Family holidays at home are the name of the game this summer. We head off to High Island in Hong Kong's New Territories for a swim and a seafood lunch.
Messing about in boats at High Island seafood restaurant.
High Island, also known as Yau Lei, is located inside the beautiful Sai Kung Country Park in Hong Kong’s New Territories. However, the 'island' moniker is something of a misnomer as the area is in fact linked to the mainland.
Worth noting before you begin planning your day is that Sai Kung Country Park is not accessible to vehicles other than green taxis, unless of course you hold a residents’ car permit.
The drawcard for High Island is its yummy seafood restaurant and stunning scenery. Expect plates filled with noodles, fried rice, steamed fish and seafood, fried tofu and sweet and sour pork and chicken dishes (plus plenty of fries and ice creams for discerning littlies), all overlooking a cute beach and a sheltered bay.
Even if you do possess a country park permit, there is no car access to High Island. The options for reaching the restaurant are to hike in from Sai Kung Country Park Gates and Visitor Centre at Pak Tam Chung (there’s a car park here, although arrive early on weekends as it fills up quickly), or to grab a speedboat or sampan from Sai Kung New Pier.
Views over High Island Reservoir from the hiking trail.
The hike is around an hour-and-a-half in length and is paved throughout, with some inclines, and is entirely child-friendly. We'd recommend it for kids aged around seven and up. Some sections are unshaded so do top up with sun screen and grab sun hats and caps before you set off.
The first section starts at Sai Kung Country Park Gates and follows the MacLehose Trail Stage One (which is predominantly a tarmac road), meandering alongside High Island Reservoir for around five kilometres until you turn off at the signpost for Pak A village. It's a pretty route with fabulous views over High Island Reservoir to one side and the islands of Kau Sai Chau and Tai Tau Chau in Sai Kung's Port Shelter to the other. If you have children who are resistant to too much hiking, take a green taxi to the Pak A turn-off.
Once you reach the turn-off for Pak A, head down the paved steps and at the bottom take the left fork heading for Tung A.
Follow the sign to Pak A village.
This gentle, off-road but paved section takes you alongside the water, past Sea Urchin Restaurant and on to the impressive Tin Hau Temple at Leung Shuen Wan. There’s also an abandoned village house on the water’s edge which is worth a look, with trees creeping through the roof and crockery and furniture still in place as nature gradually takes over.
Yau Lei Seafood Restaurant is at the end of the trail and boasts a jetty for jumping off and a small, sandy beach. Don’t forget swimmers and towels.
If you don’t fancy the hike back, speedboats or sampans to Sai Kung New Pier can be booked through the restaurant. Just contact Simon on WhatsApp +852 9658 8001.