11. Bluff Island (Sha Tong Hau Shan), Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong’s non-concrete jungle that you never knew existed
As one of the world’s most densely populated cities, most people (including me, before I visited) think of Hong Kong as the land of skyscrapers and more than 7 million people. Turns out, that “land” only accounts for a mere 30% of the vast area; the majority is barrier islands, wetlands, woodlands, and protected country parks. One such park, Hong Kong National Geopark, was formed during dinosaur days 140 million years ago; lying within are region’s most breathtaking natural sites that are essentially tourist-free, and not even all Hongkongers (yes, this is the term locals refer to themselves as) know about. Don’t sleep on one of the true finds of this rocky and blue water wonderland: Sha Tong Hau Shan (aka Bluff Island).
To get there, nab a boat Sai Kung Pier, and cruise past some massive mountains formations, which resemble Jurassic Park. Once arriving at the remote Bluff Island you will feel as if you’re in a real-life Castaway: powder-white beaches, crystal waters, and even trees covered in red pineapples (you can’t really eat them, but still). From above, the island resembles a turtle with four extended legs, and is packed with lush trees, wooded spaces, and an array of natural rock areas that even the fanciest spa could never replicate. Plus, it’s home Sha Tong Hau Cave, one of the biggest sea caves in the eastern waters, making it the ideal spot to figuratively and literally dive into surrounding South China Sea, via kayak, scuba suit — or just floating on your back, pretending you temporarily live there with Wilson. — Liz Newman