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If you’re looking for a beach break away from mainland China, the picturesque town of Sanya on the southern tip of Hainan Island is the connoisseur’s choice. Indeed, the town’s premier attraction is its sparkling shoreline, with crystalline waters perfect for scuba or snorkel enthusiasts and golden sands ideal for laying back and soaking up the year-round sunshine.

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But with over 12 miles of coastline to choose from, it can be a little difficult knowing where to begin! What’s more, each beach is different to its brethren, with some offering a more boisterous and crowded experience than other, more secluded options. This handy list gives a rundown of the hotspots around town, whether you’re an underwater flora and fauna aficionado or an old-fashioned beach bum.

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Yalong Bay for beauty

We’ve all heard of its more famous homonym Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, but Yalong Bay boasts perhaps the most beautiful coastline in all of China. The sand is irresistibly soft and the waters unbelievably clear, making it a hugely popular destination year round. As a result, a multitude of high-rise hotels and boutique accommodation options have sprung up all along the shore, meaning that to avoid the crowds you’ll be best advised staying inside the particular stretch of sand allotted to your hotel.

Dadonghai Bay for convenience

Dadonghai Bay is the oldest developed beach resort in Sanya and also the closest to the town centre, making it extremely convenient for visitors. Indeed, it only costs a single RMB to reach by public bus and though it’s perhaps not quite as picturesque or well-maintained as Yalong, it’s a close second. What’s more, there are plenty of stands and beach bars selling all manner of refreshments to keep you sufficiently fed and watered during your time here.

Wuzhizhou Island for diving

Off the eastern coast of Sanya sits Wuzhizhou Island, the first premier diving resort in China. On the island itself the “Plant World” showcases some truly astonishing examples of vegetation not to be seen many other places worldwide, while “Underwater World” is a gateway into the subaquatic marvels of Haitang Bay. Though the diving here is phenomenal, that’s a well-known fact – so expect lengthy queues if you wish to plumb the depths.

Tianya Haijiao for romance

Literally translated as “the edges of heaven, the corners of the sea”, Tianya Haijiao enjoys a hallowed place in Chinese literature. It’s said that couples who come here would go to the ends of the world for their love, and the impressive rocks which loom up out of the sand (or the water, at high tide) are inscribed with Chinese characters.

Perfume Bay for seclusion

At two hours’ drive from Sanya itself, Perfume Bay can be a bit of a struggle to reach. However, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and hoi polloi of the other beaches, it’s well worth the effort. After taking a bus from the central station, simply walk 100m down the wooden walkway to a pristine stretch of sand that you’re likely to have all to yourself. Be warned: there are no amenities here, so bring a packed lunch and plenty of liquids, and take care with the powerful riptides.Visit Sanya

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