Header image courtesy of @jessica_lkw (via Instagram)
Every year come autumn, we eagerly anticipate the myriad of festivities that the Moon festival brings. Although COVID-19 put a hitch in many of our traditions this year, like the lantern carnivals and fire dragon dance, it does not mean that all is lost! If anything, we have all the more opportunity to thoroughly appreciate what the occasion is centred around—the awe-inspiring spectacle of the full moon. Instead of letting the cancelled events dampen your spirits, why not go for a moongazing expedition with your family and close friends to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival this year?
While Hong Kong is notorious for its light pollution and towering skyscrapers, you can still find patches of dark skies to enjoy stunning lunar vistas if you know where to look. Luckily, we’ve done all the work for you—so sit tight as we give you a rundown of the best eight spots for moongazing in Hong Kong!
Hands down, Hong Kong’s outlying islands are the best locations for moongazing. Catching the full moon at one of these islands typically involve an overnight stay, as most ferries stop service after sunset, but what better way to take advantage of the consecutive public holidays than with an overnight camping trip?
Po Toi Island is a known favourite with adventurous astronomy enthusiasts. Far away from the city glare at the southernmost tip of Hong Kong, this secluded island is well-recognised for its unpolluted skies and remarkable geology. Spend the day exploring the rocky landscape and indulging in some local seafood, then when darkness settles, chill out, unwind, and marvel at the moon’s luminous beauty.
Sparsely populated and largely free of light pollution, the moon will appear bright and full no matter where you stand on the island, but the Nam Kok Tsui Lighthouse, which stands on an elevated headland overlooking the island, will guarantee the most phenomenal view of the moonlit heavens.
Just as the name hints, this small, remote island lying north of Sai Kung is a lush green escape from the city. It is a popular camping and picnic destination, but the open expanses of rolling grassland that slope towards the seashore just as well create a comfortable and serene setting for soaking in the full moon.
Adding to the pastoral feel of the environment are the large population of cows that inhabit the island. You may find yourself in the company of a few of them leisurely grazing on the green grass and feel as though you have been transported thousands of miles away from the buzzing city. Reached only by ferry, Grass Island is admittedly quite a way out for most of us urban dwellers, but its distance from any considerable sources of light is what makes for the clearest skies and the most optimal moongazing experience.
When it comes to an all-rounded experience of nature’s beautiful display, it doesn’t get much better than taking a stroll along a sandy beach under the rising moon. Situated on the south of Lantau Island, this stretch of coastline is one of the best spots for beachside moongazing. Tranquil and tucked away, there is minimal light pollution in the area so you can enjoy a front-row seat of the full moon in all its shining glory. Arrive at dusk and watch as the moon rises over the ocean, illuminating the quiet night skies and casting a trail of shimmering light onto the water’s surface.
This windswept corner of Shek O consists of rugged cliffs, rock-strewn shores, and strong seas that make for an ideal backdrop to admire the Mid-Autumn lunar spectacle. Getting into the stony area requires a bit of hiking, taking a little under an hour from the Cape D’Aguilar Road bus stop, but the walk is pleasant throughout. After reaching the coastline, you will be greeted with open-air panoramas of sky and sea that allow for unobstructed views of the hanging moon, as well as the gentle lull of lapping waves that goes perfectly with the scenery.
Part of the Clear Water Bay Country Park, Tai Au Mun is a great site for kite-flying, picnicking, hiking, and barbequing with family and friends. When night falls, the area becomes a hotspot for stargazers who come for a stellar view of glimmering stars dotting the night sky. But during Mid-Autumn, it’s the moon with its fully lit surface that grabs all the attention.
Tai Au Mun boasts dark skies and broad swaths of grassland that provide outstanding moongazing conditions for amateur observers and seasoned astrophotographers alike. No fancy equipment is needed, so just roll out your blanket, settle back, and bask in the glowing moonlight.
Besides the impressive two-kilometre dam that stretches across the Tolo Harbour in the northeastern part of New Territories, Tai Mei Tuk also caters to a whole host of outdoorsy activities including hiking, cycling, kite-flying, kayaking, and of course—gazing at cosmic wonders! The spacious areas near the Plover Cove Reservoir ideal for moon gazing. If you are up for a bit of exercise, we recommend heading there by bike, as the long, straight cycling path following the reservoir makes for a blissful ride. With pristine views of the full moon looking over the vast expanses of water on either side of the magnificent dam, it’s easy to see why this idyllic spot is so beloved among residents of New Territories.
Maybe you don’t want to stay out late with little ones or you just don’t want to make the trek—it’s not always viable to venture far out of the city for a celestial sighting. Fortunately, thanks to Hong Kong’s mountainous terrain, it’s possible to get an up-close view of the moon even within the confines of the city—you just have to find a nice elevated spot. We can think of no place better than the highest peak on Hong Kong Island, the famous Victoria Peak.
Despite its proximity to bustling Central, Victoria Peak Garden has some of the best vantage points for moongazing, given a clear night. The quaint garden setting has well-maintained grass lawns, tables and benches, and a nice pavilion that complement the moongazing experience. Not to mention, if you climb to the summit and look down, you can also drink in splendid views overlooking Hong Kong and Kowloon!
Once an airport runway, the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park has been now been transformed into a recreational space featuring a waterfront promenade and two grassy parks, so there is ample open space to go around for everyone. The Kai Tak Runway Park is located at the tip of the former runway, showcasing a massive flat grass field that offers sweeping views of Victoria Harbour, while the Rooftop Park atop the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Building presents a green lawn spanning across 23,000 square metres.
The thing about airport runways is that the nearby skies have to be clear of obstructions for aeroplanes to fly through. So although Kai Tak has undergone quite the development since the days when it housed a fully functioning airport, it remains one of the quieter pockets of Kowloon, making it a lovely oasis to observe the moon without having to brave the wilderness.