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Best Hong Kong Beaches: Repulse Bay

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High-rise apartment buildings overlooking Repulse Bay on Hong Kong Island. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Mini Guide [Second in a Series]

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The beach at Repulse Bay is Hong Kong’s most popular beach. With the widest stretch of sand and lots of shade trees, it is one of the SAR’s most accessible beaches, and its facilities are by far the most comprehensive.

With 263 islands and 733 kilometres of coastline, Hong Kong – not surprisingly – has countless bays and numerous beaches.

The waters at all but one of Hong Kong’s beaches are calm, and breakers are rare, which makes them suitable to swimming.

About half of the beaches suitable for swimming are accessible by land. They have changing facilities and showers as well as rafts you can swim out to, sunbathe on, and dive off of. Life guards are on duty during Hong Kong’s lengthy swimming season. 

Click here for an in-depth introduction to Hong Kong beaches>>

Trivia

Repulse Bay developed into a beach resort in the second decade of the last century. A bus route linking Repulse Bay with Central was one of the first bus routes to be established in what was then a British Crown Colony.

The No. 6 bus continues to ferry sun and surf seekers to and from the bay's sandy shores to this very day.

Repulse Bay Hotel

Built in 1920, The Repulse Bay Hotel played host to countless celebrities over the year. Hollywood movie stars, European royalty, and world famous writers all stayed in the hotel's rooms and suites over the decade.

Not surprisingly, the hotel served as a hospital during World War II. By the 1970s, however, the stucco-clad hostelry l was pretty much the worse for wear. Real estate developers wanted to tear down the ageing edifice to make room for a massive residential block overlooking the South China Sea.

Hong Kong’s avaricious business tycoons are used to getting their way so when the government balked at this ambitious plans, they went ahead and tore down the hotel anyway.

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In a rare display of defiance, the government ordered that the residential development could go forward only if the developers rebuilt the hotel.

The building was only partially rebuilt and now houses food and beverage outlets as well as several retail boutiques. There are no hotel rooms.

The massive residential block to the rear of The Repulse Bay is noteworthy for the large square hole in the middle, which was included based on the advice of fung shui masters.

It is supposed to allow dragons, who reside in the surrounding hills, to make their ways to the beach.

Eucliffe Castle

A large stone castle used to occupy a cliff overlooking the Western end of Repulse Bay. It was built by Eu Tong Sween, a business tycoon, who had been told by a fortune teller that he would live forever so long as he continued to build castles.

He built three castles across Hong Kong: the one at Repulse Bay as well as one in the Mid-Levels and another in the New Territories.

Eucliffe Castle had a swimming pool, a greenhouse, and a tennis court. Sadly, the castle was torn down at roughly the same time that The Repulse Bay Hotel fell victim to the wrecker’s ball. The other two castles suffered a similar fate.

A tasteless low-rise residential structure was built in the place of Eucliffe Castle. Thankfully, it was renovated several years ago and is no longer as unsightly as it originally residential complex was.

What a shame the castle and its grounds could not have been re-purposed into a new use. What a lovely boutique hotel or recreation centre it would have made!

Nomenclature

The name of Repulse Bay has long been open to speculation. Is it because a pirate attack was once repulsed there? Is it because a naval vessel named H.S.S. Repulse was once moored there?

Or is it because some people find the place repulsive, as one friend once suggested?

The fact of the matter is, nobody knows for sure how Repulse Bay got its English name, and the Chinese name for the bay doesn’t help. Repulse Bay is known as “Shallow Water Bay“ in Chinese, which parallels the nearby Deep Water Bay, whose name means the same thing in both Chinese and English.

Food + Beverage

You won’t go hungry at Repulse Bay. 

The Pulse 

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There is something for everyone at this 167,000-square-foot shopping mall overlooking the beach at Repulse Bay. The six floor venue has 11 food and beverage outlets situated along an 800-foot-long promenade.

Menus range from Cantonese and Japanese to Australian, New American, and Balinese – plus, of course, seafood, pizza,and  ice cream. There is even a gourmet coffee outlet.

There are both al fresco and air-conditioned spaces at ground level as well as some inviting rooftop spaces.

MarketPlace is a full-service supermarket, with a take-out counter, where you can purchase prepared dishes to be consumed off site. .

The Repulse Bay

There are three food and beverage outlets at The Repulse Bay, which is located on a hillside overlooking the beach, with stunning views of the South China Sea.

Dripping with colonial era charm, each one of the outlets has a very different menu and a very different vibe.

The Verandah Restaurant serves Continental Cuisine. With its colonial ambiance, it is my idea of the best spot to enjoy Afternoon Tea in Hong Kong. It is also the only outlet at The Repulse Bay with an ocean view.

Serving South and Southeast Asian cuisine, Spices is one of my favourite spots to take out-of-town visitors. The outdoor seating is especially night during balmy weather.

Hong Kong’s answer to Starbuck’s, Pacific Coast Coffee has a comfortable outlet with both indoor and outdoor seating. It is tucked away in a courtyard at the rear of the mall. 

Club One Repulse Bay

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Club One Repulse Bay is the latest incarnation of a ageing beachfront structure that has served many purposes over the years.

Bistro One Seaside Bar has  an indoor space serving cocktails and a kiosk selling snacks and beverages. Outdoor seating is available. A  kiosk sells snacks, light dishes, and beverages.

The complex also has a spacious venue where wedding banquets can be held. The main draw: the photo opps that the view of the sea offers.

Eat Like a Local

If you want to eat like a local, you’ll have lunch or dinner at Pizza Hut, which is hugely popular in Hong Kong. Don’t be surprised if you order pizza and your server asks what type of sauce you want – tomato, thousand island, or barbecue.

 Sightseeing

The Kwun Yam Shrine is situated at the southeastern end of Repulse Bay. A Taoist shrine, it has two mosaic statues.

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Kwun Yam, known as Guanyin in Mandarin, is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Temples dedicated to the goddess are situated throughout East and Southeast Asia.

Tin Hau, known as Mazu in Mandarin, is the Celestial Empress or Princess of Heaven. The is the patron saint of fishermen and sailors.

Facilities

There are outdoor showers and indoor changing rooms with very poor ventilation. Expect to walk out every bit as wet as you were when you walked in during the humid summer months.

Other facilities include a small children’s playground and a beach volleyball court.

Some equipment – such as small tents – is available for rent. There is a 7-Eleven mini-mart, a full-service supermarket, and shops selling sporting goods.

When to Go

Life guards are on duty from 9 am to 6 pm from April through October. Hours are extended on Saturdays Sundays, and public holidays in June, July, and August to between 8 am and 7 pm.

Life guards are on duty in November and March from 8 am to 5 pm. Life guard services in December, January, and February.

If you want to go swimming in the off season, head to nearby Deep Water Bay, where life guards are on duty 8 am to 5 pm from November through March.

Swimming pontoons are removed for maintenance December through February.

What I Love

The setting is magnificent, and I love the ambiance at twilight. The collection of food and beverage outlets housed at The Pulse is a welcome addition to Repulse Bay.

What I Hate

I have nothing good to say about the architecture. The high-rise residential buildings marring the hillsides overlooking the bay are hideous, and The Pulse is clad in a rather repulsive pinkish hue.

The beach was significantly widened several years back. As a result, it has lost much of its buzz that used to make Repulse Bay such a fun place to hang out.

I especially hate the sand – it’s very coarse and rough on the feet. Sandals are a must. I also hate the fact that there are no lockers in which to stuff your stuff.

How to Get There

The quickest, easiest, and most comfortable way to get to Repulse Bay is to travel by MTR on the South Island Line, getting off at the Ocean Park MTR station, and taking a bus, mini-bus, or taxi the rest of the way to the beach.

Exit through Exit D, jaywalk across the street, and either catch a taxi or take any bus or mini bus destined for Repulse Bay or Stanley. All Stanley-bound buses make a stop at Repulse Bay.

Weather permitting, you can also walk or jog along a promenade, stopping at Deep Water Bay. It will take between 30 and 45 minutes to reach Repulse Bay.

The best way to reach Repulse Bay, however, is go by any bus traveling by way of Wong Nei Chung Gap Road.

The Number 6 bus headed for Stanley departs Exchange Square in Central and travels along Queens Road East, climbing up Stubbs Road, meandering down along Wong Nei Chung Gap Road, and winding along Repulse Bay Road.

The views are breathtakingly spectacular. Make sure to sit upstairs, preferably on the right-hand side of the bus. Best of all, sit in on either side of the front row, making sure you’ve got your camera at the ready!

This is the second in a series of mini guides to Hong Kong’s Best Beaches.

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