A look at the quiet side of Macau

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 19 2014 07:44 AM | Updated as of Apr 20 2014 08:45 AM

Take a break from the casinos by visiting this quiet island of Coloane. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Unknown to many, Macau has much more to offer than luxurious hotels and flashy casinos.

At the southern and least touristy part of Macau is a quiet island called Coloane (pronounced by locals as kolo-wan), which is just a bus away from the glitzy Cotai strip. The island, which used to be a haven for pirates, is a wonderful break from Macau’s busy streets and crowded casino halls.

The fusion of Chinese and Portuguese influences can be easily seen in the now pirate-free Coloane, from its cobblestone streets to its pastel-colored houses and churches. A well-known landmark here is the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, which serves as a major place of worship for Catholic residents.

The Chapel of St. Francis Xavier is the main place of worship for Catholics living in Coloane. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Just a stone’s throw away from the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier is a monument that commemorates the victory of the people of Coloane against pirates in 1910.

This monument marks Coloane’s victory over pirates. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Visitors can freely walk around the island and take a look at “colonial leftovers” such as Portuguese-style houses and shops. This is also the ideal place to sit down and read a book by the water, or get a glimpse of mainland China.

This part of Coloane gives you a view of mainland China. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Coloane is also home to a few small shrines such as Sam Seng Temple, where visitors can ask for good luck and more wealth by lighting incense sticks or rubbing the sides of a special bowl.

Inside Sam Seng Temple. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Those who want to sample the local cuisine can try Coloane’s numerous al fresco dining spots, which serve anything from the popular African chicken to delicious seafood.

For dessert, make sure to drop by Lord Stow’s Bakery, which specializes in Portuguese egg tarts, croissants and other pastries.

A staff member prepares egg tarts at Lord Stow’s in Coloane island. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Exploring the island on foot can easily take up an entire day, but those who want to see more can take a bus ride and visit the Seak Pai Van Park, which is home to Macau’s two rare giant pandas. There are also a few other animals here, but the main attraction are the two cute and fluffy pandas that do nothing but eat and sleep.

One of the pandas at Seak Pai Van Park. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

While it is not as exciting as the rest of Macau, Coloane island has a unique charm that is well worth a detour from the main tourist circuit.