If you’re heading to Hong Kong this summer, you’ll have to brace yourself for oppressive humidity and sizzling temperatures. But don’t let that keep you from exploring the territory’s beautiful beaches, back-to-nature hiking trails and oceanfront restaurants.
Tai Long Wan
Tucked away on the eastern side of the Sai Kung peninsula, Tai Long Wan is almost always referred to as Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. It’s relatively untouched, thanks to its hard-to-access location — you have to either hike or take a boat (about US$38 from Sai Kung) to get there.
While it can be a sweaty hike in June or July, a 90-minute trek (starting from Sai Wan Pavilion) will reward you with clear waters, soft sand and few people in sight. The farther you hike, the more pristine the beaches become — from Sai Wan to Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan and Tung Wan. Just be sure to pack snacks and beverages, as there are very few places to stop along the way.
Hong Kong Global Geopark
Another hidden gem in the New Territories is Hong Kong’s natural wonder, the Geopark. This far-flung enclave is full of boulders and otherworldly rock formations formed by volcanic eruptions.
Dating back millions of years, the Geopark is often a welcome surprise to travelers who picture Hong Kong as nothing more than a dense urban jungle — this site, a part of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network, is just one of many examples of the territory’s natural beauty. You can explore it on foot or by boat, although the latter offers the best views of the rock formations.
Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
If all the outdoor activity becomes too much for you, lazing around the pool is always a solid option. Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Grand Hyatt Hong Kong is home to one of the most famous resort decks in the city, boasting excellent harbor views and a 164-foot-long pool. Its Waterfall Bar is popular with travelers looking for a mid-day tipple, and there’s almost always a daily welcome drink to keep you cool.
If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still get access to the facilities with a day pass or spoil yourself with a treatment at the Four-Star spa and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Shek O back beach
A favorite hideaway among surfers and longtime residents, Shek O back beach offers a quieter alternative to the main stretch of sand where taxis normally drop you. The back beach is easy to get to, though, as it sits just a five-minute walk northeast of Shek O village.
Elsewhere in the charming little neighborhood, you’ll find a clutch of amazing Thai restaurants, neighborhood watering holes and a beachfront cocktail bar, Cococabana, serving classier fare. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike Dragon’s Back, starting in Chai Wan War Cemetery over to the South Side, and reward yourself with a few cool beers and a dip in the ocean.
A newly opened lifestyle complex along Repulse Bay Beach, The Pulse is packed with terrific dining and shopping options. Several of the restaurants face the sprawling beach, making for a great break from the waves. A number of casual eateries, such as Limewood and Hot Shot, anchor the ground floor, while The Ocean, a few floors up, offers fine dining in fanciful, underwater-inspired surroundings.
After lunch, treat yourself to some Lab Made ice cream, which uses liquid nitrogen to create its creative gourmet flavors.
Farther from the crowds, Palm Beach on Lantau Island has it all: kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding, skim boarding, windsurfing and camping galore. Outdoorsy types can huddle up in rented hand-painted teepees that come complete with barbecue grills, outdoor bonfire pits and air-conditioning.
The gorgeous outdoor property stretches across a plot of beautiful Cheung Sha beach, one of the more picturesque and quieter coves in Hong Kong. Look up Mavericks bar on nearby Pui O Beach while you’re in the neighborhood.
Palm Beach is undergoing renovations at the moment but will reopen with brand-new digs in late 2016.