China can be a hectic country at the best of times, so whether you’re on an extended trip seeing the historical and natural sights of this highly influential nation, or living in the Middle Kingdom as a resident or expat worker, it’s important to take time out of your schedule to relax.
Fortunately, China is a massive nation, so while there are heavily populated and polluted cities located in a part of the country that experiences cool to cold winter weather, there are also parts of this country that are located firmly in the tropics, and are not nearly as densely populated.
One of these places is the island of Hainan, located in the South China Sea. It is the only part of the nation that is located within the tropics, and with the rise of the Chinese middle class, it is being developed as a place where these hard workers can go to unwind from the daily grind.
So, if you want to experience this place before it gets too overdeveloped, or if you were holding off your trip due to the perceived lack of facilities, begin packing your bags, as you are long overdue for a relaxing beach holiday in Hainan. Let’s talk about the specifics below…
The most heavily trafficked beach on Hainan is Sanya Beach, a 20 kilometre long beach on the south coast of the island. While the surf is not considered professional grade, it is consistent, making Sanya an excellent place to pick up surfing, a task made easier by the presence of schools and experienced instructors along the beach’s busiest stretch.
Also quite popular are watersports, as one can go jetskiing, paragliding and parasailing, and there are dive outfits that will take you out to several colourful reefs in the area. Those looking for a quieter place to relax and unwind should check out the northeast coast near Wenchang, where wild sea beaches devoid of development (for now) are just begging to be appreciated!
Once you are done checked out the deserted beaches in Wenchang, you won’t have to go far to experience one of the better cultural highlights of Hainan. Here, Gusong Village is an authentic traditional Hainanese coastal village, where you can watch the day’s catch be brought in, interact with locals in a genuine fashion, and coordinate with guides to explore the coast and the interior mountains. Go now before package tourists by the busload ruin the aesthetic!
Hainanese food as many people know it actually developed in Malaysia after a mass migration from this Chinese province set sail for that country several hundred years ago. Real Hainanese food includes Wenchang Chicken, boatloads of fresh tropical seafood that includes Hele crab and Wanquan river carp, as well as the very popular Jiaji duck.
Hainan: The Hawaii of China
For a tropical island province that contains 33,000 square kilometres of largely under-touristed area, it is remarkable that a place like Hainan has not been overrun by tourists, domestic or foreign. This is changing quickly however, so be sure to squeeze this paradise into your itinerary before it becomes the Chinese equivalent of Bali or Phuket!