Peng Chau: the little island that could be

Living on one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands — Lamma, Lantau, Cheung Chau — has always been a lifestyle choice. The relative peace and quiet, cleaner air, friendlier neighbours, and a more vivid sense of community are among the reasons the islands have attracted locals and expatriates alike for many years. It helps that since the surges of 2012 and 2016, prices for both purchases and rentals are considerably lower than in most parts of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and often offer up more space and far more value for the dollar. Now, tiny Peng Chau, just off the east coast from Discovery Bay, is throwing its hat into the lifestyle living ring.

Peng Chau Paloma Bay

The Lantau Alternative

At just about one square kilometre in size —11 million square feet, or the size of five-and-a-half Ocean Terminals — Peng Chau is one of the SAR’s smallest regularly inhabited islands. During the 1970s, it was a busy industrial spot, but eventually reverted to its more rural, fishing village roots in the late 1980s and early-’90s. The island is still dotted with the ruins of old workshops (a match factory, a lime kiln), as well as a clutch of temples.

Despite its small size (5,000 people called it home as of 2011 according to the Census and Statistics Department), Peng Chau has plenty to do on the hiking front, including a walk that takes visitors up to Finger Hill, and a good number of dining options on the village’s rabbit warren of streets, particularly cha chaan tengs showing off Hong Kong-style snacks. Peng Chau retains precisely the kind of environment many Hongkongers lament is being swept away in favour of gentrification in other parts of the city.

Paloma Cove living room

With a direct, 30-minute ferry from Central as well as local ferries from Mui Wo, Discovery Bay, Chi Ma Wan and Cheung Chau, Peng Chau is more easily accessible than popular perception would indicate, making it an ideal location as the next great lifestyle neighbourhood. As Discovery Bay’s prices continue to creep up, Mui Wo flirts with over-crowding and traffic snarls (Peng Chau is car-free), and Sai Kung continues its march to luxury, Peng Chau is emerging as a viable alternative to all three. Easily the most relaxed island community, it’s also the most affordable. With median rents in Discovery Bay hovering around $21,000, new developments in Peng Chau are beginning to attract tenants looking for better rates. “The provision of high quality supply... could draw more leasing and investment interest in Peng Chau,” JLL Associate Director of Research Ingrid Cheh told the SCMP last year. 

New supply is indeed coming to Peng Chau, something that has not happened on the island since 1997. Among the new supply potentially in the pipeline where tenders were awarded are a 40-unit development on Peng Lei Road by Well Power Electronics, a five-home project by Agile Property and Sino Kingdom, and another four by Ocean Gain
Construction and Smart Champion. The most prominent developer to show confidence in Peng Chau is Sino Group, whose Paloma Bay (52 leasing flats and two villas) and the Tung Wan side’s Paloma Cove (10 villas) lead the pack. And those new properties are indeed drawing the leasing Cheh cited. “We’ve moved quite a lot of people from Discovery Bay to Peng Chau. It’s very reasonable,” argues Edina Wong, Savills’ head of residential services.

Related articles:

>> Living in Peng Chau

Paloma Bay pool view

Fantasy Island

“Peng Chau is famous for its rustic island pleasure: a family-friendly community, a salubrious environment with enviable open spaces for outdoor activities, the soothing sounds of waves, breathtaking scenery, fascinating heritage destinations as well as palatable dining options,” says Sino Group’s Maria Lam, assistant general manager for leasing. Paloma Bay apartments begin at HK$17,000 per month, and Paloma Cove villas start at HK$40,000. The properties in the two developments can range anywhere from approximately 600 to 1,500 saleable square feet, and come fitted with roof terraces, gardens, balconies, or all three. 

In addition to new supply, second-hand property prices are a fraction of what they are elsewhere in the territory, raising the island’s profile. In December, a 589-square foot Monterey Villas property sold for HK$3.2 million — or HK$5,400 per square foot (both figures gross). In August, a Peng Lei Court property sold for HK$905,000. Prices like that were last seen in Discovery Bay or Sai Kung around the time of SARS. In the years to come, Peng Chau may also benefit from its close proximity to what will be the new East Lantau Metropolis if the government’s development plans are realised. 

Paloma Bay living room

Admittedly Peng Chau may not be the right fit for many, especially families with young children in school; the island is thin on education options, making a commute a must. But for families with older children and individual professionals, it has its appeal. Infrastructure is developing, retail and dining is blossoming, and many of the essentials already exist: a supermarket and wet market, a library, medical clinic, vet, police box and bank among other standard amenities are within five minutes of the ferry pier. With a direct connection to Lantau, it’s also a happy compromise for professionals who travel frequently. “It’s a growth market… If you look at Discovery Bay 50 years ago it was the same. Why would you want to live there? Why would you want to be on Lantau?” argues Wong. Now it’s a matter of why you’d want to be on Lantau when you could be on Peng Chau.