Vacationing at the “Cannes of the East”: Hainan, China

When scheduling your next holiday, perhaps allow the Far East temptations to lure you to the island of Hainan, China which offers pristine sandy beaches and clear blue waters similar to any Caribbean tropical peers.  Hainan nicknamed “China’s Hawaii” or “Eastern Hawaii” has made a huge commitment to developing into a luxury destination by captivating neighboring tourists from Asian counterparts, as well as Europe and North America.  This beautiful island attracts a number of elite and wealthy Asians who eventually purchase second homes as their “snowbird” destination.   Now Hainan’s growth is focused on developing luxury offerings, which includes an international cruise terminal, 5 individual yacht marinas, and additional 5-star hotels. 

Hainan is considered an island providence surrounded by coastal beaches, located in the most southern part of China, the second largest island (Taiwan is first).  Depending on your Trekkie desires, the island has four distinctive regions:  the capital city is Haikou, Sanya is the biggest tourist destination, the east coast is lined with a number of smaller cities and towns that offer unique cultural activities; and the east coast is a playground for outdoor adventures.


Two of Hainan’s largest airports handle both commercial and private jet arrivals and departures.  Haikou Meilan International Airport (HAK) is located on the North point of Hainan and Sanya International Airport (SYX) is situated on the Southern end of the island.  If your choice of transportation comes down to a taxi, plan for about 30 minutes to get to Hainan’s downtown.  Be mindful that only owners of a Chinese driver’s license are allowed to rent cars.  If a private car and driver is your preferred choice of transportation, Haikou International Airport’s site does recommend a list of private cars or limousines to secure reservations prior to arrival.   If viewing Hainan from Haikou to Sanya, by public rail appeals to you, the Hainan Ring High-Speed Railway encircles the entire island taking about 3 hours for the complete trip with speeds up to 125 miles per hour.  Be mindful of the requirement to carry your passport with you when riding this railway. 

Hainan’s successful efforts in increasing tourist dollars can be attributed to the introduction of their Visa Free and Visa on Arrival policies that lift restraints for visitors.  This program covers 59 countries (including the United States), permitting tourists to vacation in Hainan for 30 days.  The tourism bureau instructs those planning a visit to contact official travel agencies to register. More information on the visa process can be found on the Explore Hainan Tourism Website.


The constructing of international brand luxury hotels and resorts has increased dramatically in the past 10 years in Haitang Bay while construction continues to hum along to double that number within the next three years.  Sanya has its own manmade isle, appropriately named, Phoenix island, which is home to the Beauty Crown Grand-Tree Hotel.  The following are several other luxury accommodations that -offer upscale suites or ultra-luxury residences and villas with unparallel personalized service and on-property restaurants to match:

Rosewood Sanya

Atlantis Sanya   

Banyan Tree Sanya

Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay

The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay

The St. Regis Sanya, Yalong Bay

One other option that may satisfy your need for private accommodations within a luxurious residence is to rent anAirbnb, particularly from the many snowbirds who invest in amazing high-end properties as a second home.


Hainan doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the number of activities to keep you busy throughout your stay:  Golf at Hainan’s biggest golf resort created in partnership between the Mission Hills Group and The Rits-Carlton Hotel Group;  setting aside exploration time to visit the world’s tallest (354 feet tall) Guanyin Buddha statue in Nanshan Temple Park (6 years to build off the coastline of Sanya and is adorned with gold, diamonds and other gemstones}; a visit to the non-profit 911 Sea Turtles Conservation or the Nanwan Monkey Island; or learn more Buddhism at the Bo’ao Courtyard of Eastern Culture.  Besides enjoying the ocean views that hug every corner of the island, scheduling activities can be overwhelming, whether involving water sports or land activities (biking, hiking, walking tours of surrounding nature or cityscapes), Hainan aims to please!

Be prepared to enjoy Hainan cuisine which focuses on serving the freshest and finest island ingredient consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood.  A visitor must promise to delve into Hainan’s signature dishes:  Hele crab, Wenchange Chicken Jiaji Duck and Dongshan Mutton to name a few, whether dining in a 5-star restaurant or indulging in street food sold in city markets.

Since being located in a tropical zone, Hainan’s weather is warm all year round, although the best time to travel is November through April.  Note that typhoon season can occur in August and September.   Plan a visit to one of the island’s four major rainforests, home to 4600 wild plants and 660 wild animals.

With regard to safety, currently, the United States Department of State ranks China at a Travel Advisory Level 2 defined as “exercise extreme caution”.  According to the State Department, Chinese authorities have performed increasing broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using “exit bans”, sometimes imprisoning U.S. citizens for years. The State department’s website lists a number of actions for U.S. citizens to be as prepared as possible.  The State Department also warns political demonstrations may quickly turn violent and domestic unrest and terrorism can occur along with the unfortunate criminal scams, yet with over a million foreigners visiting a year with no fear, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to set foot on this lovely oasis. – AJ

Share your thoughts on Hainan, China in the comment section below or on Twitter!

Thank you to the following websites for source content:

Multimedia SCMP – 10 things you may not know about Hainan

Thrillist – Visiting Hainan: things to know

Explore Hainan

Hat Tip to the following Unsplash and Pixabay photographers:

Yung-pin Pao – Guanyin Statue –

756crystal – Goddess of Mercy Buddha Statue

Angelina shun – Hainun Beach view of

Anastasila Rozumna – Sanya Crown Hotels in center of Sanya City  unsplash

Denny Ryanto  – Pheonix Island  nighttime

Cytis – Passport

Pavel Roev – Sanya Shoreline


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