Hongkongers got the chance to enjoy a new harbourfront experience on Christmas Eve after a stretch of promenade opened to the public with a fence-free stepped area to the water’s edge and pedal boat rides.
The new 280-metre extension in Wan Chai brings the continuous length of the Victoria Harbour promenade along the north shore of Hong Kong Island to 7.4km by linking two existing sections. People can now walk along the waterfront all the way from Shek Tong Tsui to Fortress Hill.
Located in the 5,200 square metre Water Sports and Recreation Precinct (Phase 2), the extension features the harbour’s first fence-free, stepped-down design to the water’s edge, allowing people to get closer to the sea and watch events from a shorter distance.
The promenade, which includes concrete and wooden structures, features colourful installations reminiscent of Hong Kong’s past.
Visitors were full of praise for the new precinct, which is open round the clock and pet-friendly. In addition to lawns, outdoor tables and chairs, sunshades and children’s play facilities, it will also provide a multifunctional venue for activities as well as an access ramp to the water for boats for future competitions.
“It is the best way I can think of to celebrate Christmas with my daughter, without travelling out of town,” 28-year-old visitor Sugar Fong said. “Theme parks like Disney and Ocean Park are supposed to be crowded during the holidays, so here is so much better.”
Fong was not concerned about the steps not having a fence at the waterfront, saying the safety of her child was her responsibility.
“Victoria Harbour is part of the cultural identity of Hong Kong people, I appreciate the government’s efforts in building the promenade,” Fong added.
Another visitor, Alex Chan, was taking part in a team-building event with colleagues, and running from Central to Wan Chai.
“I think it is cool to run along the promenade, especially as more harbourfront locations become connected,” he said. “It is time for us to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of Hong Kong.”
Some parents brought their children for a pedal boat ride at the new extension. The rides, on trial for six months, will have different charges during the week.
“This special experience of playing in the water is unlike when we go to the beach or the resort hotels in the outlying islands. I will definitely try it a few times in the following days, not just at Christmas,” said Amy Wong, 34, who took a 45-minute ride with her husband.
The ride costs HK$200 (US$25) for 45 mins for two people over the holidays. However, according to the official website, bookings are already full over Christmas.
To ensure visitor safety, buoys and ladders have been installed at the steps. Specific guards will patrol around the steps on a 24-hour basis and lifeguard and life-saving speedboat services during the operating hours of water sports activities.
The waterfront promenade is expected to be extended to 34km by 2028, with HK$6.5 billion funding. The 2021 policy address anticipated the opening of 15 harbourfront projects by the end of this year. Phase 2 of the precinct is the 16th venue opened during the year.