islet of Tai Tau Chau which is almost like a peninsula, connected to the village by bridge.
4) Big Wave Bay ("Tai Long Wan"), just a short drive from Shek O, is probably the only beach on Hong Kong Island where you can actually 'ride the waves'. It boasts a sandy strip, backdropped by impressive forest-clad hills, and there are also some ancient rock-carvings around.
5) Clear Water Bay, on the southeastern side of the New Territories, is nestled along the coastline of one of Hong Kong most pictorial coves, surrounded by steep forest-clad mountains and island-dotted bays.
There are actually two beaches in Clear Water Bay: Beach No 2 seems to be slightly better than No. 1 (You can combine it with a visit to the ancient Tin Hau Temple at Joss House Bay).
6) Wong Shek is nestled on a Fjord-looking inlet, in the hub of Sai Kung Country Park, and while it doesn't have the most impressive sandy strip, the scene is certainly impressive, and there are quite a few different water sports you can try. It takes a bit of time to get here, but if you are not under time-pressure, do yourself a favor and go there..
7) Hoi Ha Village: At the end of Sai Kung Country Park lies the village of Hoi Ha (It feels like it's at the end of the world, but in reality it is not very far from the city Centre). This is the entrance to Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park: one of the best places in Hong Kong for snorkeling and diving.
Just like Wong Shek, there is not so much in the way of sandy beaches here, but the marine life and the gorgeous sceneries more than make up for it.
A local boat-tours operator, Sea Land Boats Centre, takes passengers on a two-hour cruise of the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. Other than enjoying the breathtaking coral communities, you will also be able to appreciate some splendid views of Sai Kung Peninsula's wild countryside.
And here is one important tip before signing off on this post: Try to avoid the beach on weekends and public holidays, unless you want to be crammed like a sardine in a tin-can.
There are also some great islands in Hong Kong, with beautiful beaches, and I'll try to write about them in the next few days…
You can also take a look at some of the other posts I made about Hong Kong:
1) The best cheap hotels and guest houses in Hong Kong
2) A detailed guide for an overnight stopover in Hong Kong
3) How to cover Hong Kong's "must-sees" on a day-long stopover
4) Traveling from Hong Kong to Macau
5) A day-trip of markets & Chinese culture in Hong Kong
Figure out the best place to stay on Khao San Road in Bangkok and where to escape when you've had enough of the mayhem. From Singapore Slings to the changes in Bejing after the 2008 Olympics, gab about it all here.
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