Dubbed the 4x4 of the seas, the RIB (rigid inflatable boat) is a vessel special forces and rescue services use when they need to cross large expanses of water quickly. It’s a craft you’d associate more with a James Bond chase than a day trip – but Zoom Ribs founder Nigel Davis hopes to change that.
Davies, who grew up on the seas around Britain’s Isles of Scilly, says his adventure tour company is the first to commercially operate an RIB in Hong Kong.
“RIBs offer a completely different experience to the traditional Hong Kong junk trip,” he says. “We can get to lovely places really quickly and see bits of Hong Kong that most people don’t see – whether from the land or the water.”
Made of fibreglass, the boat is designed to be sturdy, safe and comfortable at high speeds. Powered by a low-emission 280-horsepower engine, it travels about five times faster than the average junk, and twice the speed of a typical speedboat, says Davis, who moved to Hong Kong 16 years ago and has sailed across the South China Sea seven times. This means it’s ideal for whisking passengers to remote places that are out of range for most junk cruises and sightseers.
On the trip we joined, thrill-seeking guests jumped off the boat to swim, climb and explore the volcanic rock formations, caves and tiny coves of the Hong Kong Geopark, in east Sai Kung. Another itinerary takes you around South Lantau, beating the crowds to picturesque Tai O fishing village, while shorter options include one-hour, family-friendly excursions around Hong Kong’s South Side and harbour. All begin in Aberdeen unless otherwise arranged.
“I love coming to work,” says Davis. “It’s amazing that you can be in a massive urban centre and within half an hour you can be in a completely wild, remote place and have it all to yourself. Most people who haven’t explored Hong Kong by water don’t realise the opportunities that are out there.”
The boat comfortably carries nine people (11 at a squeeze), and prices range from HK$500 per person for a one-hour Southside Spin to HK$1,600 per person for a full-day excursion to the Ninepin Islands, Sai Kung and Tung Ping Chau.
For more information, visit zoomribs.hk.