Picturesque Hainan Island has been dubbed China’s Hawaii thanks to pristine beaches, clear waters along the 1,500km coastline and virgin rainforests in the central highlands. This is the destination of choice for both Chinese and world travellers, with tourism growing in popularity. In fact the plan is to make Hainan Island a ‘world class resort’ by 2020, to rival Singapore.
The new tourist infrastructure includes building 60 luxury international hotels and establishing duty free shopping, as well as expanding the airport and infrastructure to cope with the demand.
Explore the bustling city of Sanya
The city of Sanya is famous for its tropical climate that attracts travellers to the laidback vibe. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the pool or beach there is plenty to see and do around Sanya, which is located at the far southern tip of the island. Visit the large Buddhist Guanyin Statue which stands on the end of the pier, chill out at serene Yalong Bay and take a day trip out to Wuzhizhou Island. Browse the shops and cafes around Yalongwan Central Square, try swimming and snorkelling at Wuzhizhou Coral Island and visit the best beach on the island; Tianya Haijiao. Cultural sights include the Nanshan Temple and the Mazu Temple of Sanya. There is also a butterfly sanctuary and an aquarium in Sanya.
Sanya is also an adventure sports hotspot with biking, watersports, biking and hiking on offer. And if you fancy something different, try a short course learning Mandarin during your stay!
Experience the National Parks of Haikou
Tourism continues apace in Haikou although the area also has breathtaking flora and fauna as well as the pristine aqua ocean water. It is the capital and the most populous city in the Hainan province. About half of the island’s trade passes though Haikou and it is home to Hainan University. The north section is separated by the main part by the Haidian River and people access the district by one of four bridges.
The National Parks of Haikou are a particular draw with travellers drawn to the dormant volcanic cluster within the Haikou Shishan Geological Park which is home to some 40 volcanoes and 30 lava-formed caves. For a true taste of Hawaii, wonder the half a million coconut palm trees on the Dongjiao Coconut Plantation which offers great seafood restaurants and an array of watersports. Explore the Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove and the Red Forest Nature Reserve where visitors come to see the incoming tide transform the area.
Soak up the culture in Wenchang
For an authentic cultural experience head to Wenchang on the northeast coast of Hainan and is home to the oldest structure on the island; Confucius Temple. Confucius Temple. The temple is carefully preserved and was first built in the 11th century with many additions and renovations since. For a stunning panoramic view of Wenchang, head up to Tonggu Ridge. Explore the ancient traditional Hainanese village of GuSongCun and visit the former space test center at the Satellite Launch Center.
Discover the great outdoors in Wanning
In the southeast of Hainan is Wanning, which is popular with surfers, beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. Try catching some surf at Shimei Bay, explore the Xinglong Tropical Botanical Garden and take a trip out to one of the sumptuous tropical islands such as Jiajing Island, Dazhou Island and Coconut Island.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches and resorts
Hainan Island boasts stunning beaches and well-equipped resorts throughout the various districts. Most resorts have blue green crystal clear waters, leafy coconut trees, water sports adventures in abundance, excellent quality seafood restaurants and music bars.
Sanya Bay Beach flows for 25km and features some excellent seafood restaurants, Dadong Hai beach is much more unspoilt and is generally quieter whist Yalong Bay is where the elite gather to play golf, shop, eat and stay at the 5 star resorts.
Try the activities and adventure sports on offer
There are plenty of activities and sports to choose from on Hainan Island. Golfing is becoming very popular with local tournaments held each year. Try surfing whilst here; the best waves are to be found in the southern region during the summer months. There is also an annual bike race and walking and trekking are popular through the national parks and inland forests. Other activities that are available are bird watching, rock climbing and snorkelling. There are several areas to shop for souvenirs and food including department stores, street vendors and boutiques.
Get back to nature on Hainan Island
The island of Hainan has approximately 1,400km of tropical forest with over 4,600 types of plants and over 570 species of animals. The domesticated animals on the island are goats, water buffalo, chickens and ducks. Common reptiles are frogs, toads, lizards and geckos. Bird watching is a fun activity here thanks to 362 bird species. Six animals are named after the island; the Gymnure, the Partridge, the Peacock-Pheasant, the Black Crested Gibbon, the Hare and the Leaf-Warbler. Hainan has an abundance of natural resources. Iron is the most important, but other significant minerals are titanium, copper, silver and manganese. Local farmers cultivate paddy rice and there is a variety of foods on the island including coconuts, tropical fruits, sugarcane and black pepper. Visitors and residents can relax and enjoy the healthy meals and the beauty of nature.
By Julie Bowman