A typical day in Hong Kong would inevitably include never-ending masses of people bumping, shoving and pushing you through the crowds. This city never sleeps and doesn’t know the meaning of “pause”. It can be overwhelming at times, especially during the sweaty summer season, traveling step-by-step and skin-on-skin can be a little too much. From the intense outdoor sun ray to the spine-chilling indoor air-conditioning, at some point your nerves and senses might need a break.
Hong Kong is one of the densest inhabited cities on Earth and she is obviously very compact. Surrounded by natural resources, the country’s topography provides opportunities to visit unique destinations outside of the city. One of these destinations is Shek O; a fun, relaxed and hip holiday beachside village located on the southeastern part of Hong Kong Island. With its gorgeous beaches, magnificent vibe and crystal clear waters, it is definitely worth a visit!
Getting to Shek O
In order to reach Shek O, you will first need to take The Island metro line to Shau Kei Wan. From the Shau Kei Wan bus terminus, you will hop on bus number 9 and don’t worry, it is impossible to go the wrong direction. If possible, sit on the top floor of the double-decker so you can consume the beautiful and soothing scenery of nature, hills, the ocean and villages opening up to you. Alternatively, you can call yourself a taxi from Shau Kei Wan or grab one standing by. The drive will take approximately 20 minutes, perfect to feel all that city stress literally peel off you as you listen to those beautiful beaches calling your name and waiting for the final stop of Shek O.
Where is the beach?
The inhabitants and visitors of Shek O are extremely friendly and laid back, so they will definitely make you feel warm and welcome. You don’t need to plan too much; you can always ask the next person and they are more than happy to help. Time becomes slower with every step you take.
There are several beaches in Shek O, but the main beach is the one that you should head for. A mere five minute walk from the bus stop, you simply need to follow the road and turn east on the junction- simple and straight forward. In case you have developed a rumbling hunger, you may check out the barbecued meats, shrimps and vegetables that you will see along your way to the beach. Costing around 15 Hong Kong Dollars (under USD2) per piece, they make a great beach snack.
There is a lot to love about the main beach. It is spacious, clean, filled with life and very heated! If your plan is to lie in the sun and not turn alarmingly red, then renting a sunshade is highly recommended. Take the 60 HKD (approximately USD8) rental fee as an investment for saving your skin. Now you can just relax and enjoy this beach paradise, with its crystal clear waters, shark nets for safety and joyful visitors. It is no wonder that Shek O is such a popular summer getaway.
Dining in Shek O
If you do not feel like snacking on meat sticks and corn all day, Shek O offers a variety of cuisines. In this small village, there are various restaurants located just a few minutes away from wherever you are. Located around the beach area are options of Thai, Western, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. For upscale dining, you may consider Cococabana, which is located on the beach. Its premium pricing makes it almost exclusive, as the majority of Shek O tends to seek more budget-friendly options.
It is also popular to bring your own barbecue and grill on the spot. Practised by a large number of people, it is a nice way to relax and socialise. There are two areas reserved for this purpose on the sides of the main beach. Also, you can buy your own barbecue products from the small shops in Shek O. Be it morning, day or night; there is always time for all times a right for a delicious summer barbecue.
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The final rule for your Shek O experience
The final rule is that you don’t visit Shek O without grabbing a drink at Back Ben’s Beach Bar. Recognised by many as one of the best beach bars in Hong Kong, this is definitely a must-visit! Before you visualise an image of a huge terrace, fancy cocktails and beach-goers who dress to impress waitresses, think again. You don’t need to worry about a dress code here.
With its down-to-earth customers, inexpensive drinks and live radio, you can breathe in deep and continue your mission to relax. Back Ben’s Beach Bar may be a little tricky to find, since the most direct way goes through the maze of Shek O’s housing. It is located next to the “back” beach of Shek O, but you can ask anyone after 6pm. Everyone knows Back Ben’s and are most likely heading towards the same direction.
Extend your stay!
In case you get overpowered by the seduction of sleep, you may consider bringing an emergency tent. No worries about being arrested, as camping is common, especially during the summer. This way you will gain a bonus; another revitalising day in this beach paradise. The word of caution being, that you may end up staying far longer than you had planned for.
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