At play in Hong Kong's back garden: 8 sporty activities in Sai Kung for all the family
The district's fitness buffs suggest ways the whole family can stay fit
Sai Kung is often described as the "last back garden" of Hong Kong, with its charming small villages, expansive country parks and pristine beaches. It's not only a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, but home to many of the city's fitness industry folks.
With the help of these fitness buffs and local charity group Sai Kung Pink Ladies, we've rounded up eight fun and fit things to do in the district.
An extensive network of flat cycle paths connect Tseung Kwan O town centre with the Sai Kung seafront, Lohas Park, Hang Hau and Po Lam, which makes it perfect for novice cyclists or family cycling expeditions, says personal trainer Tim Stevens of BaseCamp.
For the more adventurous, Stevens, a keen cyclist, recommends packing a picnic and plenty of water, and cycling along the Sai Kung seafront all the way up and past Tai Po to Plover Cove.
Get up, stand up
A 10-minute walk north along the Sai Kung promenade will bring you to Sha Ha beach, where you can rent stand-up paddleboards from Blue Sky Sports Club. The shallow and calm waters make it an ideal place to pick up and practise the trendy surf-inspired sport.
If you're ready for some competition, sign up for Splash 2015 on June 13, facebook.com/keensplash15 a parent-child relay race that involves stand-up paddle boarding and swimming.
Hiking the hills around Clear Water Bay is a weekend ritual for Stefanie Hemshall, founder of local sports chain Escapade. She recommends following a trail from Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre, up along the ridge line of the mountains, down along the beaches and finishing with a coffee at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club.
"The last stretch of road towards our village [in Po Toi O] winds through lush green hills and boasts a stunning view of the ocean," says Hemshall. "Amazing that it's only 30 minutes away from the concrete jungle that is Causeway Bay."
Swap your stuffy yoga studio for some fresh air with instructor Emma Linnit of The Yoga House. On New Year's Day this year, for example, she held a yoga class on top of Pyramid Hill in Ma On Shan Country Park that offers a panoramic view over Sai Kung.
Other recent classes took place on Trio Beach, following a hike from Hong Kong Marina and Shelter Cove Yacht Club around the headland.
Camping at Long Ke Wan
Long Ke Wan is a silky sand beach tucked away in Sai Kung East Country Park near High Island Reservoir and along stage two of the Maclehose Trail.
Dayle Haigh-Smith, founder of Outdoor Fitness and voted "fitness trainer of the year 2014" by Sai Kung Magazine, enjoys hiking and camping at Long Ke Wan with her two daughters, husband and dogs. Make sure you're entirely self-sufficient for food, water and shelter if you plan to head out there.
Mums and bubs workout
Fresh from having a baby and trying to shed the pregnancy weight? Take your baby and the buggy and join in BabyCircuit's mother-baby workout session.
Led by post-natal fitness expert Sarah Robinson, the class begins with full-body circuit training for the mums while the babies are left in a play area. Then it's on to exercises incorporating the baby and buggy, perfect for bonding with the little one and toning up simultaneously.
Way to geo
Get a different perspective of Sai Kung - and Hong Kong - by exploring the Sai Kung Geopark by kayak. Paul Etherington of Kayak and Hike has a day tour that starts off with a boat ride from Sai Kung old pier to a kayak base at nearby Bluff Island.
Once in the two-person watercraft, you'll paddle around the peninsula and to uninhabited islands, exploring sea cliffs, caves and rock formations. There'll also be an opportunity to jump off the kayak for swimming and snorkelling.
Take a swing
Hong Kong's only public golf course is also arguably the most scenic. Set in the Sai Kung Peninsula and a 15-minute ferry ride from Sai Kung waterfront, Kau Sai Chau has three 18-hole golf courses that are almost always booked. Not just a hotspot for golfers, the 250-hectare Kau Sai Chau is also an environmental sanctuary, with eagles, egrets, pond herons and the occasional barking deer.
Meet some of Sai Kung's fitness buffs tomorrow at Sundowners by the Bay, a charity event at Hebe Haven Yacht Club hosted by Sai Kung Pink Ladies to raise awareness and funds for the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. The sports personalities will be strutting their stuff on a fashion catwalk, and there will also be a raffle and silent auction. From 6.30pm, HK$270 or HK$470 (includes dinner), email [email protected] for details