Hong Kong has literally hundreds of island to explore – over 230 in fact. And of course many of them make for memorable day trips with the kids. Our friends (and experts on all things family-friendly in Hong Kong) at Sassy Mama told suitcases&strollers their tips for their favourite things to do on Po Toi, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau – a different way to see the surrounds of Hong Kong with kids.
Po Toi, a teeny tiny rocky island off the southern coast of Hong Kong opposite Stanley, is about as quaint as they come – we’re talking zero hustle-bustle. While it’s a popular lunch stop for junks, it’s often overlooked by other day-trippers. But the yummy seafood restaurants in the sheltered cove, plus the gorgeous coastal paths, fascinating rock formations and Bronze Age carvings put it high on the top of our list.
The old mansion Old Mo’s Haunted House, built in the 1930s by a wealthy merchant family, is today in total ruin, making it a popular venue for young visitors and a place where imaginations can run wild.
Po Toi is well-known for its rock formations. Don’t miss the “Buddha Hand Rock” (a.k.a. “Palm Cliff”), “Coffin Rock” near Old Mo’s mansion, and “Tortoise Climbing up the Mountain”. You’re going to really need to use your imagination to recognise some of these, but hey, that’s half the fun!
The casual beachside seafood joint Ming Kee serves what we think is the best black-pepper squid in the world. Seriously yum. Beyond the scrumptious food, the restaurant sports a big covered wooden deck with three open sides viewing the sea. They also have a fridge full of Haagen-Dazs…just saying.
The coastal paths along Po Toi make for a gentle and easy stroll – and the views of the South China Sea are tops. Many of these trails take you by the island’s ancient rock carvings which are believed to date back to the Bronze Age and are declared monuments of Hong Kong.
Perhaps the easiest way to Po Toi from Hong Kong is to hire your own junk – or get lucky with an invite. Otherwise, a ferry service is available – but on a limited schedule. You can hop on from Aberdeen on Tuesdays, Thursday, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, or from Stanley Blake Pier on Sundays and public holidays. You can also get a ferry from Ma Liu Shui. Get the full schedule here.
Meaning “long island” in Cantonese, Cheung Chau is one of the smallest but most popular of Hong Kong’s islands – and its charm and laid back vibe is positively infectious. It’s a truly lovely spot to take children to let them experience the beautiful local island culture in full swing.
Cheung Chau is probably most famous for its Bun Festival, which takes place in April/May each year. The festival gets its name from the huge towers of buns erected outside the Pak Tai Temple where the main celebrations are held. The Bun Scrambling competition – which includes 9,500 buns stuck on a 14m tower – is something every child should see at least once.
There is sampan ferry service from the public pier (adjacent to the main ferry pier) through the harbour to Sai Wan Pier. The 10-minute ride is a great way to see the busy harbour activity, and you’ll be dropped off within easy walking distance for the Tin Hau Temple and Cheung Po Tsai Cave.
There are a number of family-friendly beaches on Cheung Chau. We’re fans of Tung Wan Beach, which is close to the ferry pier, and Pak Tso Wan Beach on the south side of the island which is bit more relaxing. And be sure to check out Cheung Po Tsai’s cave where the notorious pirate is said to have stored his treasure (be sure to bring your flashlight).
Hit up the Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre and see where it all began for Hong Kong’s only gold medallist – windsurfer Lee Lai Shan. Take a family windsurfing lesson or rent stand up paddleboards – and when you’re ready to call it a day, relax in their little bistro and watch the sun go down.
Bikes are perhaps the easiest way to access all the sites of Cheng Chau, and actually it’s the main mode of transportation here. There are a number of bike rental stalls located a short distance from the ferry pier.
To get to Cheung Chau, catch the ferry from Outlying Island Ferry Pier 5 at Central Ferry Pier in Hong Kong. (The fast ferry takes 30-35 minutes). Get the ferry schedule here.
Another teeny island with lots to see and do, Peng Chau offers plenty of traditional Chinese character (temples, pavilions, teahouses) and a rural feel that will make Central Hong seem a million miles away. You can walk around the entire island in just over an hour (the whole island measures less than a square kilometre), making a visit here the perfect half-day adventure or even part of a full day of Hong Kong island hopping – in fact you can catch an inter-island ferry to nearby Cheung Chau from here.
For a pleasant walk through the village and surrounding hills, just follow the sign-posted heritage trail that leads you to a number of interesting historical and cultural buildings and sites including a picturesque Tin Hau temple built in 1792, a Qing Dynasty stone tablet, and the old Great China Match Plant, Hong Kong’s largest match factory until it shut down in the 70’s.
Traditional teahouses are rarely seen these days in Hong Kong, but they can still be found here. Pop into one on Wing On Street, Peng Chau’s main drag.
Peng Chau is basically flat except for one small peak – Finger Hill. Meander up (it’s all of 60 metres) and take in the panoramic views over the island, Disco Bay, Disneyland, Lamma, south Hong Kong island and across the Adamasta Channel towards Cheung Chau.
Hong Kong’s outlying islands and seafood restaurants goes hand in hand, but if you want something un peu différent, try Les Copains d'Aboard (“friends come first”) – a little French bar and café with a fab terrasse right on the town’s main square.
Peng Chau is serviced by ferries from Central Pier 6 on Hong Kong island. Boats mostly alternate between “ordinary” ferries and “fast” catamaran ferries, so be sure to take note. You can see the full schedule here. If you want to island hop and head to Cheung Chau next you can check out the inter-island schedule here.By Sassy Mama