Hong Kong may be home to more business suits than swimsuits, but when the weekend comes there are many ways to enjoy the water. From canoeing to swimming with dolphins, here’s our comprehensive guide to water activities for everyone to enjoy.
Aberdeen Boat Club
This has to be one of the most sociable clubs in Hong Kong. Facilities include two waterfront clubhouses in Aberdeen and Middle Island . abclubhk.com
The city is home to a surprising number of beaches. Whether you’re southside at little ol’ South Bay or you travel further afield to a stunning spot in the New Territories, there are options aplenty.
Or kayaking, to be more precise. Adventure company Sea Kayak Hong Kong conducts tours of the more out-of-reach and beautiful parts of Hong Kong’s coastline. seakayakhongkong.com
The Marine Park in the New Territories is closed to fishing, so amazingly you can find an abundance of coral and fish species from clown fish to barracuda. The South China Diving Club organises training and guided dives throughout the year. scdc.org.hk
There is an increasing momentum in the community around the importance of protecting our natural resources. If you want to do your bit, log on to the Hong Kong International Coastal Clean-up Challenge website for details of annual events or join a plastic-free seas event. plasticfreeseas.org | hkcleanup.org
There are many reservoirs in Hong Kong open to the public for fishing out of the breeding season every year. Permits are cheap and valid for three years; visit the website of the Water Supplies Department and click on “Application for Fishing Licence” for more information. esd.wsd.gov.hk
Ever-surprising Hong Kong has a myriad of interesting landforms. The Hong Kong Geopark, opened in November 2009, comprises eight major geological sites of international stature. Explore it by boat or, for the more adventurous, join a walking tour. Visit the website for more details. geopark.gov.hk
The annual cross-harbour swim race has been a date on Hong Kong’s sporting calendar for over 100 years. The New World Harbour Race is normally held in October and last year attracted more than 3,300 keen water babies. hkharbourrace.com
Head out to some of the villages on the outlying islands and indulge in a seafood feast! You’ll find lots of options on Lamma, Cheung Chau and Lantau.
If you want to experience something of the city’s nautical past, jump aboard the last authentic Hong Kong junk, Duk Ling. Restored in the 1980s, the boat takes passengers on an hour-long harbour cruise. You can also enjoy a 45-minute harbour cruise on the red-sailed Aqua Luna. Meanwhile, a number of companies offer junks for hire for a fun day out with friends. dukling.com.hk
Kitesurfing & Kiteboarding
Lantau is the destination of choice for Hong Kong’s serious kite surfers. The Kiteboarding Association of Hong Kong offers IKO-approved training. kiteboarding.org.hk
If you get a touch of the green-eyed monster every time you see a mega yacht moored off Deep Wave Bay then don’t despair; your own little bit of luxury can be hired for the day. Breakaway Luxury Yachting offers plenty of options. breakawayhk.com
Spend the day finding out about Hong Kong’s aquatic history. Located at Pier 8, close to the Star Ferry dock, this museum is a good one for the whole family, with more than a dozen galleries, including a simulator that gives kids the chance to experience what it’s like to drive a ship right into Victoria Harbour! hkmaritimemuseum.org
Between 1991 and 1995, Hong Kong waters were considered some of the most dangerous in the world thanks to a series of fatal shark attacks occurring in and around the eastern waters off Sai Kung. As a result, some public beaches are now protected by shark nets.
There are 44 public swimming pools across the city, many with facilities such as kiddie pools and water slides to make a visit a fun family day out. Even better, it’s cheap as chips! lcsd.gov.hk/en/beach/swim-intro/swimlocation-hk.html
Hong Kong is home to rare pink dolphins, which are sadly facing extinction due to the threat to their habitat in the Pearl River Estuary. They can still be spotted in the waters around Hong Kong. hkdolphinwatch.com
Quality of Water
For up-to-date facts on beach grading and water quality, visit the website of the Environmental Protection department. epd.gov.hk
Chill out at a beachside bar with a holiday vibe – current faves include Limewood at Repulse Bay, Bathers at Lower Cheung Sha, and Hemingway’s in Discovery Bay.
Surfing and SUP
Hong Kong is no Bondi or Maui but it’s still possible to go surfing. Families favour Big Wave Bay for its manageable waves and beachside amenities. More serious surfers make the one-hour trek to beautiful Tai Long Wan, which is classed as the city’s best surfing beach. Try Treasure Island for a SUP day.
For a family weekend with a difference, camp out in a teepee or go glamping at one of the city’s waterfront camp sites. Sai Yuen Farm on Cheung Chau has plenty of options for a fun family camping trip. saiyuen.com/en
Hong Kong’s climate is sub-tropical, tending towards temperate for nearly half the year. As anyone who lives here will tell you, when it rains, it can pour. So, embrace it, grab some umbrellas, your wellingtons and the kids, and enjoy some good old-fashioned jumping in puddles!
Victoria Recreation Club
The Victoria Recreation Club was founded way back in 1849 as the Victoria Regatta Club, offering competitive rowing and swimming to some of the first colonials. Today, its two clubhouses – on the island and at Tai Mong Tsai – welcome families and water-sports enthusiasts. victoriarecreationclub.com.hk
Join a junk day on Hong Kong waters and you’ll likely find yourself at least attempting to wakeboard. There’s a big wakeboarding community in Hong Kong and you don’t have to be on a junk to spend the day enjoying the sport. aquabound.com.hk
XMarks the Spot
Looking for the most beautiful spot in the territory, including whites and beaches, bamboo groves, abandoned villages and rocky outcrops? You might just find it on Walk Hong Kong’s “Deserted Beaches” hike. Although it’s just 20km from Kowloon, this eighth our guided tour will make you feel like you’re worlds away. walkhongkong.com
Hong Kong is a dream posting for any expat who loves to jump aboard a yacht. The territory has numerous sailing clubs ranging from the historical and prestigious Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Causeway Bay to the lesser-known Hong Kong Hobie Club on To Tei Wan beach, facing Tai Tam Bay. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department also offers sailing courses at its five public watersports centres. rhkyc.org.hk | hobieclub.org.hk | lcsd.gov.hk
Zzzz’s with a Difference
Hong Kong’s Ocean Park is always the perfect daytime excursion but now you can extend your stay and spend the night on your very own seabed inside the world-class Grand Aquarium. This extra special sleepover includes a programme of night-time adventures, educational walks and delicacies from Neptune’s restaurant or the Panda Café. oceanpark.com.hk
See more in our Living in Hong Kong section
This article first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.