From hiking and beaches to islands with winding promenades, the concrete jungle of Hong Kong has a lot to see for those wanting to connect to Mother Nature.
Head to the New Territories’ Sai Kung district for a hike. Nicknamed “Hong Kong’s back garden” thanks to its lack of high rises, protected natural wonders, waterfront (with adorable namesake village and amazing fresh seafood restaurants!), and trails/beaches, this is where one accesses a taxi or minibus to the famed, winding MacLehose Trail. Cited by National Geographic Society as one of the best hikes in the world, measuring over 124 miles long with spectacularly diverse topography, MacLehose is named after a colonial-era (and hiking-prone) Hong Kong governor, Murray MacLehose, who served from 1971-1982 and established HK’s protected Country Parks.
Pak Shek Kok Promenade is almost exactly like Vancouver’s seawall with its cocktail of glassy apartments, nature, and locals of all ages taking runs, speed walking, picnicking, sunning, and exercising (yes, quite a few handsome men go shirtless). Other sections along the way to Tai Po, including Tolo Harbour Garden, feature stopping areas for fabulous Harbour views and other Instagram-worthy highlights.
A short ferry ride from Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, Lamma Island is probably best known for its seafood restaurants, especially the award-winning Rainbow (23-25 First St., Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island. Tel: +852-2982-8100. www.lammarainbow.com), and weekend hike and beach jaunts. Lamma Island’s Dragon Boat team is possibly the best in Hong Kong and each May sees a popular, fun, all-aged International Dragon Boat Festival (www.lamma500.com). Lamma is also a favorite home base for about 8,000 expats and Hong Kongers who enjoy the relaxed surroundings, nature, popular white-sand Hung Shing Yeh beach, and comparatively secluded Tung O, and boutique-y businesses. One of these residents, my friend Gary Mak of the Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (www.hklgff.hk), has long urged me to spend time exploring Lamma Island, so this time I do.