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Hong Kong’s islands
are a world away

Lesser-known locales offer rugged coastlines, abandoned villages and challenging trails

Although many people think of Hong Kong as a towering mass of concrete and glass, the city on China’s southeastern coast is actually made up of more than 260 islands.

The most famous of these include Hong Kong Island, Lantau, Lamma, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau, all of which have their attractions. But locals and tourists alike also flock to the cityʼs many outlying islands to enjoy their natural wonders and a more relaxed pace of life.

TUNG PING CHAU

Situated far out in Mirs Bay, Tung Ping Chau, the easternmost island in Hong Kong, is listed in UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network owing to its rugged geography – colourful wave-cut formations of sedimentary rock.

The entire island is demarcated as a country park; the six-kilometre Ping Chau country trail follows the rocky, ragged cliffs of the western shore to the crystal-clear waters and beaches of the eastern shore. The island is also famous among local snorkelling and diving enthusiasts as it boasts some of the city’s clearest waters, as well as stunning coral formations and marine life.

Getting there Take the ferry from Ma Liu Shui pier. (Runs primarily on Saturdays and Sundays, select times only).

The entire island of Tung Ping Chau is demarcated as a country park

TAP MUN

Transliterated as “grass island,” Tap Mun is Sai Kung district’s most spectacular region. The island is still populated by descendants of the original inhabitants, who settled there as early as the 16th century.

Primarily a colony of fisherman, most residents have moved into the city in the search of jobs, although recent tourism has brought them back (at least on the weekends) to provide fresh seafood, local snacks and drinks to island tourists.

The islandʼs hilltop, which you can reach through a short hike past the Tin Hau temple, is popular for overnight camping, where tourists can enjoy panoramic views and will often fly kites aided by the winds coming off the South China Sea.

Though the island doesn’t have any sandy beaches, some of the region’s best are only a short speedboat ride away in Tai Long Wan, a big bay visible from the regionʼs iconic Sharp Peak, the top of which can only be reached after a long, hard climb.

Enjoy the sight of feral cattle roaming freely, but also watch out for massive insects and spiders on the trail.

Getting there Take the ferry from Wong Shek pier. (Runs primarily on Saturdays and Sundays, select times only.)

Feral cattle roam freely on the island of Tap Mun

YIM TIN TSAI

Yim Tin Tsai is located just a 15-minute boat ride from the eastern coastal town of Sai Kung. Unlike other islands on this list, which focus on beauty of nature, this island is better known for its human history.

The island was populated by immigrant Hakka families in the 1700s, who made a living by setting up salt farms (the island’s name means “small salt field”) as well as houses, schools and St. Joseph’s Chapel, a historically significant building constructed in the 1890s. The population of the island dwindled in the mid-to-late 1900s as the salt industry declined, and by the 1990s, the island was deserted.

Today, Yim Tin Tsai is popular with day trippers. An exhibition centre presents the history of the island with cultural artifacts and a trail around the island takes visitors around the abandoned villages, past the salt farms and over hillsides.

Getting there Take the ferry from vendors at Sai Kung pier. (Runs regularly daily.)

A trail around the island of Yim Tin Tsai takes visitors through abandoned villages

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