Header image courtesy of @mandyarale (via Instagram)
If its Chinese name—which literally means "Rocky Bay” (石澳)—is any indication, Shek O is a haven for those looking for a taste of Hong Kong’s great outdoors. Occupying the southeastern corner of Hong Kong Island, this charming peninsula established itself as a fishing community some two hundred years ago and, to this day, continues to ooze with quaint village charm, attracting tourists and locals alike for an exciting weekend getaway. From exhilarating hikes and scenic overlooks to barbecues spots and seafood fare, we’ve compiled the best gems in this beachside neighbourhood!
Shek O Village is the closest you will get to a European beach town getaway without having to hop on a plane. Sitting in the heart of this neighbourhood is a maze-like sprawl of low-rise, rainbow buildings reminiscent of what you’d find in Cinque Terre. Painted in vibrant hues of pastel purple, sunny yellow, mint green, and coral, this close-knit community is brimming with photo opportunities at every corner. Apart from quaint dwellings, a handful of well-preserved historic structures also take up residence on these narrow streets, including the memorial archway near the main entrance road, the Shek O bus terminal building, and the Tin Hau Temple, which is listed as a Grade III historical building.
Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails! Shek O is home to one of Hong Kong’s most spectacular and widely recognized hiking paths—Dragon’s Back, which earned its stately name from its iconic undulating ridges running along the hilly peaks of the Shek O Peninsula. Starting from Shek O Road, the eight-kilometre trail is relatively straightforward, made up of mostly dirt roads and punctuated with a few short bursts of steep ascents, but the panoramic overlooks it affords are second to none. And the best part is that you can revel in extraordinary views not just on one hill summit, but throughout the long stretch of the rolling ridge, with Tai Tam Harbour on one side and Shek O town on the other. Click here to read our full guide on how to hike Dragon’s Back.
What’s “Rocky Bay” without the rocks? While one can expect to find plenty of stones and boulders scattered throughout Shek O, Cape D’Aguilar boasts some of the area’s most remarkable geological wonders. Trek to the southernmost tip of the peninsula near the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve and you will be met with a series of dramatic sea caves, coastal cliffs, and unique outcrops strewn across the shoreline. Take your time exploring all the area’s rich geology (we emphasise this as the rocks can be sharp and slippery) and don’t forget to take a photo with the Instagram-famous crab cave, a stunning crab-shaped sea arch located on the edge of the rugged coastline. Apart from unique rock formations, the historic military ruins and Hok Tsui Beacon are also worth checking out! Click here to read our full guide on Cape D’Aguilar.
Get your fix of sun, sea, and sand at this coastal paradise! Boasting white sandy shores lapped by exceptionally clear waters—and lush hillside scenery to boot!—it’s no wonder that Shek O Beach is a requisite visit for every beach bum. From sunbathing and swimming to barbecue and picnicking, there are more than enough recreational activities to keep you entertained for hours. The gentle waves here make for great family-friendly swimming, but if you’re out to ride some waves, head a little down south to Big Wave Bay. Given its self-explanatory name, it shouldn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to guess why the beach is popular among surfers.
Want to try your hand at outdoor bouldering? Located just off of Shek O headland, Tai Tau Chau is much loved by rock climbers and adventure seekers for its wealth of spectacular crags and bulging walls. The rocks mainly consist of solid rough granite and provide good friction for a strong grip as you scale up the magnificent outcrops. The small uninhabited island used to be connected to the Shek O headland by the Lovers Bridge, but unfortunately, the former pastel blue footbridge was destroyed in 2018 by the Typhoon Mangkhut and has not yet been resurrected. Nowadays, you can still access the island relatively easily by the tombolo when the tide is low.
From the seaside views to the lofty white décor, Cococabana evokes beach holiday vibes through and through. And matching the luxurious atmosphere is an expertly crafted menu of Mediterranean fare, including seafood dishes, pasta, grilled meats, fresh salads, and more. Opt for the mussels steamed in pastis with rosemary cream ($298) and the grilled French seabass ($418), as well as the French oysters with shallot vinegar ($295). Not good with decisions? Go for the sharing menu ($410 per person) and taste an enticing array of Mediterranean flavours. For the ultimate dining experience, nab a seat on the semi-outdoor terrace and pair your meal with a glass of wine or champagne!
Cococabana, G/F, Shek O Beach Building, Shek O Beach, Shek O | (+852) 2812 2226
Sai Jai Thai Store is your answer to fun and easy-to-eat picnic nibbles. With a small, run-down space and a simple menu of street food BBQ skewers, this takeout-only tuck shop may not look like much, but what it lacks in grandeur it makes up for in explosive flavour and amiable prices. From cheese sausage ($12) and siu mai ($12) to pork neck ($25) and chicken leg ($25), all the items on the menu are freshly grilled and cost $25 or less! You can also choose from several delicious Thai-style sauces to douse your skewers in. Opt for the coconut & peanut butter sauce for a salty-sweet combination, or the spicy & sour Thai sauce if you’re partial to a bit of heat!
Sai Jai Thai Store, G/F, 784B Shek O Village Road, Shek O
Decked out with quirky chalkboard menus, wooden picnic tables, and a bold sunset colour palette, this lovely eatery is just a two-minute walk away from Shek O Beach. Sporting a laid-back, surfer-chic setting, it’s the perfect spot to chill out and chow down on some tasty grub after a day in the sun. Serving up a fine selection of English all-day breakfasts as well as your classic Western comfort foods like pizzas, burgers, and pasta, the folks at Ming’s Café make sure customers leave feeling happy, satisfied, and ready for a nap! One dish that never disappoints is the bacon cheeseburger, which features a beef burger, crispy bacon, melty cheese, tomato, and lettuce, sandwiched between perfectly toasted buns. Wash it all down with a refreshing pineapple smoothie ($40) for a well-rounded meal!
Ming’s Café, 401 Shek O Village, Shek O
Think Kowloon City is the only place in Hong Kong where you can find great Thai cuisine? Think again! Just a stone’s throw away from Ming’s Café is this spacious corner restaurant offering a wide range of authentic Thai dishes. Tuck into hearty entrées ranging from curries ($78), pad thai ($78), and seafood noodles with tom yum soup ($78) to scrumptious desserts like mango sticky rice with coconut milk ($58) and Thai pumpkin custard ($48), and even speciality drinks like Thai milk tea ($32) and fresh young coconut ($38). The portions are generous and the flavours are spot-on, so come hungry and prepare for an indulgent feast!
Shek O Thai, 303 Shek O Village Road, Shek O | (+852) 2809 4426