Taking a Breather on Lamma Island

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The Great Outdoors

Breathe in, breathe out…a key reason I’ve already fallen in love with Hong Kong is that there are a multitude of quick and easy ways to escape the chaos. As one example, an easy-breezy 30-minute ferry from pier 4 in Central (with a nominal fare of HKD 16, or about 2 USD) whisks you away to Lamma Island and seemingly another world entirely.

Local Hong Kongers and expats alike have taken up residence here, most likely tired of paying exorbitant HK rents and seeking a more laid-back lifestyle (at least part of the time). Lamma is a chilled-out island that blissfully doesn’t allow cars, and the residents are an offbeat mash-up of artists, hippies (yes, they exist here, too), small business owners, and white-collar types. The only harried person you may come across is a commuter who’s late for the ferry.

Just yesterday, a few fellow expats and I had the great fortune of being guided there by a lovely lady named Elise who has lived in HK for 16 years (and counting) and leads various events with the American Women’s Association of Hong Kong. A sunny day in HK at this time of year is a mixed blessing – the heat is oppressive – but I still welcomed its shining light on our brief island introduction, especially after the overhyped but still somewhat rainy effects of typhoon Usagi. After some lively conversation on the ferry with Hildy, an ‘expert expat’ (having lived abroad in multiple countries for years) and another active AWA leader, I disembarked the ferry and walked onto the peaceful (at least on a Wednesday) and colorful Yung Shue Wan pier.

Yung Shue Wan pier on Lamma Island, brimming with bikes as the main wheeled form of transport

Yung Shue Wan pier on Lamma Island, brimming with bikes as the main wheeled form of transport

Daytrippers like us mingled with island dwellers (human and canine) and a parade of small delivery vehicles on the main street. Yung Shue Wan is peppered by a few of the fresh seafood shacks Lamma is famed for, as well as western-style eateries, casual stalls selling delicious street snacks such as traditional puffed egg waffles (warning: dangerously addictive and ridiculously inexpensive), and quirky boutiques hawking everything from southeast Asian handicrafts to specialty pet goods and all sorts of in-between kitsch.

Inspecting the sea creatures on display

Inspecting the sea creatures on display on the main Yung Shue Wan street

Local crabs, with an unpleasant fate

Local crabs, with an unpleasant fate

The Chinese custom of hand-picking one's lunch victim

The Chinese custom of hand-picking one’s lunch victim

Local butcher on Yung Shue Wan

Local butcher on Yung Shue Wan

East meets west on Yung Shue Wan

East meets west on Yung Shue Wan

Local pastries (and inexplicably, hot dogs) to help you fuel up for your hike

Local pastries (and somewhat inexplicably, hot dogs) to help you fuel up before or after your explorations

Local boutique owner selling goods on Yung Shue Wan

Local boutique owner selling goods on Yung Shue Wan

The far-reaching impact of the Beatles...

The far-reaching impact of the Beatles…all the way to Lamma

Locals making a purchase on Yung Shue Wan

Locals making a purchase on Yung Shue Wan

Locals helping us find our way on Lamma

Local Lamma residents, offering us the latest update on the area

Enjoying a colorful display of goods for sale on Yung Shue Wan

Enjoying a colorful display of goods for sale on Yung Shue Wan

Locals cooling off on Yung Shue Wan

More locals, cooling off on Yung Shue Wan

A tiny Tin Hau Temple also resides here, complete with incense, ‘faux’ painted brick, and kau cim fortune sticks (more on this another time). Western-style lions stand guard, supposedly a result of hiring a mason specializing in western-style carving, after the original lions were damaged years ago. [Note: no photos are permitted inside this temple.] As Tin Hau is the goddess of the sea, it comes as no surprise that there are similar temples in other HK coastal communities.

Tin Hau Temple on Yung Shue Wan

Lions welcome you to Tin Hau Temple on Yung Shue Wan

Once off the short and charming main strip, we ventured through a quiet residential area and onto a relaxing and scenic ‘family’ (read: easy) walking trail winding through unexpectedly lush greenery and small patches of houses. Trails and landmarks are very well-marked and essentially idiot-proof. Your trusty Google Maps app can probably even take a break here on Lamma! So just relax and enjoy the scenery, tech-free (well, except for your camera perhaps).

Small shrine marking the entrance to the village

Small shrine marking the entrance to a village on Lamma

Enormous trees provide much-needed shade during your hike on Lamma

Enormous trees provide much-needed shade during your hike on Lamma

Lamma offers lush greenery and friendly locals while you hike the island

Lamma offers lush greenery and friendly locals while you hike the island

Sprawling tree roots on Lamma

Sprawling tree roots on Lamma

Hung Shing Yeh is a pleasant beach to bask in a few coastal breezes and maybe grab a quick snack or much-needed beverage from one of the friendly stalls in the area. There is a small hotel with a restaurant conveniently located right here, however reviews suggest mediocre food. With a little advance planning, you can enjoy a picnic in one of the small seating areas adjacent to the beach (although unfettered views of the power station may render your stopover a touch less romantic than you may have hoped – so take Elise’s advice to stick with the beach and set your gaze in the opposite direction!). True to HK, there was a clean-up crew on the beach when we visited, helping to keep it pristine (love it!). And if you’re stuck on the power station point – well, it has to go somewhere, and at least they have also installed a wind turbine to explore alternative energy.

Trees (and visitors) sunbathing on Hung Shing Yeh beach

Trees (and visitors) sunbathing on Hung Shing Yeh beach

Snack and beverage stalls near Hung Shing Yeh beach

Snack and beverage stalls near Hung Shing Yeh beach

A classically offbeat (and comically revised) sign, in HK's quest to keep things clean

A classically offbeat (and comically revised) sign, in HK’s much-appreciated quest to keep the area clean

With only a couple hours remaining, we decided to head back and refuel near the Yung Shue Wan pier at the Water Front Bar & Restaurant. While it’s not much to look at, we were pleasantly surprised by the lovely view of the pier from the covered terrace and the very reasonably priced and quite tasty set lunch (Indian thali, about HKD 80 or 10 USD). Curries were simple but fresh, and the naan and samosa were quite good. I highly recommend asking for their refreshing and just-sweet-enough housemade lime soda (if you’ve been hiking, you’ve earned it!). It’s not on the menu, but Hildy is savvy and knows what to ask for ’round these parts. The rest of the menu here is an eclectic mix of western dishes. If you’re just not into seafood shacks, Water Front might prove a welcome alternative.

View of Yung Shue Wan pier from the Water Front Bar & Restaurant

View of Yung Shue Wan pier from the Water Front Bar & Restaurant

Ahh…Lamma. It’s a perfect antidote to the crazy lifestyle that most of us live here. For me, it was also a well-timed contrast to the fantastic but hectic Mid-Autumn Festival (see my post on the Festival here).

Lamma has so much more to offer, so it was tough for me to leave. More hiking trails, beaches, farmland, and fishing and other small villages await discovery! Fortunately, it’s so incredibly easy to visit here. Just go on a weekday if you can, to avoid the weekend wave of other like-minded daytrippers. And go soon – as with much of HK, Lamma is not immune to HK’s relentless cycle of development.

Stay tuned for a future post after my next visit!

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Click here for more information on Lamma.

Ferry timetables can be found here. Note: you can enter Lamma via either Yung Shue Wan or another area called Sok Kwu Wan.

For the ladies – especially if you’re an expat, I recommend checking out the local American Women’s Association (you need not be American!).  They host very informative, well-organized, and fun talks, tours, social/professional networking/community service opportunities, and special events.

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Globetrotter based in Hong Kong, travel and street photographer, Getty Images contributor, award-winning blogger of WanderFong.com - seeking true beauty in travel and life!

7 thoughts on “Taking a Breather on Lamma Island”

      • Very relaxing, greener than I expected, little surprises around every corner (seems to be a common theme for HK!). I definitely have to get to Taiwan to explore – I’ve heard (and read through your blog) wonderful things.

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  1. You’ve captured much of the essence of Lamma Island perfectly! I was just there on Monday and love, love, loved it! I hope to visit another time and just stay on the island for a few days. For a small island, there is so much to explore!

    Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

    (P.S. Taiwan IS great!)

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    • Thanks very much! We’ll be back on Lamma soon, I’m sure. I agree, so much to see still. I want to experience/capture even more. Look forward to seeing more of your posts, also! Thanks for stopping by..

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