If you visit Hong Kong and manage to avoid going on a boat. How? Why?
Hong Kong is surrounded by water and with so many different boat rides to experience, there has to be one for you. It’s not quite the top 10 best boat rides in Hong Kong, but 9 we think you might like, including our top 3.
All prices are in HKD ($).
The first time you see this ship in Victoria Harbour, you will shout “Look, a pirate ship”. A black ship with red sails gives it that pirate look, not something you would want to see following you in the open sea. It wouldn’t look out of place being captained by Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean.
There are two different Aqua Luna tours, one is hop on, hop off around Victoria Harbour. The other one is trip from Victoria Harbour to Stanley Beach, on the south of Hong Kong Island. We’re going to talk about the trip to Stanley.
You can board the boat at either Central Pier or Tsim Sha Tsui Pier. We chose Central because that is the first stop. You will get first choice of where to sit and be able to spend longer on board.
As you board, the crew will ask for your ticket and then point you towards the bar where you can collect your free drink. It was the morning and too early for Rum, so we both went for a beer. Some might say that we’re not real pirates.
Then we headed straight for the deck, found two nice loungers, and dropped off our bags and drinks. If you want to look at Hong Hong island, sit on the left like us. But it doesn’t matter too much as you can always walk around if there is something interesting on the other side.
Make sure you take some time to admire the boat. It is beautifully crafted. And find a good spot to shout “Kraken” later on!
As the starts going around Hong Kong Island, it passes Sheung Wan where you will see big red or blue ferries taking passengers to Macau.
Shortly after that you will see another pier, and if you look closely you will see lots of people taking photos. That’s known as “Instagram Pier”.
It’s surprising how far around the island the tall buildings go, but suddenly the buildings will disappear and you will just be staring at nature. On right, you’ll pass by Lamma Island, as well as a number of smaller islands.
On Hong Kong Island, you can see some of the rides at Ocean Park hanging over the edge and hear the people screaming. There are a few very quiet beaches, as well as Repulse Bay.
If you go in December, it might be a little windy and cold at points, but once you reach Stanley there is a Christmas Market.
The trip to Stanley is on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday. One way cost $280 for an adult and $190 for a child, with a return ticket being a bit more. More information and tickets are available here.
Aberdeen has two typhoon shelters, which protect boats during typhoons. Although, because of the scarcity of land, lots of the boats are anchored in the middle of the sea.
To board a larger boat, the crew need to take a sampan; a small boat commonly used for ferrying passengers to larger boats. You can also ride in a sampan and tour Aberdeen Typhoon shelters.
We took the MTR to Wong Chuk Hang and then walked to Aberdeen pier. As you walk along the path, you will pass boat yard after boat yard. The boats are decades old and the yards even older.
On the weekend there are not many people working. It’s a strange feeling walking along the path, as part of it cuts through boat yards and you are walking on planks of wood. But we continued, and then we made it through the boat yards.
We could see a fence up ahead. Dead end? We hoped not. Thankfully, it was not a dead end, but a fence to stop peasants like us going into the Aberdeen Yacht Club, with brand new yachts that must cost millions. It was suddenly a very real reminder of the rich-poor divide that exist in Hong Kong.
You can take some photos through the fence and then follow the path in land and around the yacht club. The other side of it, you’ll find the pier.
We arrived and promptly hopped on the sampan. There was only us two, but the tour still went ahead.
You spend about 30 minutes as the boat gently navigates the harbour, giving you numerous views of Aberdeen and the boats. The sampan can either drop you off back at Aberdeen, or on the other side of the harbour at Ap Lei Chau.
We asked to be dropped off on Ap Lei Chau and wandered aimlessly around until the evening. Then we took a free ferry to the Jumbo Floating restaurant. There are actually 3 restaurants on different decks and another restaurant floating next to it.
We knew it would be pricy, but thought we should try some of the food. We looked at the menu of the first restaurant, the price was eye watering. Maybe it’s cheaper upstairs. We went up to the next deck and then the top deck. The price just increased.
We left with empty stomachs and took another free ferry back to Aberdeen. You can take a great photo of the floating restaurant as you leave.
You can find the pier for the Sampan tour right here, next to the free boat that takes you to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. It cost around $50 – $80.
Yes, we know, not a very original choice. Every article or list of things to do in Hong Kong will contain the Star Ferry. But there is a reason for that.
The Star Ferry is a symbol of Hong Kong!
It’s been around since 1888, but don’t worry, the ferries are not that old. There have been several upgrades and new fleets since then, with each of them maintaining that iconic green and white pattern.
There are 2 decks open for all people, the top is slightly more pricey because it is first class. However, there is not much difference with second class, only that you are higher up and one part of it is air conditioned.
The star ferry has 2 routes, Tsim Sha Tsui – Central and Tsim Sha Tsui -Wanchai. Use both, it’s only $2-$3.
As a suggestion, ride the lower deck to Central and the upper deck to Wanchai. The Wanchai route only opens the top deck.
We have both been on the Star Ferry more than 100 times and still haven’t got bored. There is a group of 2 seats that face left or right, not forward or backward. Those are our seats!
The Best of The Rest
Get a group of 20 or more of you, hire a boat with a captain, buy a load of food and drink for the day and then set sail. Have a good time, jump in the sea, try not to get sun burnt.
If you can’t find 19 other people, there are often hosted junk parties in the summer that you can join for around $500 -$1000 per person.
Be sure to head to Sai Kung and go squid fishing in the summer. We spent 2 hours fishing for squid and caught 4 between us, but one managed to escape.
Luckily, the crew were able to catch a lot more because they are not very big. The body is about the size of a thumb. At the end of the night, the boat chef cooks up all the squids and we were able to enjoy so many freshly cooked squids.
Outer Lying Island Ferries
If you are going one of the many outer lying islands, Cheung Chau and Lamma Island being the most popular, then you’ll need to take a ferry. From Central Pier, you can take a fast ferry or a slow ferry.
The ferry ride to an island is more than just a form of public transport, it is an experience in it’s own right. We recommend that you take the slow ferry because you’re allowed to stand out doors and enjoy the wind. You can watch the waves and take some great photos. In addition to that, it’s also cheaper!
The Last River-Crossing Ferry
In Yuen Long, there is a river that has no bridge, but there is a boat that will help you across. It is now the last river-crossing ferry in Hong Kong, but it only takes a minute, so not worth travelling just for that.
If you are interesting in more than just the ferry ride, then you should definitely visit. The ferry takes you to Nam Sang Wai, which is a beautiful part of nature that can be enjoyed with an afternoon or day in Yuen Long.
Take a water taxi. Hold on tight!
Tai O is a small fishing village on the edge of Lantau Island. As you walk into the village from the bus stop, there are two companies offering regular “Pink Dolphin Sightseeing Tours” for $20. If you ignore the “Pink Dolphin” bit, then you won’t be disappointed.
The tour takes you on a nice ride through the village where you can see the houses built on stilts and then you head out into the ocean to spot pink dolphins. Sightings are not guaranteed, nor should they be expected.
Since constructions started on the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao bridge, the pink dolphin population has plummeted and sightings are extremely rare.
If either of us had ever seen a dolphin then it would definitely be in the top 3, but neither of us have, after multiple tours, and we don’t know anyone else that has seen a pink dolphin within the last 5 years, except the tour operators…