Taking as it does the graceful form of a butterfly, it’s little surprise that Wuzhizhou Island is a tropical delight jam-packed full of all manner of interesting flora and fauna. Once a site of holy worship and now a popular tourist destination, the island is roughly 20 miles east of Sanya on Hainan Island, at the southern tip of China.
Its tropical location means that Wuzhizhou enjoys a pleasant climate round the whole calendar year, while the cornucopia of natural beauty found on its shores make it an idyllic getaway for travellers looking to experience something a little bit different.
A scholarly and spiritual past
Originally, the site was known as Guqizhou Island and first appeared in the history books in 1893 when the Qing Dynasty ordered the construction of a temple upon the island in dedication to Cang Jie, the creator of the first Chinese characters. After the Qing Dynasty was overthrown at the beginning of the 20th century, local villagers on the island rededicated the temple to the Goddess Matsu, whom they believed would grant good fortune to fishermen on the island.
Check out Lover’s Bridge in 360 degrees!
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The second half of the 20th century saw the island adopt a more military role in Chinese governmental policy, as it was perceived to be a key strategic base for defence against marine forces. However, it was privately purchased in the 1990s by a businessman who recognised the great beauty and enormous tourism potential of the island, turning it into the popular resort which draws millions of visitors today.
Natural wonders galore
The terrain of Wuzhizhou Island is mountainous in parts, flat in others – but lush and verdant throughout. As a result, it hosts an abundance of different kinds of plant life, with an excess of 2,700 species believed to call the island home. Offshore, the crystalline waters of Haitang Bay surrounding the island are home to the best coral reef in China and a plethora of fish, crustaceans and other fascinating marine specimens.
In a bid to preserve the beauty of the reef surrounding the island, the vast majority of its waters fall under the domain of a marine ecology park. As such, it is prohibited to swim anywhere apart from a small dedicated snorkelling and diving zone, which predictably becomes very popular with tourists throughout the year. Therefore, those wishing to experience China’s answer to the Great Barrier Reef are advised to arrive on the island as early as possible (the first boat departing from Sanya leaves at 8am).
Unspoiled beauty meets all the mod cons
If you’re really serious about beating the crowds, you’d do well to spend a night on the island itself. There are a number of different hotels and boutique accommodation options across the island, all of which afford excellent views of the breath-taking scenery on show. Besides accommodation, the influx of tourism has also created demand for a wide variety of activities, including jet skiing, hang gliding, surfing, fly boarding and many more, as well as a full gymnasium, swimming pool and spa.
While such amenities are all well and good, Mother Nature is deservedly the star of the show on Wuzhizhou, and those looking for a more relaxed getaway might simply want to take a stroll on Lover’s Bridge or watch the sun dip beneath the waves at Sunset Rock. Meanwhile, Guanri Cliff is an optimum lookout spot to take in the splendour of the island and the pristine waters beyond. From this vantage point, it’s easy to see why Wuzhizhou is so popular with tourists the world over.
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