Po Toi island is Hong Kong’s most southernmost territory. With its stunning, rugged landscape and amazing variety of wild flora and fauna, it is a unique gem in Hong Kong’s waters.
But with no mains electricity or water supply, the ageing population struggle to keep up with Hong Kong life in the 20th century. Po Toi is becoming more and more reliant on tourists to keep residents’ income alive.
Once home to over 1000 fishermen and farmers, the population is now below 200 with many young people having moved further north for fairer economic prospects.
This photo report documents a snapshot of life on the island:
The island of Po Toi is Hong Kong’s Southernmost Territory and is home to farmers, fishermen and seaweed harvesters.
Accessible only by ferries running four days per week, Po Toi is one of Hong Kong’s most remote islands. Ferries run from Stanley and Aberdeen, and take 45 minutes or 90 minutes respectively.
The remote, rugged terrain of Po Toi offers hikers a serene environment, and many tourists camp out in wild camps over the weekend.
Po Toi is famous for its rock formations. This, known as Conch Rock or Snail Rock, is perhaps the most well known, easily visible from the ferry as you enter the bay.
The island is home to 50 species of butterfly, as well as several endangered species. WWF say there are 328 species of birds on the island, and local activists are calling for the land to be designated as a protected country park.
The sleepy island comes to life during weekends, with seafood restaurants and a pristine beach attracting Hong Kong’s tourists who arrive on junk boats and private yachts.
Once home to over 1000 fishermen and farmers, the island’s population has dwindled to less than 200, with many of the younger generation moving to the city.
A local resident sells dried seafood and snacks to tourists; one of the few ways left for locals to make a living.
The aging population live a simple life, without many of the conveniences available on the mainland. Many homes are unrecognisable as Hong Kong residences, giving a glimpse of what life may have been like ifor previous generations.
There is no running water on Po Toi, so residents have created makeshift plumbing to filtered water from large plastic vats.
Remaining unconnected to Hong Kong’s power grid, the islanders have to produce their own electricity. Generators like this one create both noise pollution and petrid fumes.
The dwindling population has left many of the island homes abandoned and in ruins.
Despite its ramshackle, rundown appearance, Po Toi boasts some of Hong Kong’s most beautiful scenery and is well worth a trip to get away from the bustle of the city. This shrine on the island’s western shore is part of the Tin Hau Temple which was renovated in 1893.
A fisherman’s catch dries in the afternoon sun
An elderly Po Toi resident drinks iced tea in the fading afternoon sun