Contrary to how it likes to advertise itself to the rest of the world, Hong Kong is not all skyscrapers and glitzy shopping malls. As a coastal territory it has beaches a-plenty, and if you venture off the well-beaten tourist trail, you’ll be richly rewarded with golden sands, clear waters and (often) not a soul around.
Yau Ley and Millionaire’s Bay, New Territories
Both beaches require boat transportation, although it is possible to hike to Yau Ley from Sai Kung Country Park (however it’s a challenging hike and we wouldn’t recommend it in the heat with little ones). Haggle a deal with the sampan ladies on Sai Kung Pier or book a speedboat through High Island Seafood restaurant on Yau Ley. The restaurant is the draw-card here: it lays on a fabulous seafood feast, after which the kids can enjoy jetty-jumping off the small pier or playing on the sand next to the restaurant. Glorious Millionaire’s Beach is just around the corner in the next bay, and if you ask nicely the restaurant is usually willing to drop you off after lunch for an additional charge.
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau or Choi Hung, red taxi to Sai Kung or green taxi to Yau Ley turn-off inside Sai Kung Country Park East
Hap Mun Bay, New Territories
Another sandy destination that can only be reached by sampan, Hap Mun (or “Half Moon”) Bay is a beautiful crescent of a beach on Sharp Island. Approach one of the sampan ladies (or kaito – small ferry operators) on Sai Kung pier – a round trip should cost about $40-50 per person. Hap Mun is the smaller of the two beaches located on Sharp Island, while Kiu Tsui stretches along the western edge. The water quality is generally good at Hap Mun and there are handy family-friendly facilities including toilets, changing rooms, showers, kiosks and barbecue pits. As with all Hong Kong beaches, mid-week is much quieter than weekends.
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau or Choi Hung, taxi to Sai Kung
Trio Beach, New Territories
Beloved by Sai Kung’s locals, this beach can get crowded on weekends, but as it’s reasonable challenging to reach (a five-kilometre hike from the Sai Kung branch of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club or a sampan from Pak Sha Wan Pier), it tends to be quieter mid-week than many of Hong Kong’s more popular beaches. There is parking on Pak Sha Wan pier, from where you can catch one of two sampans that chug backwards and forwards all day to little Trio. Once you’ve disembarked, you’ll find a kiosk, BBQs (charcoal is available from the kiosk) and a children’s play area. The swimming area is protected and boasts a dive platform, and the beach is lifeguarded until the end of the summer.
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau or Choi Hung, taxi to Pak Sha Wan
Turtle Cove, Hong Kong Island
Slip through the gap in the barrier just past Pak Pat Shan Road at Redhill Peninsula on Tai Tam Road and be transported to Hong Kong’s version of The Beach. The steep path winds through mountain-side terrain, gurgling streams gush seawards and you aren’t rewarded with a glimpse of the golden sands until you round the final bend. This is not a walk for strollers, so make sure you bring a carrier or sling for tiny tots. The beach itself boasts a small kiosk, lifeguards and a protected cove for swimming. Be warned, though: parking is practically non-existent up on the road, so a taxi is probably your best bet.
Nearest MTR, Ocean Park or Chai Wan, taxi to Redhill Peninsula
St Stephen’s Beach, Hong Kong Island
Head through Stanley on Wong Ma Kok Road and take a sharp right turn onto Wong Ma Kok Path (St Stephen’s College is also signposted here). There are a handful of metered parking spots at the bottom of the hill by the water. The sandy little beach has glorious views stretching back towards Stanley and The Twins hiking trails – it also faces west so expect fabulous sunsets on clear days. The beach is lifeguarded and the shallows are perfect for tiny beachgoers, so don’t forget your bucket and spade. There’s also a protected swimming area for those wanting a more substantial dip.
Nearest MTR, Ocean Park or Chai Wan, taxi to St Stephen’s Beach
Chung Hom Kok, Hong Kong Island
This tucked-away neighbourhood beach is a beauty. It’s just around the corner from Stanley but its sands are a lot quieter. Head down the leafy steps hidden on Horizon Drive. It’s a steep descent and not particularly stroller-friendly (take a sling if you have non-walkers), but it’s totally worth the effort. At the bottom you’ll find a children’s play area, barbecue pits and a compact stretch of life-guarded sand. There’s only one little kiosk serving small snacks and drinks, so if you plan on a picnic or barbecue you’ll bring your own supplies. The kids will have a ball splashing in the shallows.
Nearest MTR – Ocean Park, taxi to Horizon Drive, Chung Hom Kok
Clearwater Bay First Beach, New Territories
Clearwater Bay 2’s less-well-known little sister, pretty Clearwater Bay First Beach sits nestled in the northern crook of Clearwater Bay. The sand is clean and there is protected swimming to be had in the bay. Reached the beach from the main road by heading downhill by foot on Tai Wan Tau Road. There is some parking off Clearwater Bay Road by Shing Kee Store, otherwise park at Hang Hau MTR and grab a taxi. Expect crystal-clear waters, fewer visitors and a lifeguarded stretch of sand. There is no kiosk so bring your own supplies.
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau, taxi to Shing Kee Store, Clearwater Bay Road
Hoi Ha Wan, New Territories
Lovely Hoi Ha is hidden inside Sai Kung East Country Park, which means you can’t drive there. The strict permit rules at the Country Park gates at Pak Tam Chung make green taxis (about $100 for a return journey) or the number seven minibus from Sai Kung Pier the order of the day. The beach is part of one of Hong Kong’s Marine Parks so it’s worth bringing the snorkels along. Hop off the bus at Hoi Ha Village and make your way past the village and towards the restaurants and beach. The bay boasts 64 of the 84 species of stony corals found in Hong Kong and the area has been a site of scientific interest since the 1980s. Kayaks are also available for hire, and when the tide’s in this is a fun way to paddle out to the corals. Please note dogs are not allowed on the beach on weekends. On an environmental note, corals should not be touched or taken away – stick with the adage “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories” (although the odd photo is fine).
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau or Choi Hung, red taxi to Sai Kung or green taxi to Hoi Ha inside Sai Kung East Country Park
Long Ke Wan, New Territories
Secluded Long Ke Wan can only be reached by foot or boat. Visually stunning, the beach is a long way from the bustle of the city and is arguably one of the best beaches in Hong Kong. On weekends the bay fills with junks, but its silky, icing-sugar sands tend to stay relatively quiet. If you’re hiking, catch a green taxi from Sai Kung or from the Country Park gates at Pak Tam Chung to East Dam. With the South China Sea on your right, you’ll soon see a sign to Long Ke Wan, from where you hike down to the beach. This walk is a section of Stage 2 of the MacLehose Trail. Please note there is no kiosk or restaurant on the beach so do bring plenty of water and supplies. If you’d rather travel by water, head to Sai Kung Pier and charter a speedboat. Last summer drivers were charging up to $800 one way.
Nearest MTR – Hang Hau or Choi Hung, red taxi to Sai Kung or green taxi to Long Ke Wan turn-off inside Sai Kung East Country Park
One to avoid this summer, and with good reason, is beautiful Turtle Beach on the southern coast of Lamma Island. The beach is a regular turtle-nesting site for endangered green sea turtles, and it’s currently their breeding season. Environmental groups are asking hikers, beach-goers and junk boats to steer clear of the area to give the little fellas a chance.