There are many spots in Hong Kong that can feel far removed from the city, but are in fact just round the corner. Then there are those rare spots that are genuinely far removed from civilisation.
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 fearless day trippers, yet still family friendly, Soko Islands is a hidden gem.
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 you are not travelling on your own private boat or charter such as a junk, 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 seafarers as you will cross exposed bodies of water. If in any doubt, arrange for a guide.
There are two main islands that you can spend time ashore on here, Siu A Chau and Tai A Chau. Both have several stunning beaches to enjoy and a pier that small vessels can safely alight at.
Read more: Your guide to exploring Green Egg Island
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 the big city, just across the sea.