I used to live on Lamma Island (just off Hong Kong) for just over a year and loved it. It is a beautiful island and totally unlike mainland Hong Kong. There are no cars, or high rise blocks of flats, instead you are surrounded by greenery, nature (including beautiful butterflies, frogs and birds) and some nice beaches. People either get around on foot or bike.
A lot of expats live on the island alongside local Chinese residents. I found everyone really friendly, helpful and easy to get along with. Luckily my brother lives there, so when i arrived, he was able to introduce me to a lot of people and i soon settled in.
I took the ferry and then a bus to and from work everyday (along with a lot of other Lamma residents) which wasn't a problem. The daily commute was over an hour there and the same coming back, but the ferries are very regular and you don't have to hang around for ages.
Lamma island gets mixed reports as a lot of people think that Lamma is full of hippies/druggies and lost souls. Sure, its a bit of a party island, but there are many other things to do other than stay up all night. There are some BEAUTIFUL walks to go on around the island and some fantastic seafood restaurants to eat in. Many families live on the island too and there is a real community and laid back feel to the place. It does seem to be a bit of a magnet for musicians, artists and creative people which makes the island a really vibrant, interesting and colourful place to live in. I met some fascinating people from all walks of life there!
Like you, i like being outdoors and being active. Lamma is a great place for this. I joined a ladies dragon boat team called the 'Lamma Ladies' which was fantastic, theres nothing like being out on the open water and being part of a great team. There is also an outrigging team if that floats your boat ('scuse the pun).
Living on the island is a hell of a lot cheaper than living in Hong Kong. You can rent out a 2 bed place (700 sq ft) for just over £100 between you per week. The flats on Lamma island are very spacious compared to some of the shoe boxes you get on Hong Kong. Many of the flats on Lamma have roof top balconies which are huge and have great views of the sea and greenery.
After living there for a year, i came back to England (regretably) with money saved! I don't think i would have been able to do that had i lived in Hong Kong. If i'd been able to, i would still be living on Lamma!
One of the interesting things about the flats all over Hong Kong (including the flats on the islands) are the kitchens are tiny. You'll find that most kitchens have 2 cooking rings to cook off and thats it. Its rare to have an oven in the kitchen, as not much baking seems to go on in Hong Kong and most people go out to eat as its so cheap.
I feel i had the best of both worlds living on Lamma. I could go into Mainland Hong Kong if i wanted to be in the buzz of the city (it only takes between 20-30 mins on the ferry, depending if you get a slow or fast one) or stay on Lamma surrounded by nature and greenery. The air felt a lot cleaner on Lamma than Hong Kong and it feels like the sun is always shining. I think the best time of year is Oct-Nov. Its not so humid but the sun is still quite hot.
I feel like i've gone on and on about Lamma, but it really is a great place to live if you want to be close to the beach, nature and save money!!
I would highly recommend moving to Hong Kong-its such an exciting, interesting culture and you've got nothing to lose by going for it-you really won't regret it! Good luck with whatever you decide to do