Along Lamma Island’s rugged coastline, there are numerous tiny beaches and about 10 major bays (‘wan’ in Chinese). From Central or Aberdeen, you can choose to arrive at Yung ShueWan in the northwest, or Sok Kwu Wan towards southeast. The easiest way is to start on the main road, and then choose your points of interest from the street signs, indicated with duration on foot. You might not have enough time to explore the entire island, but you can definitely enjoy the major sights with a bit of planning.
A booth at the Sok Kwu Wan pier sells shuttle boat tickets to the Lamma Fisherfolk Village, where I make my first stop. The traditional fishing community lives in floating homes on the still waters of Sok Kwu Wan. The superstructures are typically made of wood, where sleeping and cooking take place in the same room. A small refrigerator and large ceramic pots provide food storage. A large window lets in plenty of daylight and a light bulb provides illumination in the evenings when neighbours would gather for a simple dinner and a smoke.
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If this is not your first time in Hong Kong, then you might already be familiar with the Goddess of the Seafarers temples around town. You will find one just south of the Sok Kwu Pier, and a half-hour walk along the coast from here takes you to a perfectly preserved kamikaze cave, where a plaque marks the spot. While you cannot go down there, it is a vivid reminder of the Japanese invasion when several thousand troops were stationed here. Take a break at a lookout nearby, and if you look straight across the waters, you will spot Hong Kong’s southern-most tip where Ocean Park is located.
The north-western part of the Island presents an even greater contrast of old and new. There is a power station near Yung Shue Wan (‘Banyan Tree Bay’) and uphill are Hong Kong’s first wind turbines generating green energy. From here, you can choose to hike or bike your way north to see more local life, but if you are short on time, like I am, I’d go for the local seafood in the village. A quick price comparison and a glance at the numbers of diners at the restaurants should give you an idea of which one to go for. There are also eateries and cafés that make a great pitstop. Have an ice-tea sweetened with local honey or a freshly-opened young coconut.
In a city where real estate commands exorbitant prices, the sight of old abandoned stone cottages on this island is almost surreal, their tiled rooftops peeking through dense exotic forests where bananas and papayas are ripening. As I revel in the view, suddenly an all-terrain vehicle with a red cross whizzes along the narrow road, followed by a tiny ambulance. In the distance, I hear a helicopter taking off (or is it landing?), a reminder that the hustle and bustle of the city are not far away, after all.
How to get to Lamma Island:
From Central or Aberdeen to Sok Kwu Wan or Yung Shue Wan
For more information: Discover Hong Kong site