Although many are blinded by the glitz and glitter of Victoria Harbour or drawn in by the Westernized nightlife or cowed by the constant crowds of Kowloon, Hong Kong as an adventure destination is considerably more of a reality than many may think. Situated on an archipelago of sorts, those willing to leave the hive of urban Hong Kong will find that many of the nearby islands, as well as niches of Hong Kong Island itself, are great destinations for a traveler who values vast seascapes and ridge-line treks over the seedy solicitations and steel buttresses found on avenues around the city.
In most cases, finding an adventure will mean escaping both Hong Kong and Kowloon, although those willing to do a little exploring can actually find a bit of quiet without leaving the main island, especially along the southern coast. This is where the best beaches are, including Repulse Bay, Big Wave Bay (for surfers and kitesurfers) and Stanley Beach. A better variety of activities can be had at Shek O, a small community within a nature park. Paragliding and hiking are popular here from Dragon's Back ridge, as well as swimming in the nearby waters.
Hong Kong's outlying islands are viable adventure options as well. Some of these islands have caught the resort bug and are becoming ever-sterilized experiences, while others, like Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Tung Ping Chau still cling to their authentic roots. Lamma is a charming, pedestrian-only area of fisherfolk, while Cheung Chau is a blissful combination of day hikes and great beaches. The intrigue of tiny Tung Ping Chau are the rocky cliffs and tide pools; uninhabited during the week, this small spit of land comes alive on the weekends.
Other ways to get away from the city within the span of the day include the New Territories north of Kowloon, which are notable for a handful of nature parks best explored by way of the lengthy Maclehose Trail. The Sai Kung peninsula and High Island Reservoir are premiere areas touched on by the trail; don't limit yourself to hiking, though, these spots are also great for diving, swimming, and even spelunking.
Surprised, are you? If you're willing to make an escape from one of the most highly concentrated areas of population on Earth, you'll find plenty of serenity and breathtaking adventure most times just a mere ferry ride away. Take a look at our activity listings for more details.