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Hong Kong's quiet neighbor.

Lamma Island and its fishing villages--just 50 minutes by ferry

My favorite view of Hong Kong is from the railing of a ferry. As we steam out from a Central District pier, the island's high-rise business district with its flashing neon, jostling crowds, and chockablock rows of gadget-stuffed shops gradually takes on a postcard quality. As much as I enjoy this bustling city, after a few days here I usually head for slower-paced Lamma Island.

Small, roadless, and carless, and home to only 5,000 people, Lamma Island is about as far from modern Hong Kong as you can get in a 50-minute ferry ride. The sprawling island, anchored by two small fishing villages and dotted with small vegetable gardens and rice paddies, is known for its sandy beaches, pleasant walking paths, and seafood restaurants edging the water at Sok Kwu Wan.

On weekends and holidays, ferries are jammed with beachgoers and hikers. To miss most of the crowds, plan your trip for a weekday. For ferry schedules, contact a local office of the Hong Kong Tourist Association.


When daytime temperatures and humidity begin to climb in April, visitors head for one of two beaches near Sok Kwu Wan. Take bottled water and, if you plan to swim, a towel and sunscreen.

My favorite beach--Lo So Shing--is a roughly 30-minute walk across the island's narrow spine. This clean white-sand beach with a lifeguard April to October is also known as Ngong Kwai Wan (upturned turtle beach).

To get there from the ferry pier in Sok Kwu Wan, turn right past restaurants and a temple on the edge of the village. From there, follow the path around the harbor, then inland past small vegetable gardens to the beach.

Or turn left off the pier and follow the slightly shorter paved path above the coast to Mo Tat Wan beach. Though swimming is good here, the beach has no lifeguard or amenities; during my last visit, it was littered with debris.

The Aberdeen kai do (motorized sampan) stops here; you can catch a ride back to Sok Kwu Wan or to Aberdeen.


For a fresh seafood meal, head for one of the outdoor restaurants that line the waterfront in Sok Kwu Wan.

On weekdays at lunch, you'll have your pick of tables, but most evenings are busy. Even Hong Kong gourmets grab a ferry after work for the simple pleasure of sitting above the water on a balmy evening, sipping an ice-cold beer while peeling spicy tiger prawns fried with black pepper and salt, or picking apart a lobster or a crab steamed with vinegar.

While you can dine inexpensively on Chinese dishes, lunch or dinner for two with a couple of seafood specials can run $50 U.S.

As you walk past the restaurants checking menus, note restaurant names. Most have adopted the names of swank Hong Kong hotels for their signs. One of my favorites is the Lamma Conrad Seafood Restaurant; another, the Shun Kee Sea Food Restaurant, is better known as the Lamma Hilton.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Beyond the West; Lamma Island
Author:Phillips, Jeff
Article Type:Column
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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