China’s smallest province is also quickly becoming its main “summer beach holiday location”. The world doesn’t yet know too much about Hainan Island, but in a few years it will be packed with tourists. However it seems Russians know about it, as there were many knocking about and lots of signs also had Cyrillic (Russian writing).
We took a bus east to where it was said were the best beaches. Thousands of Chinese local tourists had had the same idea. It was not pleasant. At the main spot, every square metre of sand was occupied. It was like they had never been to the beach before. We squeezed through the masses for ages to find a more secluded spot.
The next day we looked closer, in walking distance. From our hostel’s vantage point on the hill, we could see a nice stretch surrounded by resorts. Once we arrived there, we confirmed what we had suspected. Multiple luxury beach resorts were lined up side by side in front of the whole stretch of beach, trying to force the loathed “private beach only” rule, by blocking all public access.
But that didn’t stop two determined Australians to get some much needed beach-time after many months in cold and snow in Nepal and China. We strolled down one of the resort driveways acting like we were staying there. Slipped past resort workers and blending in with other holidaymakers.
We made it to the sand, found our own spot and that was it. Mission accomplished.
Hainan Island was basically our mini-holiday within our massive holiday. We didn’t do anything else other than sit by the beach, eat and sip cocktails.
We stayed in Sanya, on the south side of the island. Several hours by bullet train from the island’s main city, Haikou, which we flew into from Guangzhou. The one lesson we learnt (especially due to Chinese New Year time), was to book train tickets very early in advance. Chinese locals are moving everywhere, mostly by train, so late tickets are risky. Although there were several trains running hourly or so, we should have bought our return tickets as soon as we had arrived in Sanya.
Instead, we arrived back at the Sanya Railway Station with long lines and no seats available for a few hours. We got the earliest one we could and sat extremely nervously as it arrived back in Haikou 30 minutes before our flight was due to depart. No Chinese has ever seen two Australians run so fast in sandals and heavy backpacks through the looooooong walkway connecting the train station with the airport.
The airport was crammed full and we stood in a long line of sweaty, impatient locals trying to check in. But the beach gods were smiling on us that day, as we heard the call advising our flight was delayed by an hour.
We had made it. Against all odds.
We love Hainan Island.
Visited 20th to 22nd January 2014.