Everybody was surfin’, surfin’ Big Wave Bay
Sometimes you forget how diverse this city we call home is. I’m definitely guilty of staying in my little Hong Kong bubble; living and working on the same road means I barely leave Sheung Wan! But as clichéd as it sounds, Hong Kong is (of course!) more than skyscrapers and traffic-clogged streets. There are hidden pockets of beauty on every corner of this small island just waiting to be discovered, or re-discovered if you’ve fallen into the trap of sticking to just one or two neighbourhoods.
With an invitation to try an outdoor activity on the other side of the island, I decided to break out of my regular routine and go surfing in Big Wave Bay with HK Waterman.
What You Need To Know Before You Go
– Hong Kong is compact – there are more than 7 million people living here, so don’t expect the beach to be empty on the weekend. The earlier you head out to the beach, the better. We started at 9am on Sunday but I’d recommend going even earlier… the fear of knocking your surfboard into a child’s head doesn’t exactly instill the deepest sense of confidence, so it’s best to go before the crowds hit.
– Obviously you’ll want to wear swimming gear, but I also opted for a top and shorts so I felt more confident clambering up onto the surfboard (oh-so-elegantly, might I add) and so that it wouldn’t irritate my skin. I’d definitely wear a rash guard/vest/top next time too as the sun can be stronger than you think (get that suncream on!).
– You’ve got to go with an open-mind, confidence and determination. Don’t be nervous or afraid about not being able to do it. It’s all about just giving it a go, trying something new and being determined to stand up on that board!
HK Waterman is run by Bo and Antony, two friendly guys with years of experience who are passionate about surfing, swimming and paddle-boarding. They offer group and one-on-one classes in Big Wave Bay throughout the week between 6am – 12pm, where they share their knowledge of the ocean and encourage more Hong Kongers to get out in the sea. Bo met us on the beach for a surf lesson, and started out with the basics. He showed us the surf technique of how to get up on the board and answered any questions we had, touching on surf safety. After a few ‘dry’ practices, we were in the water and ready to go!
As a complete surfing newbie, I had no idea what I was doing and was skeptical that I could even half get up on the board. But Bo was so easy-going and relaxed, explaining what would happen every step of the way. When a wave came, he would push us into it, which was super helpful as apparently it can be quite tricky if you have to catch the wave yourself. His one-on-one guidance was encouraging and he was able to give us tips throughout the whole session on how to improve our technique.
I managed sort of get up… emphasis on the ‘sort of’. Though I was not a natural surfer (pretty obvious in the video above…), I had so much fun at least trying to ride the waves and Bo did everything he could to help! It was clear to see how much he loved surfing and being in the water.
Why Do It
– It is SO. MUCH. FUN. Despite the many, many times I completely wiped out, I had a constant smile on my face and those endorphins went (quite literally) straight to my head.
– It was actually really tiring and I could feel it in my arm muscles the next day – now this is the kind of ‘work out’ I could get used to!
– It’s the perfect way to break out of the bubble and escape the fast-paced city life that’s too easy to get caught up in. There’s nothing like a dip in the ocean, sand beneath your feet and some Vitamin D to get you feeling refreshed. Great for physical and mental health, which so many of us tend to ignore here in HK.
– It made me appreciate how lucky I am to be living in one of the most vibrant, exciting cities in the world and still be able to easily access the beach and enjoy the outdoors. Even though I was born and raised in Hong Kong, I still couldn’t get over the fact that I was on the same island – only 35 minutes from where I work – surfing!
What are you waiting for? This is one unique Hong Kong experience I would recommend everyone trying at least once! More details below on how to book a class.
One-on-one surf lessons start from $800 per person, group lessons start at $600 per person. See here for more details.