Kids need space to play and sometimes people see Hong Kong as too overbuilt to provide good play areas. If you are willing to look, you will find some great open spaces with playgrounds for the kids to explore and enjoy here.
Quarry Bay Park ticks all the boxes. It has possibly the largest single playground I have seen on Hong Kong island along with open space, gardens, sports facilities, a nice waterfront promenade to walk along and a retired fire boat. Added bonus that it is within walking distance of a large shopping mall (CityPlaza in Taikoo Shing) with undercover parking (albeit paid).
You might be able to see some of the playground behind Mitchell. Elevated pathways, bridges, slides and climbing areas had my two sprogs delighted as they let their imagination run wild on all the equipment hunting for treasure, avoiding sharks and crocodiles, then racing each other down ‘waterfalls’ (on several of the slides).
The playground has plenty of diversity for young minds with energy to burn and “soft” concrete everywhere to cushion any unfortunate falls. The only disadvantage to this area is the size of the playground. It is a challenge for an eagle-eye parent like me to constantly keep my sprogs in sight without physically chasing along behind them, especially when the area is busy (normally busiest on weekends).
A walk across the overpass (over the motorway) gave the kids a fantastic discovery – a retired fire boat (the Alexander Grantham) they could explore inside and out.
The boat is dry-docked and open to the public. The kids were able to see the engine room, walk into some of the cabins, climb onto the top deck and pretend to extinguish a fire with one of the water cannons and then go below the boat to look at its hull.
There are ‘guides’ on hand to answer questions, but they weren’t overly keen to speak in English unfortunately and tried to avoid us. The ability to get up close to the propellers and rudder gave the kids an understanding of how boats work and what is hiding beneath the water when they see a boat or ship on the harbour. It lead to Bethany asking a number of questions about what happens to animals, objects or people if they get hit by boat propellers. It made her think about not only motion, but also consequences. (Yay for enquiry learning!)
Around the bottom of the hull a variety of interactive activities are set up to teach children (and adults) about fire fighting, fire boats and the history of harbour fires the Alexander Grantham helped extinguish in Hong Kong.
There was also a display of the high speed fire boats currently servicing Hong Kong. Something must have registered from this as the sprogs have been able to identify the modern day fire boats racing along the harbour on a couple of occasions since our visit.
Back to Quarry Bay Park, there is some wonderful harbour-side walking to be had. Not only can you watch the goings on within Victoria Harbour, but there are normally a couple of small cruise ships anchored across the way as well as the ongoing development at the old Kai Tak runway as it evolves into a cruise terminal on the other side of the harbour.
The park is used for a variety of social activities which on their own can also make for an interesting and varied experience. We were lucky enough to see a group rehearsing a dance with chinese paper fans, while another group wielded wooden swords in a slow duelling dance. We sat to watch the fan dance for about 10 minutes – the kids engaged and intrigued the whole time.
I love that there is always something different happening in the park – you never know what you might see when you go. This is one of the parks my kids always love going back to (and will ask for it by name) purely for the playground but they are always happy to do a bit of exploring as well.
In the heat of summer most parks in Hong Kong become too hot to spend any amount of time at, Quarry Bay Park included, but for the rest of the year it is a great spot to let the kids run wild. Maybe we’ll see you down there. 😉