Although ferries from Central will deposit you at either Yung Shue Wan or Sok Kwu Wan, I personally prefer to land at Sok Kwu Wan for a light seafood meal, hike to a beach for some R & R, and then continue onward to Yung Shue Wan for drinks or dinner before heading back to Central. The advantage of this route is that ferry service is more frequent from Yung Shue Wan, which means you're not constricted to a limited departure schedule. If you choose to hike the trail in reverse from my description below, you'll have to time your arrival and departure with precision because ferries from Sok Kwu Wan are less frequent (or, if you dine at Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, described below, you can take advantage of the restaurant's free shuttle boat to Central and Tsim Sha Tsui by making advance reservations). The hike between the two villages along a marked, concrete footpath takes about 1 1/2 hours and is a true delight, with great views of the surrounding sea and, in the distance, even Ocean Park and Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island.
Tiny Sok Kwu Wan is famous for its open-air seafood restaurants and is a popular destination for those lucky enough to own pleasure boats. The restaurants are aligned along the small waterfront, extended over the water on stilts and shaded by canopies; they offer views of the harbor (and, unfortunately, of denuded hills belonging to a defunct cement factory across the harbor; there is talk of eventual landscaping, but only time will tell). All restaurants here have tanks filled with fresh seafood, available by the catty (one catty is about 1 1/2 lb.), with prices that vary daily depending on supply and demand. One catty of prawns costs approximately HK$160 to HK$200, with half a catty usually enough for two people. A catty of lobster will cost about HK$350 to HK$450, though small lobsters for one person are also listed on English menus for around HK$140, along with a variety of other seafood, poultry, and vegetable dishes.
Incidentally, as you dine, you'll notice Hong Kong's largest fleet of fish-breeding rafts in the harbor, some also supporting family homes. Also in the harbor is Lamma Fisherfolk's Village (tel. 852/2982 8585; www.fisherfolks.com.hk), which you can visit if you're looking for something to do or simply want to support a worthwhile local endeavor. Reached by shuttle from Sok Kwu Wan's public pier (the same pier where the ferry docks), the floating "village" consists of moorings, fish-breeding rafts, and displays relating to local fisher-folk culture, including fishing tools, implements used to craft traditional junks, model boats, clothing, and more. Most interesting is the authentic 60-year-old junk, which you can explore at leisure, peeking into the boat's tiny sleeping quarters, the kitchen with its wood-burning stove, and even the "outhouse" toilet. It's open daily from 10am to 6pm; admission, including the shuttle boat, is HK$60 for adults and HK$50 for children and seniors.
Turning right from the public pier and walking past the many seafood restaurants, you will soon come to a newly renovated Tin Hau temple on the edge of town, first founded more than 150 years ago. Tin Hau temples are common near the sea, since the goddess Tin Hau is believed to protect fishermen. Continue on the concrete path that hugs the harbor about 10 minutes to Lo So Shing School, where, if you want to swim, you should turn left. Soon you'll see the turnoff for Lo So Shing Beach, which you can reach in about 5 minutes (there are also public latrines along this path). Prettily situated in a small bay, this is the island's nicest and least crowded beach, offering changing rooms and lifeguards on duty April through October daily from 9am to 6pm.
Otherwise, continuing on the main pathway takes you through lush and verdant valleys and banana groves, with butterflies flitting across the path and roosters crowing from the distance, before ascending to a hillside pavilion overlooking the scandalous former cement factory. From this point, the path climbs higher onto barren and windswept hills. About halfway along the trail, on the top of a peak, is a pagoda where you can take a rest and enjoy the view of the South China Sea. After that, the barren hills give way to valleys and trees and then Hung Shing Yeh Beach, which also has changing facilities, showers, toilets, and lifeguards on duty in the summer. If it's hot, it may be hard to resist joining the throngs of families and taking another dip in the water. Regrettably, however, the beach is overshadowed by an unsightly power station.
The hiking path resumes on the other side of the beach. In less than 20 minutes, you'll reach Lamma's main town, Yung Shue Wan, which translates as "Banyan Tree Bay," but it takes awhile to walk past new development before reaching Yung Shue Wan Main Street and the center of town. It used to be small and undeveloped, with old houses and little garden plots, but new apartment buildings and shops have sprung up on its hillsides in the past couple decades, and the town is unfortunately blighted by that unsightly power station. What's more, small motorized wagons carrying building supplies zip around as if they can't get to construction sites soon enough. Compared to how the village looked in the early 1980s, I can barely recognize the place. Still, the village has a laid-back, tropical-island atmosphere, with a sizable population of expatriates drawn by low rents and the slow pace of life. With Yung Shue Wan's narrow streets, funky eateries, and shops selling Southeast Asian crafts, jewelry, and clothing, Hong Kong's bustling city life seems more than a short boat ride away.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.