Victoria Harbour: The Iconic Waterfront of Hong Kong

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Victoria Harbour: The Iconic Waterfront of Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour is a natural landform harbour located in Hong Kong, separating Hong Kong Island in the south from the Kowloon Peninsula to the north. The harbour’s deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on the South China Sea were instrumental in Hong Kong’s establishment as a British colony in 1841 and its subsequent development as a trading center. Today, Victoria Harbour is one of the world’s most iconic harbours, attracting millions of visitors every year.

Victoria Harbour Sunset by Manson Yim via Unsplash
Victoria Harbour Sunset by Manson Yim via Unsplash

There are many ways to marvel at the beauty of Victoria Harbour. One of the most popular ways is to take a ride on the Star Ferry, which has been in operation since 1888 and offers stunning views of the harbour and the city skyline. Another option is to take a leisurely stroll along the harbourfront promenade, which stretches for over two kilometers and offers unobstructed views of the harbour and the surrounding areas. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Victoria Harbour is a must-see destination that will leave you in awe of its natural beauty and rich history.

Geographical Location

Victoria Harbour is a natural landform harbor located in Hong Kong, separating Hong Kong Island in the south from the Kowloon Peninsula to the north. The harbor’s deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on South China Sea were instrumental in Hong Kong’s establishment as a British colony in 1841 and its subsequent development as a major center of international trade.

The harbor covers an area of about 41.88 km² (16.17 sq mi) and is the third largest natural harbor in the world, after San Francisco in the United States and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The eastern boundary is generally considered to be the line formed between the easternmost extremity of Siu Chau Wan and A Kung Ngam.

Victoria Harbour is situated at the heart of Hong Kong, between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. This wide and deep natural harbor has facilitated the development of Hong Kong in the modern era. The harbor is surrounded by towering skyscrapers, including the famous Bank of China Tower, and is a popular tourist attraction, offering stunning views of the city’s skyline.

The harbor is also an important transportation hub, with a ferry service connecting Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, as well as a seaplane airport and a cruise ship destination for tourists and visitors to the city and Vancouver Island.

Historical Background

Victoria Harbour is a natural landform harbour located in Hong Kong. The harbour played an instrumental role in Hong Kong’s establishment as a British colony in 1841 and its subsequent development as a commercial and financial hub.

The harbour was named after Queen Victoria in 1850, who was the reigning monarch of the British Empire at the time. Before that, it was simply known as Hong Kong Harbour.

During the Second World War, the harbour was a strategic location for the Japanese military, who occupied Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945. The harbour was heavily bombed by Allied forces, causing significant damage to the surrounding infrastructure and buildings.

After the war, the harbour played a pivotal role in Hong Kong’s economic growth and development. The construction of Victoria Harbour’s container terminal in the 1970s helped transform Hong Kong into one of the world’s busiest ports.

Today, Victoria Harbour remains a vital transportation hub and tourist attraction in Hong Kong. It is home to the iconic skyline of Hong Kong Island, which features towering skyscrapers, brightly lit buildings, and a nightly light show that attracts millions of visitors each year.


Victoria Harbour is a popular tourist destination in Hong Kong, offering visitors a variety of attractions to explore. Here are some of the top attractions that you don’t want to miss:

Symphony of Lights

The Symphony of Lights is a spectacular light and sound show that takes place every night at 8:00 pm. The show features synchronized lights and music that illuminate the buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour. You can watch the show from various locations around the harbour, including Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and the Golden Bauhinia Square. The show is free to watch and lasts for around 15 minutes.

Avenue of Stars

The Avenue of Stars is a promenade that honors Hong Kong’s film industry. The promenade features handprints and statues of famous Hong Kong actors and actresses, as well as a bronze statue of Bruce Lee. You can also enjoy stunning views of Victoria Harbour from the promenade. The Avenue of Stars is currently undergoing renovation and is expected to reopen in 2022.

Hong Kong Maritime Museum

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum is located in Central and offers visitors a glimpse into Hong Kong’s maritime history. The museum features exhibits on the evolution of Hong Kong’s port, the lives of fishermen and boat people, and the role of the navy in Hong Kong’s history. The museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, and admission fees apply.

Economic Significance

Victoria Harbour is a bustling hub of economic activity that generates significant revenue for the Greater Victoria region. According to the Economic Impact Study for Victoria and Esquimalt Harbours, initiated by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, harbour-based activities generated $2.9 billion in economic output, supporting 14,983 jobs across Greater Victoria in 2019.

Both Victoria and Esquimalt harbours contribute to the region’s sense of community and economic stability. Victoria Harbour is home to a significant presence of social amenities and attractions, including the iconic Empress Hotel and the Royal BC Museum. Meanwhile, Esquimalt Harbour has the largest proportion of economic activity in the region, with a focus on marine and defence-related industries.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority plays a vital role in promoting economic growth and development in the region. It manages and operates both Victoria and Esquimalt harbours, providing essential services such as maintenance, security, and infrastructure development. The authority also works closely with local businesses and stakeholders to identify opportunities for growth and innovation.

The Economic Impact Study highlights the importance of Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Harbour to the region’s economy, demonstrating the need for continued investment and development. As the region continues to grow and evolve, these harbours will remain essential drivers of economic activity, providing jobs, revenue, and a sense of community for residents and visitors alike.

Environmental Concerns

Victoria Harbour has been a cause for concern due to its high pollution levels. According to a study, it is the most polluted harbour on the British Columbia coast [1]. The harbour is a vulnerable “receiving environment” due to its shallow water body with low circulation and sedimentation, which partly explains the high levels of harmful pollutants such as alkylphenols, dioxins, PCBs, PBDEs, pharmaceuticals, and hydrocarbons [1].

The high levels of pollution in the harbour are a result of various factors. The recreational use of the harbour is one of the factors contributing to the pollution. Oils and gases are released into the water due to recreational activities such as boating and fishing [0]. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the surrounding areas also contributes to the pollution levels in the harbour.

The land reclamation projects in the harbour have also raised environmental concerns. The expansion of the harbour has resulted in a decrease in the harbour’s width, affecting the number of vessels passing through the harbour. Additionally, land reclamation has resulted in the loss of natural habitats and has affected the water quality in the harbour [4].

Efforts are being made to address the environmental concerns in the harbour. The Victoria and Esquimalt Harbours Environmental Action Program (VEHEAP) is a program aimed at coordinating environmental protection and improvement efforts in the harbour [2]. The program includes initiatives such as the reduction of pollutants in the harbour and the promotion of sustainable practices in the surrounding areas.

In conclusion, the high pollution levels in Victoria Harbour are a cause for concern. The recreational use of the harbour, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the surrounding areas, and the land reclamation projects are some of the factors contributing to the pollution levels. However, there are efforts in place to address the environmental concerns and improve the quality of the harbour.


[0] Why is victoria’s inner harbour so polluted? – Learning Portal

[1] Victoria Harbour most polluted on B.C. coast: study – Vancouver Island Free Daily

[2] Victoria & Esquimalt Harbour Environmental Action Program | CRD

[4] Victoria Harbour – Wikipedia

Future Developments

Victoria Harbour is a bustling precinct with a lot of exciting developments in the pipeline. Here are a few of the most notable future developments to keep an eye on:

The Lendlease Collins Wharf Master Plan

The Lendlease Collins Wharf Master Plan is set to be the final piece of the Victoria Harbour puzzle. This development will take advantage of Victoria Harbour’s existing retail and public space, including Library at The Dock, Community Hub at The Dock, Knowledge Market and more than 80 dining and entertainment options – while adding diverse new public spaces. The plan includes a mix of residential, commercial, and public spaces, with a focus on sustainability and community engagement.

Tay’s Future Victoria Harbour Development

Tay is treading carefully with future Victoria Harbour development due to vulnerable water and wastewater challenges. Tay will be approaching the lifting of holding provisions on vacant plots in Grandview Beach and Paradise Point with a precise strategy. The goal is to ensure that any new development is sustainable and responsible, taking into account the unique challenges of the area.

Victoria Dockside Commercial Development

Tsim Sha Tsui’s Avenue of Stars is currently being rebuilt in conjunction with the new Victoria Dockside commercial development. This development includes a mix of retail, commercial, and residential spaces, as well as a new cultural center. The project is being developed by New World Development and is expected to be completed in the coming years.

Overall, Victoria Harbour is set to continue evolving and growing in the coming years, focusing on sustainability, community engagement, and responsible development. Keep an eye on these exciting future developments to see how Victoria Harbour will continue to transform in the years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular tourist spots in Hong Kong at night?

Hong Kong is known for its vibrant nightlife. Some of the popular tourist spots to visit at night include The Peak, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, and Lan Kwai Fong. These areas offer stunning views of the city skyline, delicious food, and entertainment options.

What are some areas in Hong Kong that are worth visiting?

Hong Kong has a lot of interesting areas to visit. Some of the must-visit areas include Central, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok. These areas offer a mix of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.

How can I get to Victoria Harbour?

Victoria Harbour is easily accessible by public transportation. You can take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui Station or Central Station and then walk to the harbour. Alternatively, you can take the Star Ferry from Central or Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui.

What makes Victoria Harbour so famous?

Victoria Harbour is famous for its stunning views of the Hong Kong skyline. It is also an important transportation hub, with ferries, cargo ships, and cruise ships passing through the harbour every day. The Symphony of Lights, a nightly light and sound show, is another popular attraction.

What activities can I do in Victoria Harbour?

There are many activities to do in Victoria Harbour. You can take a boat tour, cruise dinner, or watch the Symphony of Lights show. You can also walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade or visit the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

When is the light show in Victoria Harbour?

The Symphony of Lights show takes place every night at 8:00 pm. The show features a synchronized display of lights and music from buildings along the harbour. It is a must-see attraction for visitors to Hong Kong.

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Victoria Harbour: The Iconic Waterfront of Hong Kong
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