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Anyone who has navigated the MTR in rush hour, traversed a network of shopping mall escalators or chased the flashing green man across Causeway Bay crosswalk knows that Hong Kong is operating at a breakneck speed, providing few instances to catch one’s breath. Booming with construction, frustrated drivers, ring tones, and spirited discourses, Hong Kong exudes its own unique soundtrack. One can almost feel the rhythmic heartbeat of the city as commuters travel through district upon crowded district. However, a mere 30 minute ferry ride away a slower pace of life exists, in stark contrast to the never-stop attitude of Hong Kong Island.

Lamma Island has been home to expats for decades and to fishing village families for even longer with settlements dating back to 1600 BC. As a long term Lammaite myself I’m here to present you with an insider’s guide to MY island as I paint a picture of the best places in Hong Kong.

For its residents, Lamma Island is not simply a place to live but a lifestyle, and with the less than frequent ferry schedule it’s something that has to be committed to. Essentially split into two halves it’s the Yung Shue Wan side that has made the island infamous as a hippie settling. Although times are changing and families are starting to replace the bohemians, the laid back atmosphere remains. A close-knit community has developed encompassing far more interaction between locals and foreigners than is seen in other parts of the territory.

Handmade trinket stores and vegetarian cafes are dotted throughout the winding streets leading from the pier to Hung Shing Yeh beach. Vegetarians should try the colorful and charming Bookworm Cafe. Green Cottage is another great veggie place which has an amazing view of the ocean and ferry pier. It's a gorgeous place for sunset.

As fans of a good dose of tipple, Lamma lovers have a variety of bars to choose from after stepping off the ferry. First up is The Island Bar a fusion of the traditional pub and island setting. Get yourself a frozen margarita as you chill out to the music and admire the smattering of photos that showcase Lamma’s natural beauty. Now that you’ve got your tipsy swagger on carry on down the Main Street to The Fountainhead. Known as more of a local hangout the bar narrowly misses the Wan Chai grunge factor simply on the merits of its airy location. Grab an outside table for some serious people watching. Popular with the gweilo residents is Diesels, a converted village building with an outside patio set just above the busy street; a perfect spot for smokers and furry friends.

Now on to food! Although the island is known for its seafood I suggest forgoing Yung Shue Wan’s offerings in favour of the international fare. A favourite locale of mine is the Deli Lamma, a bar and restaurant fused with Mediterranean colours and gastronomical delights. The kitchen recently survived a fire which has led to its extensive menu being put on hold, however owner and chef Prafull is currently serving themed buffets to cater to his diners. Set yourself down on the waterfront for a cold pint and a tasty treat.

Walking just past Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Herbo Land is Hong Kong's largest herb garden. At the farm, you can enjoy their home-made herbal teas ($20 for a cup and $60 for a pot), attend their workshops ($60 - $100/person) to learn garden practice or making soap, or take a weekend tour ($30/person) to enjoy the natural and green environment near the greenery. Apart from their wide range of herbs, you can also buy their flowers and plants in pots. We love the lemongrass tea sweetened with stevia. It's a refreshing and relaxing place to stop on the way to Sok Kwu Wan.

Crossing the island skip out on the Yung Shue Wan beaches and head straight for the sandy shores of Lo So Shing. A 50 minute walk, known as The Family Trail, across the island will lead you into my turf and home for 20 years. Lo So Shing consists of a traditional Chinese village and balmy beach that is often overlooked by day trippers. After a dip in the refreshing surf, shake yourself off and follow the path to Sok Kwu Wan to get your grub on, ensuring that you stick your head in at the eclectic Lo So Shop on the way.

Built atop wooden stalks are the Sok Kwu Wan seafood restaurants. In my experience each restaurant offers similar styles and quality of food but just ahead of the pack is family owned Fu Kee Seafood Restaurant. Get your chops around the Typhoon Shelter Crab, deep fried squid, and fried rice for a wonderfully satisfying marine meal.

On Lamma everything is an experience, including the trip back to Hong Kong. Although the ferries are often seen as an obstacle that many will not cross, this writer would challenge anyone to find a more awe-inspiring method of returning home after a back-to-nature outing. To pass through Victoria Harbour once the sun has retired and the city’s lights have been switched on is a head-spinning event that even the most seasoned commuter can’t resist. For the ferries with outdoor seating, the warm air rushing past as outstretched fingers reach towards the enchanting colours and displays Hong Kong is infamous for, adds an added beauty to the magnificent spectacle.

By Sarah Simpson