Visitors looking for a tropical island with a difference need look no further than Hainan Island. Whilst the island is situated on the southern coast of China and shares the same temperature and latitude of Hawaii, what makes Hainan Island different from the majority of beach resorts is that visitors also have the opportunity to satisfy their cultural side too, with local minority tribes to interact with and beautiful mountainous scenery to behold. Hainan’s claim to fame is that a famous rock on one of the southern beaches features on the two-yuan note.
Although Haikou is the capital of Hainan Island, its unofficial title is the “Coconut City”, giving the visitor an indication of the ambience of this tropical city. One of the highlights of Haikou is the massive fort at Xiuyang. Built in the 19th century to repel the French, it is surrounded by thick stone walls and protected by numerous cannons and concealed subterranean passages.
Haikou People’s Park
It is an upland garden with 4000 kinds of tropical and subtropical plants as well as mini zoos, orchid gardens and leisure facilities. It is also a patriotism education base in Hainan with the People’s Hero Monument and the Sculpture of General Feng Baiju.
This is arguably the best place in all of China to see sailing junks, which have sadly disappeared form most other parts of the country; shipyards here welcome visitors interested in traditional boat-building methods.
Five Officials Memorial Temple
An attractive temple dedicated to five officials who were banished to Hainan in earlier times.
Tomb of Hairui
The Tomb of Hairui was ravaged during the Cultural Revolution but restored in vibrant colour.
Jianfengling Nature Reserve
Located near the Northern City of Haikou, Jianfengling Nature Reserve is a tropical forest which houses a large number of tropical plants and animals.
The pristine and palm fringed beaches of Sanya are undoubtedly the main attraction of Hainan Island. However, the area surrounding Tonghsi in the central mountainous region is well worth exploring on a day tour for its stunning scenery and ethnic culture, e.g. the traditional Li houses, the 300 metre Baihua Shan waterfalls and the 2000 metre Wuzhi Shan mountain.
Outdoor seafood restaurants either side of the local night market are a great place to immerse yourself in the full Chinese experience. The seafood is excellent and while you’re waiting for the meal you can wander off to shop.
Located just 3 km southeast from Sanya city, Dadonghai is a small-but-bustling beach resort with such unexpected amenities as western-style cocktail bars with blues music on the sound system.
Yalong Bay is located to the east of Sanya and features 7km of sand. This tranquil beach resort is where you’d go to get away from everything, including organised tourist attractions. What you’ll find here instead is a stunningly beautiful and remarkably uncrowded beach, a small village – and peace and quiet.
Nanshan Temple is 40 kilometres from Sanya in the South of Hainan Island. The temple is part of one of the largest Buddhist sites in China. The Temple offers an insight into various periods of Chinese history from as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Ximao Zhou Island
Just over the water from Sanya’s golden beaches is Ximao Zhou Island. Ideal for snorkeling and diving.
This neatly-kept town is a fishing port as well as a resort, so restaurants here have their daily pick of the ocean’s freshest bounty, and serve some of the best seafood on the island. Luhuitou beaches are poor but uncrowded.
Located on Hainan’s east coast, this area has been famous for centuries for its natural mineral springs and Tropical Botanical Garden.
Monkey Island was opened as a Nature reserve in 1965 as a haven for over 2000 Monkeys.
Tongzha (Wuzhi Shan)
Wuzhi Shan Mountain or Five Finger mountain is in the central region of Hainan Island. This area offers beautiful natural scenery and is home to the Miao people. If you are adventurous enjoy a ride through the Canyons at the foot of the Mountain.