Hainan, Hawaii of China

Picture white, sandy beaches, a bright blue sky and a gentle breeze. Coconuts drop at your feet from trees as the sand warms your feet while strolling along. No, you’re not in Hawaii. You’re in Hainan, the smallest province in China.

But, by Chinese standards, small has a slightly different meaning. Hainan covers over 35,000 square km and is home to over 7 million Chinese. At the southern end of the country, its natural beauty has long attracted visitors and fellow countrymen alike.

There are dozens of places to go and things to do in Hainan. Or, you can do nothing at all.

You can lounge on one of the many beautiful beaches in Sanya such as Tianya Haijia or Dadonghai. Take a walk around and enjoy some of the great seafood. You might visit one of the many shops. Shell carvings in many coastal towns around the world are just tourist trinkets. In Sanya, they’re fine art.

Yalong Bay, east of Sanya, is one of the most popular beaches in the area. Covered with students during the height of the season, you can people watch or enjoy one of the longest stretches of beach sand in the world.

North of Sanya, you can visit the highlands. Cooler than some of the other areas during the summer, it provides ample opportunity for hiking. The local scenery is especially lush here.

Take a ferry trip to the capital of Haikou and see the Hairui Tomb, built for a famed officer of the Ming Dynasty. Or visit the popular Wugong Temple not far away.

Be sure to allow time to see Monkey Island. Here there are thousands of Macaque monkeys chattering away as you thread along the area. Only a ten minute ferry ride from Xincun, it’s best seen in March or April, during mating season. You can enjoy yourself by purchasing a bag of peanuts and see whether they’re easy to distract or not.

Xincun itself is a delightful little fishing village where you can enjoy a quiet stroll or interact with the friendly locals. Take some time to wander around and soak in the natural beauty of the land and its inhabitants.

You can visit the Li or Miao Villages, only two among the many that are home to the one million individuals who comprise the ethnic minority in Hainan. You’ll be served some of the finest food available anywhere outside Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Come find out what so many already know: that anyone visiting China should have Hainan on the itinerary.

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