Categories > Guides and Tips

Answered Why is it called Repulse Bay

Answered: Why is it called Repulse Bay? 

“Well, I hope it’s not called Repulse Bay because it’s a repulsive sight. Otherwise, I won’t be going!” – is exactly what my friend said when I told him about this beachfront retreat in Hong Kong.

Can you blame the guy for that attitude? It’s a strange name to attach to one of the city’s most iconic tourist spots, and a really beautiful one at that!

So, if you’re just as curious as he is about this bay, I’ll let you in on some insights on how it got its name. 

Why is it called Repulse Bay? 

A snapshot of a signboard or monument displaying “Repulse Bay”

Repulse Bay supposedly got its name during the British occupation, when the army managed to scare off (repulse) some pesky pirates from the area. However, another story suggests it might have been named after the HMS Repulse, a famous ship stationed in the bay.

Interestingly enough, in Chinese, the bay goes by Tsin Shui Wan, which translates to “Shallow Water Bay”. But of course, the English one is more popular because it’s odder-sounding.

Theory 1: Pirate Attack

Back in the early 1840s, during the British occupation of Hong Kong, Repulse Bay was a bustling spot for pirates, a sort of luxurious headquarters for their shenanigans. 

They had this ideal setup – a serene bay providing cover, making it oh-so-easy to pounce on passing ships and loot them without breaking a sweat. It was like a pirate’s dream office space, right?

But then, enter the British Fleet, which had zero tolerance for these maritime mischief-makers. The pirates might have thought they hit the jackpot with their cozy hideout, but they definitely didn’t account for the Brits crashing their party.

In a showdown that was part swashbuckling spectacle and part strategic naval warfare, the British Fleet swooped in, swords (or rather, cannons) blazing. There were cannonballs booming and sails billowing.

And guess what? The pirates were outsmarted, outgunned, and ultimately, out of luck. The British successfully “repulsed” the pirates, reclaiming the bay for good ol’ law-abiding maritime traffic. 

The victory was so legendary that the name ‘Repulse Bay’ stuck around as a testament to this triumph over the high-seas troublemakers.

Theory 2: HMS Repulse

Legend has it that the mighty HMS Repulse, a ship that could probably make even mermaids swoon with envy, supposedly played a role in naming Repulse Bay. 

Now, before you raise an eyebrow and yell, “Hold your seahorses!” – yes, historical records are quite hazy about the HMS Repulse actually parking its anchor in the bay. 

In fact, records seem to say that no HMS Repulse ever visited Hong Kong, let alone Repulse Bay. Officially, the 1868 Repulse only sailed along the west coast of the Americas (1872–77) and thereafter in British waters. 

It’s as if the very essence of ‘Repulse Bay’ was only a cheeky nod to this renowned ship, whether it docked there incognito or not. Talk about adding a touch of naval glamour to an already scenic spot!

So, while history might play a game of ‘he said, ship said’ regarding the HMS Repulse’s direct connection to the bay, the legend persists. 

Related topics