Deep Water Bay, on the south side of Hong Kong Island not far from Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and Stanley, is a distinctly tony neighbourhood. A beautiful beach and a villa lifestyle make it an envied address, and the fact that it’s convenient for Central via the Aberdeen tunnel doesn’t hurt. There’s basically only one route – via Island Road – to get there from more built-up areas though, so rush hour traffic can be bad and you can get caught up in the crowds heading to Stanley on weekends.
Deep Water Bay itself doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of schools, hospitals, shopping and the like – but it’s hardly a problem with Repulse Bay and Aberdeen just down the road with all they offer. If you’ve living here, it’s because you can afford it, and because you value the quiet and the views of hills and greenery – it’s an escape from the high-rise bustle of the city and some inconvenience may well be worth it. You’ll pay plenty for the privilege though, with rents extremely high for places that are usually much more spacious than city apartments.
Residents are a mix of moneyed locals and foreigners with good expat packages, although there’s a definite genteel sensibility that suggests the nouveau riche need not apply. Nonetheless, it’s a friendly, family-oriented area that people looking for a quiet life tend to appreciate.
In terms of amenities, there’s the classic trifecta of country club, golf club and yacht club. It’s possible to live an extremely pleasant life out here if you’re lucky enough to be a member. But the main draw, of course, is free: the beach. It’s small but more sheltered and far less crowded than Repulse Bay, and on a quiet afternoon is idyllic with various bays to explore. The water is not always the cleanest unfortunately, but the beach is well tended, and there are lifeguards on duty. The Seaview Promenade connects Deep Water Bay Beach to Repulse Bay Beach, and is a draw for walkers and runners alike with magnificent views of sea and hills. It could certainly become part of a very pleasant daily fitness regimen. There are changing rooms, showers and even barbecue pits. Expect to share the beach with daytrippers on the weekend, though Repulse Bay and Stanley tend to be the main southern Hong Kong Island draws; but Monday to Friday you’ll be surprised how quiet it can be here.
Unsurprisingly, there are also plenty of yachts to check out. Maybe if you fall under the spell of Deep Water Bay, one day you’ll find one of them is yours.
There are no medical facilities of note in Deep Water Bay. The closest hospital is the Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam.
You’ll have to send your kids elsewhere for their schooling, but not far – Aberdeen is the best option, only a ten-minute drive away. There’s the ESF South Island Secondary School on Nam Fung Road, as well as the Canadian International School of Hong Kong and Singapore International School, all excellent. For younger kids, Repulse Bay also offers Repulse Bay Montessori, Woodland Beachside Pre-School and Southside Kindergarten, as well as the primary-age campus of the Hong Kong International School (up to fifth grade).
There’s no MTR here (though a station is coming to Aberdeen), which is part of what keeps it exclusive. Most people in Deep Water Bay commute by car, and it’s only about twenty minutes to Central, assuming traffic is alright. However, you can also take buses 6, 6A and 260 into the city or the other way to Stanley. The 6 is usually a double-decker, and the views on the hillside road can be spectacular – meaning that tourists on buses are another factor behind weekend traffic slowdowns.
That’s the main thing to bear in mind for transport in Deep Water Bay: weekends and weekdays couldn’t be more different. Assuming good weather, come the weekend the hordes descend on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, and while their destination is usually Repulse Bay or Stanley rather than Deep Water Bay itself, they’re all on the same road. Residents learn to plan around the weekly influx and do their best to avoid getting stuck on the road at the wrong time.
Shops and Services
Deep Water Bay is far too classy for commerce: shopping has to be done in Aberdeen or Repulse Bay, and of course Stanley Market is pretty close for a weekend of browsing and enjoying the cafes and open-air restaurants. It’s not much of an inconvenience beyond making it tricky if you don’t have a car – but almost everybody living here does.
You don’t have to get in a car to have a meal out, though in a place this small there obviously isn’t a great depth of choice. Leaving private clubs aside (see below), Deep Water Bay has exactly two dining options, neither of which disappoints (and neither of which is particularly cheap). A decent Thai restaurant, Coco Thai, offers spectacular views from its beachside setting and is popular for its atmosphere as much as its food. Cococabana is also on the beach, with Mediterranean food and a good wine list. Both are great places to enjoy a sunny afternoon lunch or watch the sun go down at night, and both have outdoor terrace dining.
Of course, Repulse Bay, Aberdeen and Stanley are all a short drive away so in reality residents of Deep Water Bay can choose from a myriad of restaurants, including lots of great seafood places.
There are two main sports and recreation options, both exclusive, expensive and members-only. The Hong Kong Country Club has great facilities, including an adventure playground and outdoor play space for kids, as well as tennis, squash, bowling, a swimming pool, snooker, basketball. It has three restaurants of various levels of formality, with a wide range of culinary options including high-end Cantonese to be found. Locals lucky enough to be members can spend the large part of their weekend here, avoiding the traffic in and out of the area. It’s a fantastic resource to have within walking distance of your home, but becoming a member can take some time – they have a waiting list.
Deep Water Bay Golf Club was once the main home of the Hong Kong Golf Club before they moved on to a bigger space. It’s a nine-hole course, and non-members can only play on weekends. The course itself is unspectacular, but its setting is hard to beat.
Unsurprisingly, Deep Water Bay has a yacht club too. Middle Island, rising out of the sea 100 metres out, between Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay, houses the Middle Island Yacht Club – one of the three clubhouses of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. (There used to be a lot more institutions with ‘Royal’ in their name – the Yacht Club is one of the few to have retained it since handover in 1997.) They have their own ferry out to the island and offer sailing courses that are open to non-members too. It’s a great place for the kids to learn to sail, and with a pair of binoculars you can probably watch them from the mainland, or even out the window of your home. Middle Island also houses a smaller clubhouse of the Aberdeen Boat Club.
And if you have kids, don’t forget that you’re not that far from the spectacular Ocean Park in Nam Long Shan – one of the world’s most all-round enjoyable amusement parks, with rides, animal and marine life and thrilling views from a 1.5-kilometre cable car. You’ll be able to see Deep Water Bay from a whole new vantage point.