Elvis Presley warbled about heavenly nights, the moon on the water and dreams coming true in Blue Hawaii. As far as I know he never starred in a movie called Paradise Sai Kung Style, but you can make up for the King's reckless omission by sporting that embarrassing floral sports shirt you bought in Phuket, decorating yourself with a lei of nylon flowers and leaping over the gunwales for the Mai Tai Water Tour off Hong Kong's eastern seaboard. Mambo threads aside, this brave (or foolhardy) scheme has, if not startling potential, the potential to startle: a Hawaiian cruise 8,880km from Oahu, on a former ferry built for 140 passengers operated in a dauntless attempt to relieve mainland tourists, few of whom visit Sai Kung anyway, of their holiday money. But if you and your visitors, be they from the mainland or Manchester, are game, there is nothing to stop you having an Elvis-inspired whale of a time, particularly when it becomes clear the Hawaiian connection with Sai Kung was not made by a canoe-load of navigationally challenged Polynesians who came to trade shells, but a Hong Kong-born Australian who likes to push the boat out. Sai Kung may not be the first place that bounds into your brain when you think of grass skirts, ukuleles, mai tai cocktails and women with bras made of coconut halves. This is an aberration on your part, because parked in Sai Kung harbour most of the time is a vessel psychedelically garish enough not just to dazzle any passing U-boat commander, but to convince him he has inadvertently dropped acid. This is the Mai Tai, a double-deck transport of delight tarted up in a colour scheme of yellow, blue and two shades of pink, with large crimson, blue and purple hibiscuses on the superstructure. If you're not disorientated simply standing on the jetty, you will be as soon as you leave dry land. Step onto either deck and you step into a floating disco that rocks to the rhythm of ukulele and steel guitar. Sadly the music is piped, not live, but there are other distractions, such as flashing paper lanterns in a rainbow of hues, bamboo and coiled rope fittings - some adorning an aft bar - reproduction travel posters and grotesque South Sea Islanders' carved wooden death masks rendered in wobbly plastic. All this, not forgetting the welcome cocktail (non-alcoholic, so not much of a mai tai) puts you in the mood for ... volcanic islands? Bands of roaring, chest-thumping scantily attired native warriors firing burning arrows? Hula-hula girls? Not quite. Instead, step ashore - in tropical shirt and garland - 20 minutes from Sai Kung at Yim Tin Tsai. Here, despite your garb, the tour parts company with its premise, all Hawaiian pretensions and references being suspended until you're back on board. The merry party people follow the tour leaders - the girls in cosmic-orange shirts from whom they bought their tickets on Sai Kung pier - up a hill to Yim Tin Tsai village to view the clapped-out salt pans on which the island's economy was once based, and a settlement abandoned so rapidly cardigans still hang in wardrobes. The stroll continues up to St Joseph's Chapel, constructed 150 years ago, shorn of its bell by the Japanese and gleamingly rebuilt last year. It's hard to know from where the church draws its congregation, however, serving as it does a ghost town. The village is also the point at which the tour guides reveal the limitations of their professional training. How long ago had these houses, with their television sets and leatherette sofas, been abandoned, I wondered. 'About 100 years ago,' I was confidently informed. 'What about the two-room school belonging to the church, when was that built?' 'Oh, about 100 years ago.' 'I see. And this rusty pickaxe head on the classroom window ledge, how old is that?' 'Hmm. About 100 years.' Driven from the village by the constraints of a half-hour stop and the fearsome weaponry of the Sai Kung Mosquito Air Force dive-bombing wing, we took our finery off to the second and ultimate port of call, Kau Sai fishermen's village on Kau Sai Chau. The highlight of the visit is the chance to inspect Hung Shing Temple - if you don't count chatting to the old Hakka women drying loaves of sliced bread on the single street. Apparently the bread makes excellent bait and is nobly donated, when past its sell-by date, by Sai Kung bakeries. It seems fish aren't fussy. Hung Shing Temple was built in 1889 and remodelled thereafter, but its most recent renovation, in 2000, was accomplished so sensitively that Unesco bestowed upon it an Outstanding Project Award (Asia-Pacific Heritage category). The other places villagers go for fun are the spiny urchin beds in a shallow sea channel and the small zone of pontoons just offshore, where anglers sit with fishing rods and no doubt curse when the Mai Tai sails in and out twice a day, frightening away the fish. From Kau Sai Chau it's a half-hour sail back to Sai Kung and a final opportunity to do all your bad Elvis impersonations. Brad Gotfried, the man with a Hawaiian plan that also extends to converting the former Beach Hotel into a homage to Honolulu, and the money behind a resort's worth of existing and projected east-side restaurants and bars, recently began operating Victoria Harbour cruises using his second 'flower-power' ship, and reportedly envisages an eventual, 11-strong fleet. This may be a touch optimistic given that our recent Saturday lunchtime voyage realised a total of five fare-paying passengers. There is no accounting for mainland taste and it remains to be seen whether the Mouse-mad mob will extend its largesse to the other side of Hong Kong. Its historical asides may give the Mai Tai Water Tour a slightly cerebral edge, but the balance sheet may soon advise Gotfried to sink the island hopping and dedicate his floating fun palaces to some serious corporate and holiday partying. His seaside U-boat shockers even have ready-made dance floors masquerading as rear open decks. What better bacchanalian venue than a pleasure boat on an all-night loop beneath the stars? Are you lonesome tonight? Fear not: glug a mai tai and get lei-ed. Setting sail: The two-and-a-half hour Mai Tai Water Tour operates twice daily, with departures from Sai Kung pier. Tickets usually cost $200, but are on offer at $99 for adults and $49 for children. For details call 2791 5000.