The Repulse Bay is one of Hong Kong’s most popular and accessible beaches. It was named after the HMS Repulse, a Royal Navy Battleship which used to anchor on the bay while on patrol against pirates. The chinese name for the bay, Chin Shui Wan, translates into “Shallow Water Bay.”

Located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, the area around the Repulse Bay is a mostly residential neighborhood for European ex-patriates, with several large apartment buildings. One of those buildings has a very large square hole built into the center of it. According to local gossip, architects left the hole there because the Chinese believe that a dragon lives in every mountain and that dragon needs an unrestricted view of the sea. So, to keep the dragon happy, the apartment building has a big hole in it.

It’s that strange curvy apartment building that’s at the end of the little adventure of reaching the bay. From the Central Exchange Square MTR station, you can catch a double decker bus (6, 6A, 6X, 61 or 260) and sit on the top level for the journey. Up there, as the huge bus threads its way through small hilly roads around the island, the crowds of Victoria peter out into the rocky, tree-lined hills and waterfront vistas of the South China Sea. And past the secluded villas and private beaches of Deep Water Bay lie the Repulse Bay public beaches.

In the summer, changing rooms and showers are provided and lifeguards are on duty. Right off the beach are fast-food stalls, a restaurant complex and a supermarket. Although it’s got lots of pretty yellow sand and a long beachfront, the water quality varies from semi-clean to murky. But in a place that has the highest population per square mile, any sort of beachfront is a relief compared to the mess of concrete and human traffic that is Hong Kong.

On the east side of the beach stand two huge stone statues, one of Tin Hau, the Goddess of Heaven and one of Kwun Yum, the Goddess of Mercy. They guard the outside of the the Life Guard Club, a bright orange and green temple-like building that houses a large collection of stone deities of all sizes.

In the center of the beach lies stone steps leading to a verandah. A remnant of colonial times, The Verandah is a restaurant that used to be the verandah to the Repulse Bay Hotel, a landmark for many years until it was torn down to make way for high rise apartments. The Verandah and the Arcade shops behind it is a duplica of the verandah of the original Repulse Bay Hotel.

See also: The Repulse Bay Hotel