Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrRenowned for decades as an artist and hippie-loving destination, Lama Island is a delightful day-trip destination in Hong Kong and an enchanting retreat for anyone who wants to enjoy a gracious dose of nature. Blissfully car-free (bar a few mini-sized service vehicles) this picturesque isle offers stunning walks for those who want to stretch their legs, shopping for arty folks, archaeological sites for history buffs, and plenty of delectable feasting for all. Heavy doses of R&R is what’s on offer here, so if you’re looking for a long list of exciting things to see and do, you’ll be missing the point of this place entirely.
History & NatureLamma is the third-largest island in Hong Kong and covers an area of 5 square miles. It’s believed to be one of the earlier settled spots in the entire region and recent archaeological finds have dated back inhabitants to the 4th millennium BC. This isle is, in fact, the most archaeologically important site in the entire South China Sea .
The island was also used a strategic point during World War II as it was here that Japanese kamikaze soldiers would retreat to in order to plan their suicide mission. Along the walking path you’ll come across the aptly named Kamikaze Caves, which soldiers used to hide their one-way-only speed boats. Legend has it that the invading Japanese forced local Lamma residents to carve out the caves and then shot them to retain their secrecy. Nowadays they look like unassuming, dark and damp places to crouch into, yet if you’re a history buff you may enjoy visiting them nonetheless.
Developed primarily as a fishing village after the war, Lamma still retains its small-village charm, with low-rise buildings, authentic housing, and a slow pace adding to the enchanting atmosphere. Home to only 8,000 people, the majority of the island is inaccessible due to the rugged terrain, which in fact makes it an ideal natural escape. The power plant is an eye-sore, we admit, yet considering you’re coming from Hong Kong Island you may perhaps not even notice it. Keep your eyes firmly planted on the mountainside view and you can bask in the all-too-natural environment.
Lamma is also home to the only permanent breeding retreat for Green Sea Turtles in Hong Kong and one of the last remaining in the China Sea. Fiercely protected, the site has been designated as a prominent natural hub for more than two decades. It is, for this reason, that access to selected beaches may be restricted during breeding season. The lowlands are also brimming with mudskippers and crabs, although you'll mostly see them at low tide when waters recede. At this time, you may notice white-billed eagles soaring above the area looking for a feats of their own.
In Sok Kwu Wan you'll find a 150-year old temple which was rebuilt with funds from local villagers recently, after being devastated by fire in 2004. This is a very important place of worship for sea-faring locals and is now open to the public.
The Ins and Outs of a Visit to LammaFishing, hence seafood-feasting, is arguably the main attraction here, although the two main villages are now also home to quite a few expats so western restaurants are also on the rise. Fishing farms of prawns, lobsters and shell-fish can be spotted on Picnic Bay in Sok Kwu Wan and a myriad of relaxing waterside cafés and restaurants in both villages do a great job in luring visitors, who all seem to step off the ferry and immediately slow down their strolling pace.
The air here is fresh and clean (especially since the plastic factory closed down) and the walk between the two main towns is low-key and not strenuous at all. It takes most people between 60 to 90 minutes to cover the distance at a relaxed pace. Take water with you, however, as although the villages brim with eateries and cafés, none are set up in between them...just yet.
The island is set to receive a makeover of sorts, and plans are underway for a beach resort and, no doubt, a lot more construction. The atmosphere and serenity of Lamma is set to change in the coming years, so this is one of those places you should visit sooner, rather than later. Extensive investments from foreigners are also bound to change the uniqueness of the island in no time.
There are excellent bathing spots on Lamma, so pack your swimmers and sunscreen if you want to indulge. Visit Lamma and you’ll also have the enviable chance of picking up some brilliant locally made produce, like home-made pickled chillies, preserves and desserts, not to mention bags and jewellery.
How to Get ThereUse your Octopus Card and hop on the ferry at Central’s Pier 4.
Ferries ply the route from Hong Kong’s Central pier to the two main hubs on Lama, namely Yong Su Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. The ride takes merely 20 minutes, and although it matters not in which direction you decide to walk, do note that the ferries at Yong Su Wan run twice an hour, whilst at Sok Kwu Wan only once; so heading to the latter and walking to the former makes more sense.
- Kamikaze Caves
- Hong Kong Island
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jan 23, 2015