Long a favoured destination for international hotels and resorts, Sanya is receiving a growing number of international cruise passengers.
Costa Cruises and Holland America call at the Sanya Phoenix International Cruise Terminal, bringing a variety of visitors to the city. Hong Kong-based Star Cruises does not visit Sanya.
Earlier this year, two Costa ships, Costa Classica and Costa Victoria, sailed to Sanya on nine and six occasions respectively.
The Costa Victoria offers shorter itineraries of seven days to accommodate Asian guests who do not have long holidays.
Within the region, the company is targeting the mainland, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong, according to a Costa Cruises spokesman.
'Our fleet offers facilities for guests of all ages and backgrounds. Onboard Costa Victoria, the fleet's largest ship yet to be deployed in Asia, guests will enjoy a diverse range of activities; whether it is sport or recreation, live entertainment, fine dining or spa facilities - we look to tailor onboard and offshore activities.'
For families, the company says it offers Asia's only 'kids-cruise-free' plan, where youngsters under 18, sharing a cabin with two full-paying adults, only need to pay port charges.
For visitors looking for something different, Holland America offers a more international flavour with its two ships, Amsterdam and Volendam, that typically travel between Singapore and Hong Kong.
According to Linda Yuen, of Holland America, the ships follow the English international guidelines and provide top international food and entertainment.
Yuen says the cruise ships' major markets are the United States and Australia, with some clients from Hong Kong.
'There are few Chinese clients because the ships are typically on a segment of 14 days or longer.'
So what is the pull of Sanya? While the lush vegetation and amiable year-round weather is perfect for cruising, the Sanya Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal, the main port of Hainan, has a reputation as an efficient operation.
'Sanya boasts well-developed, advanced tourism facilities with large berthing capacity, making it the ideal port for Costa sailings,' says the Costa Cruises spokesman. 'It continues to act as the main connection port for passengers looking to visit the south part of Asia.'
'I've been to Sanya once and their facilities are good and things are well-organised,' Yuen says. 'Passengers are free to explore as Holland America offers shore-excursion programmes including itineraries such as a mountain-top tour, a visit to the impressive Guanyin [goddess of Mercy] statue and tours to traditional village homes, which are of great interest to our international clientele.'