When I moved to Hong Kong a few years ago, my family settled in Mid Levels. This was a terrific introduction to the hustle and bustle that is HK – there really is nothing that compares to waking up and seeing that amazing skyline! Still, there were some days that I would long for a bit of grass to walk on and a tad more sky in my skyline (not to mention less pollution), and it was at just these times that the family would pile into a taxi with our bags and take a trip away.
These journeys hardly ever involved a plane, however. Now don’t get me wrong, I agree that one of the amazing advantages to living in Hong Kong is our close proximity to so many family-friendly resorts – Phuket, anyone? Still, sometimes all it takes to get away is to head Southside. Just a 25 minute cab ride from Central is an entirely different world where the air is cleaner, there are plenty of beaches (and some grass, gasp!) to run around on, and not a skyscraper in sight.
You can make a whole day out of your excursion: Starting in the early morning (8am – you know your kids are up and ready to go long before that!), hop in a taxi and head over to South Bay Beach. The spot is perfect, as it rarely gets busy (no mini buses and tour buses are allowed down its road), and the South Bay Beach Club cafe there serves up delicious breakfasts. From pancakes and bacon for the little ones to Bloody Marys for adults (in case you had a particularly taxing evening the night before and the glare off the waves is proving a bit much), there is something sure to satisfy the whole family. After a leisurely breakfast, you can laze around on the beach in the morning before it gets too hot, while the kids play in the sand.
When you’re all sunned out and it’s time for lunch, a great Southside option is Spices Restaurant at Repulse Bay. It is a lovely, airy space, with big, comfortable chairs and an outdoor garden seating area. The menu is “popular for its diversified and authentic Asian cuisine,” while the kids’ menu offers something for even the pickiest of eaters. Be sure to try their homemade coconut ice cream before you go – it’s fantastic! After lunch, take a stroll around the Repulse Bay Arcade which is full of shops offering children’s wares: Offspring, SEED, and Dymocks just to mention a few.
If you fancy some more shopping after you’ve checked these stores out, then head over to Stanley in the afternoon and hit the markets. One of the most popular places to buy inexpensive children’s clothes (yes, they do exist in Hong Kong), you will find stall after stall of cute options for your bubs. Just be sure to bargain! It is possible to spend a few hours trawling the stalls for all manner of items from hiking backpacks to artwork; Stanley Market is also a great place to find gifts for friends and family back home.
At this point your brood might be on its last legs, so as the sun starts to go down head over to Stanley Main Street, where along the water there is a whole line of restaurants to choose from. The kids will surely be happy with the forever popular Pizza Express and Wildfire, or if you fancy something that’s not the usual, then head to Rocksalt or Lucy’s (this one is in the market). The latter is especially favored among families living Southside, so a tip is to make a reservation the day before, or stop in right when you arrive at the markets before you start to shop and make a reservation for later in the evening so you don’t find yourself caught out!
Of course, this example of a day is just one of the many Southside excursions you can take. There are lots of great hikes to do as a family, many other beaches (Deep Water Bay, Shek O, etc.) to discover, plenty of water sports to try (wake boarding, sailing, etc.), and let’s not forget Ocean Park! So head Southside when you need a break, a breath, a beach, and a bite. It’s a great family adventure!
Lucy’s, G/F, 64 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, 2813 9055
Rocksalt, 25 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, 2899 0818
Spices, G/F, 109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, 2292 2821
South Bay Beach Club, End of South Bay Road, South Bay