What do you think of when you think of China? Whether it’s communism or the Great Wall or industrialism, chances are the first thing to leap to your mind isn’t white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and sipping cocktails on the beach, right?
But Sanya, Hainan – offers all of the pleasures of a Hawaiian resort without the massive price tag.
Colour me pleasantly surprised.
Asia, and South East Asia in particular, are not short of beautiful beaches to investigate. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that a nation as large as China possesses its own little slice of paradise.
It’s Monday and it’s rainy here in Sydney, so here’s a place you’d rather be: Hainan, China.
What makes Hainan appealing is that it’s an affordable alternative to Fiji, Bali, and the Philippines. From South Korea, where I was based at the time, it was a short two hour flight to get to the kind of place that you can’t find anywhere on the Korean peninsula.
Resorts are affordable and there are plenty of options as far as food goes ranging from local cuisine to Western food. The beaches need to be experienced to be believed – but the warm water and hot sun will keep you out right up until the sun goes down. Cocktails and food served right on the beach make it even easier to stay out all day long.
Snorkeling, scuba, parasailing, kayaking, and jet ski hire also leave from the beach, and most resorts have a pool if you need a break from the sand.
Hainan isn’t just resorts, although it’s easy to stay beachside and never see the rest of the island. It’s an agricultural island with lots of heritage to investigate. Tea ceremonies, village visits, and museums offer some insight into an island that was considered a prison until very recently.
A visit to Monkey Island, aptly named due to its large population of ‘tame’ monkeys, is a must. There’s also some wonderful tours of the government run pearl facilities (with bargain prices on pearls), plenty of cute night markets, and a fantastic hot springs complex not far from the city of Sanya.
Monday sucks. Maybe it’s time to start daydreaming about spending one of them on China’s own tropical island paradise?