In an accessible area of south-west Lantau Island lies a 200-unit 1970s luxury resort called Sea Ranch.
The eerie residential development was once described by Time Out as feeling “like visiting Discovery Bay after a direct hit from a neutron bomb.”
The complex was completed in 1979, but accrued massive debt and was the subject of years of legal wrangling which led to the closure of its clubhouse in the 1990s.
Back in the 1970s, it was promoted to upmarket clientele as a “community with every luxury.”
Brochures boasted top-notch restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a sports complex, sauna, nursery, library, a man-made beach and high-tech seaview apartments.
However, the games arcade, restaurant areas, lounges, kitchens and what was once the largest private pool in Hong Kong have since been left to rot.
Despite its notoriety, the self-contained enclave in Chi Ma Wan has idyllic surroundings and is visible to passengers on the Hong Kong-Macau ferry routes.
In its heyday, a Priscilla Chan music video was shot at the resort.
Today, the clubhouse’s art deco angles slice into the rapidly encroaching Lantau jungle.
There is now renewed interest, with several units undergoing refurbishment and more residents moving there, attracted by the secluded setting.
Though security at the site is tight, some urban explorers have vandalised or left their mark on the decaying property.
There are currently units available for between HK$2.2m and HK$4.7m – a fraction of what would-be homeowners would pay in more developed parts of Hong Kong.
Over 100 residents live at the resort as of 2018.
The current handful of tenants must bring in all their supplies by boat and face a long commute to the city via Cheung Chau. No shops or restaurants exist at the resort – only a small stand on the pier sells soda pop.
Power is provided by CLP generators; there is no internet but mobile broadband works well.
Water is free of charge from a nearby hill and bottled gas is delivered on demand. Management fees are high, as sewage costs, security staff, gardeners and the residents’ ferry are costly to maintain.
The area is officially private but the beach is open to the public. Only guests accompanied by residents are welcome at Sea Ranch. However, visitors can hike to the development from neighbouring Tai Long Wan or hire a 25-minute private boat from Cheung Chau. Disclaimer: Trespassing is against the law and we do not encourage others to do so.