Lamma is, in contrast to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, peaceful and tranquil, with relatively natural scenery. Buildings higher than three storeys are prohibited and there are no automobiles but diminutive fire trucks and ambulances, as well as distinctive open-back vehicles to transport construction materials. The community’s only transport means is by foot or bicycle.
Lamma provides an alternative to the hectic life in the city. Property and rents are cheap compared with those of central Hong Kong. Partly in consequence, there is a significant expatriate community on Lamma Island. It is also popular with younger people and a haven for artists and musicians.
When the British first came to the island, they used the colloquial pronunciation of Nam Ah, i.e. “Lam Ah (Lamma) as the name of the island. Another folk etymology says the name came from a former lamaist monastery on the island.