There are many spots in Hong Kong that can feel far removed from the city, but are in fact just round the corner or over the hill from town. Then, there are those rare spots that are genuinely far removed from civilization. The Southern waters off Lantau Island are such a locale. Within these waters lie a somewhat forgotten and neglected archipelago; the Soko Islands.
A great option for intrepid day trippers, yet still family friendly, little about a visit to the Soko Islands is routine. As there are no scheduled boats you will need to arrange your own, however if you make the effort to venture to this remote area you will be rewarded with a trip back in time! An untarnished landscape bursting with pristine beaches and historical relics lies in wait.
If not travelling on your own private boat or charter such as a junk, then (other than kayaking), the simplest way to reach the Sokos is via Cheung Chau. From Cheung Chau you can agree a fee with a local boat operator to drop off and pick up within one day. Incidentally if one wants to kayak there, kayaks can be rented from Cheung Chau too, but it is only advised for more experienced sea farers as you will cross exposed bodies of water. If in any doubt, arrange for a guide. There are 2 main islands that one would spend time ashore on here, Siu A Chau and Tai A Chau. Both have several stunning beaches to enjoy and a small pier that a smaller vessel can safely alight at.
Up till the late 1970s, the Soko Islands were home to merely a couple dozen farming families, tending to small scale agriculture and fishing in order to survive. This all changed in the following decades as Tai A Chau became home to an ever-expanding refugee camp housing people fleeing the conflict in Vietnam. Although the Vietnam War came to an end, the ensuing issue of these refugees was never properly resolved. The Soko Island camp was gradually shut down by the government approaching the 1997 handover and inmates were transferred to camps elsewhere in Hong Kong. It’s absolutely incredible to see just over 25 years on, how little of the camp remains. For the most part, concrete foundations and not much else. But a closer look reveals smaller details of what once stood at the site of the camp.
The Sokos are an incredible part of Hong Kong to explore. Any adventure here will leave you with great memories and a sound appreciation of the living standards most of us enjoy in that big city, just across the sea.
We are one of Hong Kong's premier adventure & eco tour operators. This is our blog, documenting many of the wild places we explore and show guests.