1. LAMMA ISLAND
A 30-minute ferry ride from Central, this car-free oasis offers hikers a rewarding montage of beaches, history and gourmet seafood. Start with a poke around the stores in the laid back township of Yung Shue Wan before following a meandering seven-kilometre trail that offers sweeping coastal views as it passes the white sand Hung Shing Yeh Beach and the city's first commercial-grade wind turbine. Finish up with a tour of the fish farm at Sok Kwu Wan before tucking into a seafood feast at one of the bay's many excellent waterfront restaurants.
2. DRAGON'S BACK
Hailed by Time Magazine as Asia's best urban hike, Dragon's Back snakes through shaded woodland and bamboo groves before ascending to the 284-metre-high Shek O Peak. From here the undulating ridge line (or Dragon's Back) delivers glorious coastal views and the chance to see paragliders and kite fliers. Finish with a dip in the sea at the beautiful bay of Tai Long Wan, which is also a popular surf hangout. Officially known as Section 8 of the 50-kilometre Hong Kong Trail, access is via the MTR to Shau Kei Wan, then bus 9 to To Tei Wan on Shek O Road.
3. SUNSET PEAK
Lantau Island is Hong Kong's largest island, a verdant 147-square-kilometre paradise west of the city and home to the 70-kilometre Lantau Trail. Divided into 12 stages, the most rewarding for day-trippers is the trek from Pak Kung Au up to Hong Kong's third tallest summit, the 869-metreSunset Peak. It's a thigh-punishing ascent but the views from the top at any time of day (but particularly sunset) are stunning. From here it's all downhill to the small town of Mui Woi for a swim and a ferry back to Central.
4. PO TOI ISLAND
A beautiful beach in Po Toi island, Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock
Often referred to as the South Pole of Hong Kong, the city's southernmost island is best-known for its distinctive granite rock formations. Getting there is half the fun since it involves a scenic journey on a kaito (private ferry) from Aberdeen or Stanley. A circular four-kilometre walking trail delivers sweeping sea views from the elevated Ngau Wu Teng Pavilion, rock formations that (with some imagination) look like a monk and a tortoise, and 3000-year-old rock carvings etched into a cliff. Before leaving, ensure you sample a bowl of the island's acclaimed seaweed soup.
5. MACLEHOSE TRAIL
The MacLehose Trail. Photo: Shutterstock
Named after Hong Kong's longest serving governor, Sir Murray MacLehose, this 100-kilometre trail meanders through eight country parks in the New Territories. The 13-kilometre section from Long Ke to Pak Tam Au (stage 2) is considered the most scenic as it skirts the pristine beaches of Sai Wan and Ham Tin. Additional highlights include splendid views from the 314-metre Sai Wan Shan and the 200-year-old fishing village of Chek Keng. Access is a slightly involved combination of MTR to Diamond Hill, bus 92 to Sai Kung Town and then a taxi or village minibus to Sai Wan Pavilion, but it's worth it.
6. THE PEAK
Mountain Victoria peak pathway. Photo: Shutterstock
First time to Hong Kong? Then riding the historic Peak Tram funicular railway between Central and the city's most famous viewpoint on Victoria Peak is pretty much compulsory. However, you'll feel far better about that second serving of dim sum if you hike up. There are several routes but the most rewarding is the three-kilometre Morning Trail, which starts at Hatton Road near Hong Kong University and coils up through the sub-tropical forest of Lung Fu Shan Country Park. Highlights en route include the historic Pinewood Battery and sweeping views of Lamma Island. And the best bit? You can still take the tram down.
Rob McFarland was a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. See discoverhongkong.com/au