Coastal attractions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2012, 12:00am


Sanya has come a long way from the relaxing beachside town it was just a few years ago. In keeping with fast-paced development, the list of things to do while in Sanya is also quickly expanding. Chinese and foreign tourists are not always satisfied sitting around digging their bare feet into the sand. Sometimes they want to get out there and do something, and Sanya is beginning to accommodate.

Water sports for families and children are starting to get going in Sanya. There are water skis and jet skis available for rent, boats for deep sea fishing and viewing, and plans for a vast water park on the coast and extending out to Wuzhizhou Island.

Some of the area's biggest draws right now are snorkelling and scuba diving. There are locations all over the southern half of Hainan Island, including around Yalong Bay, Baifu Bay and the Wuzhizhou Coral Island. Hotels and travel agencies provide tours, but if you have the training, you can also buy your gear in Sanya, or bring your own, and trek up past Haitang Bay to the undeveloped areas of the island - where the surfers play - and find your own spot.

Speaking of surfing, the ocean's favourite sport has really taken off in Hainan and around Sanya. Two long-time Hainan surfers, Brendan Sheridan and Dahai Zhang, anchor the scene. Both run surf shops that rent gear, offer tours and training, and provide a focal point for the sport - Sheridan runs Surfing Hainan and Dahai runs China Surf Sanya. Annual events such as the Surfing Hainan Open help to solidify the scene and give it a measure of exposure, but surfing in Hainan still belongs to a small, tight-knit tribe of regulars, locals and expatriates who want to enjoy Hainan's perfect climate without paying the high prices.

The leisure-boat industry is growing in tandem with the more low-key surfing scene and bringing a new crowd to Sanya's shores.

Another nod to the largest demographic taking holidays in Sanya - affluent Chinese - are the golf courses springing up around the island. There are 11 courses right now, most centred around Sanya, and they offer spectacular ocean views, rainforest-golf, and sea breeze influenced shots.

The growth of water sports and activities is driven by demographics. Middle-class families want fun, safe, exciting rides for the children to enjoy and the affluent class desires activities that enhance prestige, provide an outlet for wealth, and help to remove the stress of doing business in the fastest-growing economy in the world.