Cheung Chau is an island 10 kilometres southwest of Hong Kong Island. It is nicknamed the ‘dumbbell island’ due to its shape. Getting to the island is easy enough via ferry (pier no 5 at Central) either via fast ferry which takes approximately 40 minutes or the slow ferry which takes an hour.
The view from the arriving ferry pier across the promenade shows a harbour full of activity with fishing vessels, trawlers, junks and sampans. The waterfront is lined with cafes, predominately seafood restaurants and a number of souvenir shops.
There are also a number of bikes lined up on the foreshore, this is the most common mode of transportation other than walking on the island, as motorised vehicles are not allowed – the only exception being garbage ‘trucks’.
A favourite well-known local desert is the mochi – a traditional desert originating from Japan. Essentially it’s a rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice, filled with fresh fruit. The picture below is a mango mochi.
Yuk Hui Temple or commonly known as Pak Tai Temple, is said to have been built about 200 years ago to honour Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the sea. It is also home to the famous Cheung Chau Bun Festival which takes place in May.
Cheung Chau is a popular spot for hikers and the walk around the island up to the North Lookout Pavilion is spectacular. The views across the ocean show other islands and a busy ferry route. There are no drinking stations, nor small shops along the way, so it’s important to make sure you are well prepared with supplies.
Tung Wan Beach is the most popular spot for a swim, it’s netted and a lifeguard can be seen on duty.
It’s best to enjoy Cheung Chau in the morning because by lunch time the streets are packed! One especially busy area is not far from the ferry pier – a town square on the Cheung Chau Family Walk. There you will find a long line of people, under the shade of a massive tree, waiting to be served at the Gan Yongtai fishball shop. These fishballs are eaten from a stick, while leaning forward and taking care to not drip sauce on your shoes – truly a recommended Hong Kong experience. People watching here is almost an art form and you will find many different characters.
Not far from the square is the Lock of Love on Tung Wan Rd. It is a wooden house with an iron fence which allows lovers to hang locks with wishes written on them.
Cheung Chau is a lovely island well worth the day trip, just keep an eye on the weather forecast as ferries can be cancelled from time to time in inclement weather.