As the muggy weather unpacks its summer suitcase and makes itself at home in the city, chilling out and cooling down will be on the mind of every overheated Hong Konger. With International Day of Families falling on Wednesday (May 15th), the Buddha’s Birthday public holiday on Friday (May 17th) and World Ocean’s Day on June 8th, there’s no better time to hit the high seas and enjoy some wet and wild fun with your nearest and dearest. From fun-packed boat hire to kayaking, snorkelling, windsurfing and sailing, Localiiz has everything your family needs to splash its way through summer in the city.
Paddle into Paradise
If you haven’t yet ventured as far as the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region, you’re missing out on about 140 million years of natural history. Part of the Hong Kong National Geopark, this wind-swept rock gallery showcases the imposing faults, folds and columns caused by years of scorching heat, fierce typhoons and the relentless waves of the South China Sea.
Kayak and Hike offers the perfect packages for adventurous and energetic families wanting to explore this often forgotten corner of Hong Kong. With tour groups of between 16 and 20 people, these outdoor enthusiasts always try to team families together, allowing the kids to make friends and the parents to take a break from entertaining.
Meeting bright and early at Sai Kung Waterfront, groups are first loaded onto a junk boat for the 45-minute trip to a quaint and quiet fishing village nestled within a collapsed volcano in the Ung Kong Wan Geopark. Here, adventurers will pair up and get paddling in double kayaks, stopping at beaches, islands and coral patches for snorkelling and basking along the way.
The ‘hike’ part of the package comes with a trek along the ridge line, which boasts stunning views of the spectacular scenery and rock formations below. It’s then back to the kayaks for a leisurely float through a stunning sea arch tunnel before a boat trip back to the village for a hearty late lunch.
Due to the remoteness of the Goepark and the robust nature of the tours, these packages are not recommended to families with children younger than 10. However, Kayak and Hike also offers slightly less strenuous mid-week family outings that explore the coastline and islands around Clearwater Bay, allowing for relaxed activities such as swimming, snorkelling and stand-up paddle boarding.
Kayak and Hike founder Paul Etherington set up the company in 1998 in a bid to help tourists discover the hidden natural beauty of Hong Kong. Speaking to Localiiz, he explained, “I came to Hong Kong in 77 with my parents as my father got a job as an engineer for the MTR. I loved how much outdoor stuff there was here but thought that it was only really the locals who knew about it.
“Everyone goes on junk trips and drinks a lot, but we offer something that’s very activity orientated and much better suited to families. You’ll probably be the only kid at school to have paddled through 140 million years of geology and a collapsed volcano! This is a journey that includes the whole family, fun and learning about the area.”
For more information or to book a tour, call: 9300 5197 or email Kayak ad Hike via their Localiiz profile page
Yachting for Young’uns
Having lived on a boat for almost two years with their four young children, Kylie Waterstrom and Stuart Walker are well versed on the ins and outs of family fun on the ocean. While their brand-new boat hire business Elite Charters specialises in corporate getaways and luxury retreats, the signature 86-foot classic Raymond Hunt design cruiser – originally built for none other than Hong Kong yachting legend Frank Pong – has been souped-up and kitted out with an all-round family focus after spending the last two years undergoing an extreme facelift in the ship yard.
This floating hotel sleeps 10 and provides the perfect option for busy Hong Kong families looking for an intimate ‘staycation’. As well as a boat-load of water toys and a skipper who is fully trained in Scuba diving, snorkelling and wind surfing, the magnificent Mahala Lin also boasts movies, board games an X Box and Karaoke for when the weather gets too hot or too wet. There’s even a Naughty Corner for over-excited seapups!
The full kitchen is staffed by professional chef who will happily give the kids cooking lessons, while the friendly captain can always use a hand checking the weather and plotting the route around the Outlying Islands and the Marine Reserves.
Kylie, who moved to Hong Kong from Australia 15 years ago after landing a job in the city’s construction sector, explained why she and Stuart recently decided on such a dramatic change of course. “I grew up on the water in Australia, fishing and boating every weekend,” she said. “I was able to drive a boat from the age of about six as I would go out with my dad and his friends and they’d drink so much beer I’d end up taking the wheel on the way home.
“I think boating is great for kids of all ages as it gives them respect for Mother Nature and teaches them about safety and how to look after themselves and others. I just wish every kid could experience it.”
To book a daytrip or longer retreat with Elite Charters, call 5434 9955 or email via their Localiiz profile page
Tours for All
Whether your family will get a buzz from Urban sight-seeing, serious sailing, movies under the stars or good old fashioned inflatables, Hong Kong Yachting has a whole fleet of boats and packages to suit all sorts of seadog. If your kids boast an inclination towards education, take them on an excursion to a lesser-seen side of Hong Kong with a tour of the city’s bustling container port, the third-busiest in the world. Hear about the history of the region’s shipping industry as you zig-zag through the Rambler Chanel and dodge the world’s biggest boats. After feeling significantly insignificant next the towering cranes and containers, you will continue on to the magnificent Lantau Bridges and Park Island, where kids will get the chance to visit Noah’s Ark, the world’s only full scale Ark replica.
Speed freaks can alternatively enjoy the thrill of a lifetime with an adventure sailing experience on board one of the world’s fastest yachts. The 64ft V1 Volvo 60 Class Racing Yacht, which won the Round the World race in 1998 under legendary skipper Paul Cayard, is now enjoying her retirement in Hong Kong. This “Formula One of sailing boats” can accommodate up to 25 people, but is ideal for smaller family groups looking for an intimate and active experience. She comes fully staffed, but passengers are encouraged to take the ropes and get all hands on deck whenever possible.
For a fun evening activity for all the family, snuggle up under the stars with some pop-corn and enjoy some of the best movies of all time on board the Jungle Jane, a 70ft former cray fishing trawler from Perth. A huge inflatable projection screen will be erected on the spacious viewing platform while families relax on beanbags and gobble down a selection of drinks and snacks. You can also soak up the breathtakingly Victoria Harbour Light Show to add some extra colour to your evening.
If you’re looking for fun in the sun however, Hong Kong Yachting also organises family-friendly junk trips with more of a focus on inflatables than the usual theme of intoxication. The boats carry floaty noodles and large loungers, and will soon also be packed to the rafters with summer zorb balls, climbing towers and play gyms, perfect for kids’ birthday parties.
Corey Montie from Hong Kong Yachting said, “The first thing that comes to mind with junks is boozing and cursing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It really depends on the people and activities you have on board, and we want Hong Kongers to realise that, given a little preparation, junking can be a family friendly activity”