Where to swim in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has lots of options if you like swimming. Here are some of my favourite places for a swim, plus details on opening times, costs, etc.

MrB's favourites

I'm writing this in December, so let's start with the heated pools. The indoor pools I visit regularly are the public government-run pool in Kowloon park, and the pool at the South China Amateur Athletic Association in Caroline Hill. As a family we've recently joined the Stanford Swimming club, so I've also been swimming there a few times over the last few months.

There are more options from April to the end of November, as the outdoor public pools are open then. I have to avoid the strong sunshine, so I only visit the outdoor pools in late afternoon / evening. Most often I'll head to the public pools in Kennedy Town or Victoria Park.

We're lucky to have lots of good beaches too. You can certainly swim all year round, though in winter it is more of a quick dash in and out. During summertime the seawater is very comfortable, and both you and your children can stay in as long as you want. I find it is getting chilly around November-time, which is when the government chart shows the sea temperature drops under 23 deg. C. It keeps falling, dropping under 17 deg. C. in February, then warming up til it passes the 23 deg. mark again around mid-April. Jun-Oct see the temperature hover around 27 deg!

On Hong Kong island we regularly visit Deep Water Bay and Chung Hom Kok beach. A little further away we like Lo So Shing on Lamma. Then my favourite is Tai Long Wan in the North-east New Territories. That needs a longer hike to get to though, so we won't be going there again until our girls are older.

Notes for visitors

If you like swimming, consider choosing a hotel with a swimming pool. Larger hotels heat their outdoor pools, which allow year-round use. When my sister & her family visited one Christmas, they got a kick out of swimming outdoors in December.

Otherwise the public pools in Victoria Park (April-Nov) or Kowloon Park (year-round) make a good choice.

Notes for residents

If you are moving to Hong Kong with children, think about swimming pool facilities when you are choosing where to live. It can be one of the advantages of living in a new larger development (eg Ocean Shores, Park Island, The Belchers, etc). These developments with several residential towers typically have a 50-metre outdoor pool plus a smaller indoor pool. Smaller single-tower developments may only have a small outdoor pool – too short for laps, but still fun for children to splash around in, meet other children, and burn off some energy!

What else you should know

SCAA

My favourite 50m pool for lap swimming. It's never too crowded, and the water is a good temperature – not too warm in summer and warm enough in winter. I can't find any details in English on the latest version [Sep 2010] of their website, You can contact them at info@scaa.org.hk, or visit them at 88 Caroline Hill Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

Points to note:

  • They close each year from mid-Jan to end of Feb for maintenance
  • Each session costs HK$22, but you must also be a member. Membership costs HK$100 a year, or HK$50 a month for visitors
  • There's a warmer 25m pool too if you're just splashing around with children
  • You need to bring your own padlock for the lockers
  • The lockers are small, so don't bring a bulky bag!

Stanford Swimming Club

They run the swimming pool in Chi Fu Fa Yuen, which is convenient if you live near Pok Fu Lam. Only a 25m pool, and one that is kept at a very warm temperature. Good for swimming with your children (the main use of the pool seems to be for children's swimming lessons), but check the temperature if you're planning on swimming laps, as I find it uncomfortably warm.

Their website is all in Chinese, but there are english-speaking staff at the pool. Annual membership is HK$200, then per-session costs are HK$28-38, depending on how many tickets you buy. Locker keys are provided each visit.

Opening hours: 0700-0945, 1000-1245, 1300-1545, 1600-1845, 1900-2145.

Public Pools

The government-run public pools usually have one or more 50m pools, plus a shallow pool for children. Entrance is $19 per session, with three sessions each day: 6:30am-12:00, 1:00-6:00, and 7:00-10:00pm. Lockers are provided and you can either insert a HK$5 coin (refundable) to get a locker key, or lock it with your own padlock. Check the government website for a map of the public pools in Hong Kong and Kowloon.

Points to watch out for:

  • Your neighbour's elbow. If you reach the pool at 7pm, you're going to hit the rush-hour for public swimming pools. You'll either need to perfect your slalom-stroke, or collect a few bumps and kicks along the way. If you can, swim during the daytime or later in the evening instead, or head along to the SCAA.
  • Check it's really open! The pools may be closed for a variety of reasons:
    • It's a cleaning day.
      One day each week, the pool shuts from 10:00-7:00 for cleaning. Check the cleansing schedule for details.
    • The pool is booked.
      Sometimes the pool will be booked for a school swimming gala, and so closed to the public. This mainly seems to affect the Kowloon Park and Victoria Park pools. Again you can check online to see if your pool is affected.
    • There's a chance of rain later.
      Ok, they don't close if it's raining, but they will shut outdoor pools if there's a thunderstorm warning – which can often happen without a sign of rain or thunder anywhere nearby.

Beaches

Swimming in the sea is one of the pleasures of life here. The government has a list of 'public bathing beaches', where you can expect to find showers and changing rooms, anti-shark nets, and tethered platforms to swim out to.

Note that the Tai Long Wan beach mentioned above doesn't fall under that category, so there are no public facilities. Though when we've visited in the past, one of the cafes has a hose out front you can use to rinse off after a swim. The lack of facilities are part of the attraction though, along with the beautiful beach and waves big enough for body-surfing.

Points to watch out for:

  • Sharks.
    Not really something you need worry about, though you'll see there are nets around the beaches, officially to keep sharks out. In the 1990's several people died from shark attacks in the Clearwater Bay area. Since the nets have been installed, there have been no further fatalities.
  • Jellyfish.
    A couple of times a year we'll get a sting, nothing serious and the sensation goes away after a few minutes. I've only had problems with them at Lo So Shing beach.
  • Sea-urchins.
    A pain if you step on one. They seem to come onto Deep Water Bay beach around April-May time each year, but we haven't had problems with them anywhere else. We've trodden on them a couple of times. They weren't poisonous, but it's a hassle having to dig out the spines.
  • Dirty water.
    You can also check the local beaches' water quality online. The beaches we've mentioned all get the top 'good' grade, but you might still need to avoid them after heavy rain. The government suggests waiting up to three days after heavy rain before going swimming. There are two different problems – first is heavy rain after a long dry spell, when the rain washes accumulated pollutants from the roads down to the sea. Then there is a longer spell of heavy rain in areas where there is no mains sewage facilities, causing septic tanks to overflow... So, definitely worth checking those water quality ratings again if it's been raining heavily.

Javascript is required to view this map.

Beaches   Swimming Pools
F - Deep Water Bay   A - Kowloon Park
G - Chung Hom Kok beach   B - SCAA
H - Lo So Shing   C - Stanford Swimming Club @ Chi Fu
J - Tai Long Wan   D - Kennedy Town

  E - Victoria Park

Where do you like to go swimming in Hong Kong?

Regards, MrB

Comments

Swimming for the kiddies

As you mention kiddies in your post, 3 pools should deserve a special mention. You didnt include them, so please allow me :-)

ChingYi Public Pool : very chilly in the winter, but wonderfully fun in the summer. Can be seen from the Airport Express. Lots of distractions for kids including some very nice slides for the bigger kids.

SaiKung Town Public Pool : Similar to ChingYi (outdoor), but has the added advantage of being close to the yummy seafood restaurants. Arrive early for a morning session, go for lunch when the pool closes for lunch and then back to the pool after a satisfying meal.

Hammer Hill Public Pool : Close to ChoiHung MTR; features multiple areas full of fun things todo and explore for the kids and the young at heart. Partially indoors to give some protection from the elements. Kiddie favorite!

Swimming in Kowloon

Thanks Tony. As you can see from the map, I don't venture far from HK island for swimming, so thanks for the recommendations on Kowloon side.

MrB

Clearwater Bay

The only place we go is Clearwater Bay Second Beach. Granted, only one of our family members is a "swimmer" (the rest are splashers and flounderers), but we love this beach. It is only about 5 minutes from our home, which helps! It's crowded on summer weekends, but the rest of the time, very enjoyable (but there are 108 steps down and back up again, so if you or your kids don't "do steps" this is a place to avoid!).

Hap Mun Beach is a fun beach as well--take a boat from Sai Kung. They have BBQ facilities and a nice wide lifeguarded beach. Probably our kids' favorite beach.

M

Other places to swim

Some people swim in the Victoria Harbour every morning.  Namely off Hung Hum, Tsim Sha Tsui East and Mount Davis.  It is not recommended for ordinary people because of the safety & the water quality.

Other people will charter a cruising boat in the summer time, enjoying the cruise & swim in the eastern part of Hong Kong.  Popular places are Sai Kung, Sek O.  The water is cleaner, but also can be packed with people.

Cheers,

isdl

turtle cove

Back in the 1950s/early1960s,I used to go to turtle cove.
It is a small beach, but lovely. It used to have a private beachut (just one) and few people even knew of its existance.
It had a small single person path down to it from the main road (no signpost).
It was a beautiful little beach, and I spent many happy hours on it.
I am sure it has changed now - I can see lots of houses around on Google, and even a barbecue spot close to where the beach hut used to be.
Greg

turtle cove

The way this Wikipedia article describes it, it still sounds like a good beach to go to. I've never visited it, so I'll have to make the effort to pay a visit there once the water warms up again. It looks like it would be a good place to end up after a hike in the Tai Tam area.

MrB

Lai Chi Kok Beach

Like Mr. Fripp, I recall my days but at a different beach almost 60 years ago.
Cheung Sha Wan Road used to end at Lai Wan Road and beyond it was the Lai Chi Kok amusement park and the natural beach. The Number 12 bus route terminated there among others. Later, this beach was completely filled in. On could rent a boat and paddle out to that tiny rocky island just outside the bend of the bay, called "Lin Ding (Lonely Tiny) Island".
The water of this beach wasn't the cleanest in HK and was cycled somewhat by the rise and fall of the tides. There were several change/shower stalls along Lai Wan Road which today we know would have contaminated the water. But then, those were the happy days for many including this young boy.

Lai Chi Kok

the site http://www.hk-place.com happens to have some discussion about the LCK amusement park, with some old pictures of that area. (chinese language only, sorry mate).

Today's LCK Road Flyover was called "LCK Bridge", comparable to that of "Tsing Yi Bridge".  Mei Foo Sun Chuen was sitting on the waterfront but now deep inland.

Cheers,

isdl

turtle cove visit

I can strongly reccomend visiting turtle cove!
Although it may have changed a bit in the last 40 years it still seems to retain its old-fashioned charm.
I wonder if the old gun emplacement is still down by the beach? (you used to be able to scramble up from the beach area)
If you do visit later in the year, I would love to hear what you think of it now.
Greg

Turtle cove

Greg,

I'll be sure to take a camera along when I go, to bring you back some photos of how it looks today.

Regards, MrB

Lai Chi Kok beach

One of Fred Evans' photos is of that area in the 1950s.

hong kong

Hi Gregory, came across this site by accident and wondered if you remember me, I use to go to turtle cove often when I lived in HK. If you get this it would be good to make contact. Michele

Hong Kong / Michele

Michele, a couple of links I hope will be useful for you:

MrB

michele

hi,
delighted to hear from you.
please CONTACT ME off batgung .
my email address is;
frippgreg@mac.com
delighted to hear from you.
greg

michelle

Michelle, I cant get hold of your email address as you havent registered for this site.
You will have to contact me from the information I have put on in regard to your email.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Greg

Swimming at the YM/WCA

The local Y's also have pools, though I can't find a single list of them. To my knowledge there are pools at:

Are there any others I'm missing? There used to be one at the YMCA on Waterloo Road, but I see it's changed name to 'The City View' hotel, and I can't see if there is any public access allowed to the pool.

I've also got a feeling there should be a YMCA pool around Sheung Wan / Sai Ying Poon on Hong Kong Island, but again I can't find it on the web.

If you've swum at any of the pools listed above, what were they like?

YMCA pool in Sheung Wan

I found this one at last, when I happened to be walking past it. It's in the basement of teh YMCA centre at 51 Bridges Street. (It's a lovely old red-brick building, so worth a look even if you're not interested in swimming.)

It looks like the pool is mainly used for children's swimming lessons. 

There are times you can just go in for a swim ($40 a time, plus a membership fee). But it's only a small pool, about 20m long I'd guess.

Visit their website for more details.

 hi, I am looking for a 50m

 hi,

I am looking for a 50m swimming pool in Hong kong island, and I have been told about the SCAA pool. I kept looking for a website with opening hours, price, address and other infos but couldn't find anything. You wrote down a link for these infos, but they don't work anymore. Could anyone send me a working link? or give me the infos. i want to go swimming three times a week, just doing laps, so I don't need (= avoid) teaching class time :))

the less people, the better :))

thank you very much for your help,

marie

SCAA swimming pool details

I just took a look at their website, and couldn't find anything in english either. But I was swimming there last Friday, so it's definitely still going strong!

You can contact them at info@scaa.org.hk, or visit them at 88 Caroline Hill Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. As you walk up Caroline Hill Road, look for this entrance on the left:


View Larger Map

It's opposite a bus stop. Turn left into the short road (it leads to their car park), walk up the steps at the end and go inside. During office hours there are several counters open on your right where you can ask questions, and apply for membership.

Regards, MrB

Re: All the Google markers are off

Hi there,

Don't know if it's Google or if it's something else.  I just found all the markers are off they do not match the index.

Best Regards,

T

Re: All the Google markers are off

Thanks Thomas. Not sure what happened there, but I've matched up the labels and markers again.

Swimming Classes at Park Island

Hi MrB,

You mentioned that you Park Island has many pools and I was just wondering if you were aware of swimming classes there, for even adults? Thanks!