I have to admit that I was nervous and a little skeptical when I purchased a Groupon Tour for my family of three but I decided that at HK$198 a person (from the original value of HK$399) it was light on the pocket and a fairly easy buy plus I was in the mood to take a gamble given that I am already an unrepentant Groupon gadget junkie.
I am pleased to say after an afternoon out on the high seas – that everything in life and Groupon – boils down to your expectations. This is definitely no Azimut grand tour with Ritz Carlton trimmings but I had a really pleasant afternoon with my family, 30 other people and our tour guide, Henry Kwok, who tried his very ernest best to translate everything from Cantonese to English. Plus all said, this turned out to be a really nice and affordable way to see the outlying islands of Hong Kong!
Our ride was not shabby at all – this fibre glass boat holds up to 40 pax and was not as choppy a ride as I had expected.
Up on deck, the wind in my hair and the sun in my face (remember to wear a huge amount of sunblock and bring a cap and sunglasses) – it was a lovely change from the polluted and hazy city air albeit in 13 degree weather at 10am in the morning. Up on the upper deck where the Hong Kong flag was furiously flapping as the boat took off on our island adventure
The Bow of the boat.
The journey takes you for a half an hour to 45 minute ride past a series of islands, loosely called the Geopark, loosely named as a cluster of about 50 square meters of islands off Sai Kung which have natural volcanic formations.
These islands have been specially selected for conservation, preservation by the Hong Kong and Chinese government.
There are certain islands which have inhabitants and rural villages and we visited two of these during the trip.
Our first island stop below – High Island
But not before we stopped the boat for an on-board buffet. I was half expecting lunch on the island or a small tug boat to come deliver the meal but to my surprise, boxes of packed food appeared on deck laid out.
Not great on the presentation but the food was decent enough and we were invited to tuck in to give us some energy for the hour-long after-lunch hike to the beach on the island which was not as gruelling as the hikes that we have been on in Hong Kong. It was actually really nice to stretch my legs and get on land after a two-hour long boat ride.
The scenery was great and it was lovely to hike in Winter weather – an activity that I have learnt to enjoy!
Some of the interesting flora and fauna along the way – this is the needle plant where the leaves of this plant have needles or thorns on either side
Exploring the beach where this rock formation is apparently of a lady’s face – do you see it? I certainly could not make it out.
Before leaving the island, we made a stop at the Uni restaurant where you can order an Uni for HK$35 a person.
An expert shells it live (yes I cringed but tried to tell myself that its the same thing done backstage in the Japanese restaurant) and shows you how to place your hand on the spikes and not get poked.
Next island stop – the Yim Tin Tsai Village on Yim Tin Tsai island. On the island there is an abandoned salt field, a Catholic church which was having a Sunday service when we visited and some local stalls selling hakka snacks including to fu fa (bean curd dessert) which is the specialty here.
Trapped in time but still charming!
A heritage exhibition of how villagers used to eat and drink on one of these tables that could seat 8 people – known as the ‘8 Immortals table’
Our order of Tofu fa and steamed hakka dumplings with red beans, sesame or peanuts
View of the ocean from the island
If you are thinking of making it back there without the Groupon offer, here’s how!
A relaxing afternoon sail back to Sai Kung’s Pier at 4pm followed by a walk through the main town to enjoy some lovely desserts and snacks – a perfect way to end Sunday.
This tour is definitely not for you if you want chi chi but for the price and the experience – this gets our vote for a really great value-for-money adventure! My first and definitely not my last Groupon tour! – See more at: http://www.simplyfabulicious.com/exploring-hong-kongs-geopark#sthash.dkDar2Xu.dpuf