Five top destinations for a Hong Kong junk trip
From the beaches and bays of Sai Kung to islands dotted around Hong Kong, there's no shortage of places to go on a junk
Summer’s arrived, so it's high time we tapped the minds of Hong Kong’s junk boat junkies and junk operators to find out the best spots to drop anchor and the latest ideas for onboard fun.
They came up with a shortlist of five places to go - but it's not an exclusive list: junk trippers who want to drop anchor somewhere secluded just need to ask their boat's skipper for recommendations. “There’re a lot of small beaches and alcoves that are not even named on the map, so it’s good to let the skipper plan the route, especially if there are weather conditions to consider,” says Angus Harris, a skipper at Hong Kong Yachting.
And remember, take only memories (not shells and other things that belong in nature) and leave only footprints (not loads of rubbish).
1. The Ninepin Group
This cluster of 29 islands in the eastern waters of Hong Kong, known for its ancient rocks, is becoming a junk hot spot – and for good reason. The sculpted rock formations - shaped by weather and erosion, and possibly a volcanic eruption near Sai Kung about 140 million years ago, says the Hong Kong Geopark - are a must-see. Depending on the weather and currents, the ride can be a bit choppy, but it's well worth it. “You can swim to a little beach and hike up to a small temple/shrine. "We did that once and popped a bottle of champers on the top of the rock. It was gorgeous – with an expansive view out to sea from the other side,” says regular junk-goer Amy Russell.
Who to go with: Lazy Days (lazydays.com.hk) is a 60ft motor cruiser with toys such as a six-person inflatable lounger, floating bean bags and - new this season - SUP boards which can be turned into kayaks. As for food, the boat caters to all tastes, serves home-made bread, and can accommodate special dietary requirements such as for dairy-free or gluten-free menus. “We serve bubbly all day and a selection of craft beers, ales and ciders which you won’t find on other operators,” says co-owner Irene Moore. It costs HK$15,000 to hire the boat (for seven daytime hours or four hours in the evening), captain and crew; you also get unlimited supplies of ice. For an extra HK$3,000, Lazy Days can arrange an onboard masseuse. On weekdays, Lazy Days can do trips to the Lamma Fisherman’s Village, where guests can catch their own fish for lunch.
2. Po Toi
A few kilometres southeast of Hong Kong Island, Po Toi has long been a popular destination for junk-goers, who like to drop anchor and take a dip in the sheltered main cove. The island is famous for its rock carvings and granite headland where cliffs drop away to the South China Sea.
Who to go with: Hong Kong Yachting (hongkongyachting.com) has the party junk scene cornered, with a fleet that includes traditional junks, sailing boats and cruisers. The pick of its fleet are Jungle Jane (which carries 45 people, cost HK$19,800) and Tarzan (55 people; HK$25,000), the latter a new addition. "We added a giant game of [board game] Twister to the fun,” says yachting manager Angus Harris, who earlier this year sailed more than 5,000 nautical miles to bring Tarzan from Australia to its new home in Aberdeen. The boats boast day beds, beanbags, water slides, sophisticated sound systems and an inflatable obstacle course.
Where to eat: Harris says Ming Kee Restaurant on the main Po Toi bay dishes up the best seafood in Hong Kong. “The calamari is the best I’ve tasted.” Be sure to book ahead. Ming Kee Restaurant, Tai Wan, tel: 2849 7038
3. Tai Long Wan
Without doubt Hong Kong’s most spectacular beach, Tai Long Wan, on the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula, is the place for a great escape. There are four beaches in the bay – Sai Wan (West Bay), Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan (Big Bay) and Tung Wan (East Bay) – and all have white sand and clear blue waters.
Who to go with: For long-haul cruises (Hebe Haven in Sai Kung to Tai Long Wan takes 90 minutes), do it in style on board the Michelangelo (luxuryjunk.com.hk). This meticulously restored 80ft classic motor yacht is all mahogany, teak, brass and copper – more gentleman’s club than leisure boat. The vessel can accommodate up to 59 passengers and prices start from HK$24,000. Catered menus range from seated private dinners, buffets for larger groups and cocktail parties (it’s in partnership with catering firm Gingers and also has a private chef). Best of all, parties of up to nine can stay the night on board. The master cabin offers a king size bed, en-suite bathroom, and his and her desks. There are four additional guest cabins: two doubles, a single and a bunk bed cabin – "a favourite for the little ones," says owner Beatrice Schoeb. After a last swim, drinks are served on the upper deck so guests can enjoy the sunset.
4. Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau is a windsurfer’s paradise. Local windsurfer Lee Lai-shan won Hong Kong's first Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
Who to go with: Island Junks (islandjunks.com.hk) sails to Cheung Chau, among other places. The company has kayaks, speedboats and SUP boards available, and has recently added a super party boat to its fleet.
Where to eat: East Lake Restaurant (“The salt and pepper prawns are amazing,” one long-time resident of the island says). The restaurant (tel: 2981 3869) recently moved to 51-55 Sun Hing Street.
5. Nam Fung Wan (Millionaire's Beach)
Pristine waters are the big attraction of this popular junk destination in Sai Kung Country Park. It’s great for snorkelling, while adventure seekers can explore the freshwater lagoons and hidden coves. Warning: this bay can get busy during high season for junk trips.
Who to go with: Jaspa’s Junks (casteloconcepts.com) has long been a popular choice - which may have something to do with the seemingly never-ending supply of sea breeze cocktails.
Where to eat: If you didn’t arrange onboard catering, head to the Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant on High Island (yauleyseafood.com.hk). This family-run restaurant has been a junk lovers’ hot spot for years and is famous for its fresh seafood (most comes from local fishermen). They only take cash. Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant, Sha Kiu Tsuen, High Island, Sai Kung, tel: 2791 1822