Splish splash! While the only wet we’ve been getting lately is from the constant rain and showers, we’re optimistic the sun’s gonna come out tomorrow! And when it does, you’ll be ready mamas, with our round-up of the best beaches and swimming pools across the SAR. We’ve got loads of choices when it comes to beating the heat in Hong Kong, with miles of beaches plus the oodles of public pools – many of which are loaded with insanely fun water features like, say, a 3-story twisty slide. So grab the kids and lather up the sunblock ’cause here’s peek at our favourite places to take a dip.
TEN GREAT FAMILY-FRIENDLY BEACHES IN HONG KONG
With over 200 islands around Hong Kong, we’ve got beaches galore to choose from. Here’s the short list of some that are super for families.
Big Wave Bay
So what if it doesn’t always live up to its name? A hit with local surfers (it’s Hong Kong’s only designated surfing beach), here you’ll find the usual like good facilities and lifeguards, plus board rentals as well as lessons if the kiddos want to hang ten or boogie board. Grab a bite at one of the nearby noodle stalls or the yummy Eric’s Kitchen which serves up child-friendly Western dishes – and before you leave bring the kids to see the nearby Bronze Age rock carvings, a declared heritage site.
Cheung Sha Beach
Launtau is of course a great day trip for beach-goers and its southern coast has some fabulous sandy beaches – between the views of the South China Sea in front of you and the scenic hills behind you you’ll feel a million miles from the bustle of Central. We especially love Cheung Sha, the island’s longest beach, which is well-equipped with the usual suspects, as well as pavilions to escape the blazing sun. Kids will love the ferry ride (hop on at Central pier 6 for Mui Wo), and you’ll love that Cheung Sha Village has lots of great chilled out beachside restaurants and cafes – The Stoep is especially family-friendly.
Chung Hum Kok Beach
The playground here makes this beach a top spot for families with younger kids and it also gets bonus points for never really being that crowded – despite its convenient location and proximity to Stanley. Here you’ll also find the typical amenities like lifeguards, picnic tables, changing rooms, toilets, etc. Did we mention it gets good shade too? And if you have anything left in you at the end of the day, pop into Stanely for an early dinner on your way home – ‘cause who wants to cook a meal after a lazy day in the sun?
Clear Water Bay Second Beach
Clear Water Bay in the New Territories has two popular, sheltered beaches, very aptly named First Beach and Second Beach. Our fave though is Second Beach which is a bit more scenic and offers more of the perks that families need (though note there are stairs that you need to take to get the beach so ditch the stroller – which can’t take the sand anyway). Here you’ll get everything you expect in terms of facilities like showers, toilets, picnic tables and a lifeguard, as well as little extras like a snack shack that also rents beach umbrellas.
Pui O, another great Lantau option just down the way from Cheung Sh, is a choice spot for families with its calm water and shallow surf. Beyond the gorgeous backdrop and mini holiday feel that comes with Lantau’s beaches, another reason to hit up Pui O is Ooh La La, an alfresco restaurant with tasty smoothies and burgers for the kids – and jugs of sangria for you. Just be sure to book a table in advance to avoid disappointment. Its beachside location means itchy kids can head back out to play while you linger a bit longer – which is what you’ll want to do. (Psst – if you want to make this a real staycation, you can camp the night at Ooh La La which supplies all the gear you need).
Repulse Bay Beach
One of HK’s most accessible beaches means it’s also one of the most popular with both locals and tourists (read, mega crowded). But it’s got everything you need – and vendors with things you forgot (umbrellas, sand toys). Take a break from the beach at the playground and be sure to toss a coin into the mouth of the fish statue for good luck at the Tin Hau Temple before you head home. If you’re not into the snack shack thing, head up the way to The Repulse Bay shopping area which has a supermarket as well as great restaurants like the Verandah and Spices (both of which need reservations).
Considered by many to be the ‘best beach’ on the island, here you’ll find great sand, lifeguards, and a scenic view overlooking the small island of Ng Fan Chau in Island Bay. We love the mellow vibe in the village, and with the beachside cafes (Thai-Chinese right in the rotary is seriously YUM), changing and shower facilities, plus lifeguard duty, this always a top pick. (Warning – you probably won’t get past that little shop of beach toys and inflatables at the corner of the parking lot without picking a few things up).
St Stephen’s Beach, Stanley
Stanley’s ‘other’ beach, this is a quiet and more secluded stretch compared with the Main Beach. It’s got lifeguards, a snack bar, changing room…and shade!
Though it’s the most convenient beach in Sai Kung, Trio is still secluded ….ok, it’s remote. We admit it is a trek to get to – but hey, it involves a sampan ride! And once you get there, the combination of calm water and soft sand – not to mention mellow beachy dining options, BBQ pits, and the standard public beach amenities – makes this a great day trip with the kids. Bonus: it’s also a beach that consistently is at the top of the Environmental Protection Department’s rankings of water quality.
Out past the Tai Tam Reservoir is this tucked away cute little beach. Its calm water, facilities, and kiddie playground make it a great family spot. The only downside is the set of 200 stairs or so that lead from the road to the beach, so make note before you throw the kitchen sink in your beach bag.
FIVE GREAT FAMILY-FRIENDLY PUBLIC POOLS IN HONG KONG
Did you know there a total of 41 public swimming pool complexes in Hong Kong? While the majority of these are on HK Island and in Kowloon, don’t count out the ones in the New Territories just yet. They are just ‘that’ much further from the icky smog and many offer nice views to the sea and mountains – and many are much less crowded. Day-trip, anyone? You can get the lowdown on Hong Kong’s many public pools here.
*Insider Mama tip: Go early the day after the pool’s weekly cleaning (though note most are actually really clean and all are filtered and sterilised throughout the day). You can see the full cleaning schedule here.
Chai Wan Swimming Pool
345 San Ha St, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2558 3538
Closed for cleanings on Tuesdays
Set way high on a rooftop, here you’ll find two large play pools with great water games and play features. Go at dusk to take in the sunset.
Hammer Hill Road Swimming Pool
30 Lung Cheung Road, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2350 6173
Closed for cleaning on Mondays
Another great pool for families, this complex features connected indoor and outdoor pool areas and loads of kid-centric features. The big draw here? Are you ready? A pirate ship. With waterslides. And water canons. And of course there are fountains and floating animals – including a massive sea serpent (or is it a dragon?) that you can climb all over.
Jordan Valley Public Swimming Pool
Choi Ha Road, Ngau Tau Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2305 5919
Closed for cleaning on Tuesdays
This is a super pool for preschoolers, kindergarteners and little guys under 10 years old. In addition to a pool for swimming laps, here you’ll find a pool area with lots of fun stuff for the kids – water slides (including baby slides), water-squirting dolphins and sharks, floating mini aquatic animals to sit on, a water fountain to dance under, and lots more.
Tai Po Swimming Pool
11 Ting Tai Road, Tai Po, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2521 5041
Closed Mondays for cleaning
Ok, ok. This is a bit of a hike, we’ll admit. But we think three-story high twisty waterslides are worth the trek. The lines are long but what would you expect for the longest water slides in Hong Kong?
Victoria Park Swimming Pool
Victoria Park, Hing Fat St, Tin Hau, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2570 8347
Closed for cleanings on Mondays
Hong Kong Island’s biggest public swimming pool complex is the place to go if you have a kid who loves to dive, as the deep end is an impressive 5m deep (whoa). There is even a dedicated diving pool, and while you have to be in a class to use the big, big boards, anyone can huck themselves off the 1m springboard.
Bonus pool we just have to sneak in: Take a dunk in the Roman-style pool on top of the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok and enjoy the classical music – that is only audible under water. Upside is that it’s open early (6:30am), downside is that it’s a hefty $300 per person (which does include access to the facilities like the sauna).