Hainan, tropical paradise in the south of China

When someone says China, many images probably spring to mind: bustling mega cities, the Great Wall, maybe even terraced rice fields. Chances are that beautiful tropical beaches probably isn’t on the list…I mean if you want that, you go to somewhere like Thailand right?

Before I got to searching, China and amazing beaches was never really something I had considered either, but that’s not to say that China’s beaches are tourist free and unexplored either! Nestled in the south of China, in Hainan province is a stunning island full of gorgeous tropical beaches, blue sea, and palm trees. I think part of the problem is that so much of China is just not shown in the media. We have this idea that China is either crazy technological cities or mountainous countryside, and we never really stop to take into consideration just how huge the country is and how varied the landscape. I think another reason that we don’t really know about it, is that it’s comparatively hard to get a visa for China, compared to somewhere like Thailand, where UK residents get 30 days visa free. However upon arriving, the island is very well developed and quite touristy, it’s just that those tourists are domestic.

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Hainan is well known in China for having some of the best air quality in the country, and for being a beautiful, romantic getaway. My friends and I ended up booking a trip quite spontaneously because we had holiday and days off left to use up. After months spent in Beijing (Greyjing as it came to be known, pretty self-explanatory, I’m not exaggerating when I say everything was grey) what we needed was a good old bit of sun to brighten our moods. We didn’t really check the weather forecast and a few days before we noticed we discovered that the island was in the grips of a typhoon. Now we had been told that typhoons had hit Beijing before while we were there but all we had found was that it rained a bit heavier than usual, however, the typhoon hitting Hainan had already killed multiple people in other countries. We kept our fingers crossed, and by the time we got there, it had pretty much cleared. On the first day, it rained intermittently and very briefly, but we just ran for cover and it soon passed.

The first couple of days we just hung by our hotel, enjoying the fact it had a pool and was within walking distance of the beach. When it came to meal times we just ordered meituan (see previous blog posts), and got it delivered right to the poolside/hotel room. Once the novelty of this wore off we set to exploring.

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I had seen online that there was an amazing beach a decent drive from our hotel called Yalong bay. In the morning we got a Didi into the city centre to a supermarket to go and stock up on food for the day then headed out to the bay. When we arrived we were absolutely blown away. The skies were deep azure, the sands white, and the water inviting. It was the perfect amount of busy where you have your space but there’s not so few people that it feels uncomfortably empty. It also happened that we were a very short walk from a McDonalds for quick trips to the toilet/ice cream/cheeseburgers (I did sample the local cuisine I promise).

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We hung around for most of the day, taking it in turns to sunbathe and go for a dip in the water, broken up by short walks along the beach to take pictures further down. It was one of those places where you can’t really believe you are there, especially after seeing pictures and it looking so beautiful.

We hung around for the sunset then in the evening we wandered into the town area where there were shops and restaurants. We went for Thai because we hadn’t had that for ages. I had some lovely chicken satay and a pineapple with sweet and sour chicken. In general, the sunsets in China were pretty awful. I feel like back at home I’m really spoilt by beautiful sunsets and skies shot with pink, oranges and baby blue, but in Beijing it was all just grey. It was such a welcome break to lie on a beach and watch the sky turn pretty colours.

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