Summer might be over but that doesn’t have to mean an end to those lazy, hazy sun-filled days – especially in Hong Kong, right? Let’s face it, it’s only now that Autumn has arrived that can we really soak up the sunshine without feeling we’ve over-stayed our welcome in the sauna.
And to add to your arsenal of easy weekend family-friendly adventures, I’ve gleefully discovered a secret little spot down at Stanley that will have you feeling like you’ve been out of town on an idyllic beach getaway: St. Stephen’s beach.
Ok… so it’s probably not all that secret judging by the increasing bodies stretched out on the sand last weekend, but it feels like a tiny tropical oasis where you can splash your worries away. If you haven’t already stumbled across this magical little beach, it’s about a ten minute walk south of the Stanley markets, on the western side of the peninsula on Wong Ma Kok Road near Stanley Military Cemetery. Or, as an alternative to walking you can take number 14 bus (every 15/20 minutes) from Stanley Village (about 3 minutes journey). Get off at Stanley Military Cemetery, cross the road and walk in either direction for steps or road down to beach.
Now about these steps… there are about 300 very steep steps down to the shore that make the journey a little faster sans kids…but if you’ve got little ones and/or a stroller, we suggest you stick to the footpath and take the long way round – just an extra five minutes.
This secluded beach is perfect for children – my 20 month old tot bobbed up and down in the sea in her floaties for most of the day, accompanied by visiting Grandma and Grandpa, of course! The water is quite shallow, although take note that it can take a bit of a dip a couple of metres out. And there are lifeguards on duty around the clock to make you feel at ease, plus a first aid room. Sadly from November, they’re off duty. And since this is Hong Kong we’re talking about, water quality at our local beaches is always something to check – and the great news is that the Environmental Protection Authority has rated the water quality at Grade One.
Another big plus for parents are the nice shady trees, but umbrellas are also for hire if you want to mark out your spot on this picturesque playground. And if you fancy cooking up your own feast, there are BBQ’s just up from the beach.
The changing rooms/showers are modern, clean, roomy and easy to get the kids showered off and changed after they’ve collected what seems like a bucket load of sand down their swimming costumes! There’s also a car-park at the beach entrance if you out for a weekend drive.
Making this hideaway even more appealing is the tiny beach shack cafe called the Lanai. Tunes play out across the sandy shore… and the food is extra cheap and cheerful. Think hot dogs, burgers, chips, wraps, chicken satay, salads, ice creams, soft drinks… the works! You can even order a cocktail or two if you’re in the mood and stay and watch what may just be the best sunset in Hong Kong.
After a day of lapping up the tranquility… and if the kids are still perky, you can always head down to the markets for a spot of retail therapy before calling it a day.
And for even more great family-friendly beaches to enjoy, check out our top picks here.