Coastal attractions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 12:00am


Although it is well planned and has retained historically interesting architecture, perhaps another reason that Dalian has repeatedly been voted the most liveable city in China are its fringe of striking landscapes that cry out to be explored under often blue skies.

Visitors need not go far to reach its coastline - the city is surrounded by it on every side except its west. From central Zhongshan Square strewn with buildings from the early 20th century, the Yellow Sea is minutes away by foot to its north.

For a more natural slice of coast, head south to a handful of striking rocky bays and beaches along the southern Bohai Sea stretch of the Liaodong Peninsula, under an hour away from the city centre by road.

The most beautiful areas are Tiger Beach and Bangchui Island Scenic Area.

These are small pebble and shale shores with jagged cliffs and outcrops that become deep orange at sundown.

The one opposite Bangchui Island is probably the most attractive, and speedboats wait for anyone interested in taking a ride over to see its unique turtle-shaped rock formations.

Fujiazhuang Beach, closer to the city, can get crowded along its 550-metre stretch of golden sand. And the same is true at Xinghai Beach, China's largest man-made public sandy stretch.

If visiting in the warm season, local residents and visitors will likely be swimming and jet-skiing at any of these beaches.

A more tranquil getaway, Golden Pebble Beach National Geopark offers a landscape that is far more impressive than any photograph or description can convey. However, as a rough guide, striking rock formations, some almost like chiselled abstract sculpture, pop up along the coast and a little inland. Pathways, steps and rock pools have been landscaped at the Golden Rock Garden, allowing a stroll around some outlandish natural forms.

Along the southern coast's Binhai Road is a wooden-decked path, often following the road, and sometimes taking its own course, stretching nearly 30km, taking in all the well-known beaches.

Grabbing a map and choosing a 5 to 6km section makes a comfortable scenic hike.

Talking of outdoor activities, a trot around the paddocks or a riding lesson can be had at Dalian Mounted Policewomen's Training Base, which is within the city limits. These glamorous city ambassadors also perform there twice a day.

Lushun, a fishing harbour on the very southern tip of the peninsula, is green and low-rise.

A restricted area until a couple of years ago, it was formerly named Port Arthur during a short period of British rule in the Second Opium War era in the 19th century. It is home to the Russian-Japanese Prison, built in the early 20th century during periods of consecutive Russian and Japanese occupation.

Other colonial-era buildings dot the landscape and short speedboat trips can be made out into the harbour past shellfish farms to view the well-protected old harbour, which is still considered to be the strategic gateway to China from northeast Asia.