Sanya City, located on the southernmost part of Hainan Island in southeast China, is popularly dubbed as China’s Hawaii or Hawaii of the East. No surprise there as this remote city is blessed with a 20-kilometer long stretch of white sand beaches, wide clear waters, and seemingly endless and cloudless blue skies. An emerging tourist destination, Sanya is the original home of the Utsul indigenous peoples and today has a population of 685,408 coming from all over China, as well as foreign residents. Due to the city’s isolation from China’s more modern and accessible cities, Sanya is often poetically called ‘the end of the sky and ocean’ or even ‘the end of the earth’. This geophysical location often served useful for exiled officials who had come into conflict with the country’s powerful leaders. These days, there is a large influx of Russian tourists that it is now also playfully dubbed as ‘Moscow on the South China Sea’. It is also just a 90-minute flight from Hong Kong so the city also gets a large crowd coming in from the Fragrant Harbor. Apart from its beaches, tourists can also explore its rainforests and other hiking trails.
1. An Abundance of Gorgeous BeachesWith 20 kilometers of beautiful beaches and a tropical climate, Sanya is a certified beach lovers’ paradise. Here, tourists have numerous choices for outdoor activities, primarily water sports that range from snorkeling and scuba diving, jet-skiing and surfing, or swimming and just simply lazing around getting that to-die-for tan. While some beaches closer to the city center can be crowded and busy, there are other beaches farther away that promise unspoiled yet stunning scenery. Some beaches are preferred by locals while some are teeming with foreign tourists. The popular public beaches have restaurants, hostels and international hotels lining up the beach front. Other beaches are being developed as a high-end, luxury destination with marinas and world-class golf courses as added features.
2. Sunshine CityOne of the best things about Sanya is that it is a sun-kissed destination practically all year round, with average temperatures of 25 degrees celsius in January and a pleasant summertime temperature of 30 degrees celsius. Thus, there is technically no peak season as tourists come every season. This sunshine-filled city has attracted tourists from cold Siberia and other parts of Russia, as well as Chinese tourists from northern China to get away from colder climes. If they are not lounging around and soaking up all that sunlight, they are having fun trying out all the water sports available practically everywhere there is a beach. Or, for the business and leisurely sports types, a day spent at the golf course is pure bliss. Whether one is a beginner or a pro, the gold courses are a favorite pastime that even hotels are offering special packages offering golf on different courses.
3. A Plethora of Outdoor PursuitsThose who want to get out of the water and explore the city have numerous choices in terms of recreation. There are lots of hiking opportunities around, or long walks at least as the city pretty much has a flat terrain. But serious hikers can always hop on a bus towards the mountains 90 minutes drive away from the city proper. Or they can opt for a nice rainforest trek, which is becoming popular for the city’s tourism department has created well-organized tours of the rainforest. Early risers need not fret as they can go have sunrise watching activity on a cliff on the southeastern part of the island, with a bird’s eye view of the South China Sea as bonus. And, of course, there is always the open air night markets where food and entertainment come in handy. Visitors can choose from a variety of barbecue stands, noodle stalls, or other snacks, chugging cold beer, and watching street musicians do their thing.
Sanya Tourist Spots
1. DaDonghai: Beach ParadiseDaDonghai, located about 3 kilometers from the Sanya downtown proper, is considered to be one of the the city’s most pristine beaches, with crystal clear waters and 3 kilometers of crescent-shaped, white sand beach dotted with palm trees. This is also often referred to as ‘the main foreigner area’ as it is a favorite destination of Russian tourists, evident in the mainly signs and markers in Russian language. Easily accessible, too, are the many hotels and hostels in the area, offering a variety of choices for all types of travelers, from the high-end ones to the backpacker types. Visitors may want to explore a coastal park located around 300 meters to the east where a pavilion perched atop a small hill offer a magnificent view of the ocean. On weekends, beach parties happen at the middle part of the beach. It’s not easy to miss what with loud music, foreign tourists, lots of dancing and fire torches performances entertain all throughout the night.
2. Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone: Satisfying the Taste for AdventureThe Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone is a welcome change from the sun, sand, and sea where visitors will get to experience the local indigenous group’s warm hospitality. ‘Yanoda’ literally means ‘one, two, three’, as well as ‘hello’ in the local dialect. Located some 35 kilometers from Sanya city proper, this tourism zone has a variety of attractions, including a 40-minute trek past millennia-year-old trees up towards a lush forest valley. Some can try a rope river crossing and other more adventurous paths. Upon reaching the destination, one will be greeted with a lake with lotuses, colorful blooms, and a small cafe where one can have some healthy ‘herbal buffets’. Other attractions include the waterfall-filled Dream Valley, the challenging Stream Trekking, and the verdant Rainforest Valley. Camping is allowed, with evening barbecues and folk performances are offered, as well as a 680-meter long zipline adventure.
3. Binglanggu-Hainan Li & Miao Cultural Heritage Park: A Family-Friendly Day TripThe Binglanggu-Hainan Li & Miao Cultural Heritage Park is located inland of Sanya on a reconstructed hillside village where Binglanggu Park is also found, and where the Li and Miao indigenous peoples’ heritage are shared with and showcased to visitors interested in knowing more about their traditions and lifestyle. The Li and Miao ethnic minorities were Hainan Island’s earliest settlers some 2,000 years ago. The Heritage Park showcases the indigenous groups’ boat-shaped huts and vibrant woven textiles made from tree barks, and their fine silver jewelry and adornments. Guests are warmly welcomed with the community’s famous dragonfruit juice, as they are given a showcase of traditional dances, nose flute performances, and other demonstration of their distinctive culture.