Where it's at
Hainan Dao lies in the South China Sea, separated from the
Chinese mainland by the Hainan Strait. It is the second largest
island off the coast of China after Taiwan. A monsoon, tropical,
climate favors the cultivation of rice, coconuts, palm oil,
tropical fruit, coffee, tea, and sugarcane. Hainan Dao is
also noted for its rich offshore fishing grounds which yields
shrimps, scallops, tuna, and Spanish mackerel. Pearls are
harvested in the shallow bays surrounding the island.
Beautiful beaches and clean air make Hainan Dao a popular
tourist destination. The island is accessible through ferry
links with Guangdong Province and there are two airports,
Meilan Aiport in Haikou and Sanya City.
The island used to be a place of exile known as the 'gates
of hell'. Nowadays it's a tropical paradise and playground
for the Chinese wealthy whose game of choice is golf. As China's
economy continues to expand, more and more ordinary Chinese
are finding themselves with a disposable income, making golf
one of the fastest growing sports in China.
If what you're really looking for is relaxation on the beach
then Hainan Dao shouldn't disappoint. On the east coast is
Yalong Bay. It's the best sea beach in China and some
say it's better than Hawai'i. The beach is 20 kilometers long
with fine, white sand, clear blue water, and a visibility
of 7- to 9-meters in water with a bath-like, 30C, which makes
for fantastic swimming and diving.
Activities around Sanya
The city of Sanya, on the east coast, has one of the
most beautiful and well-maintained beaches in Southern Asia
on its doorstep. Sanya has lots to offer the tourist: 'End
of the Earth' - a famous scenic beauty spot, Butterfly
Valley near Langton Lakes showcases some of China's
rarest butterflies, and Gan Shi Ling Tropical Forest
is great for hiking. Luobi Cave in Lizhigou Town,
about five kilometers northwest of Sanya City, is shrouded
in mystery and legend. The rock formation is located in the
Liang Keng Slope of Litchi Furrow at an elevation
of 110 meters and has archaeological significance.
Meet the Li People
The West coast of the island is quite different - rugged,
wilder, and less touristy. It would have been off the beaten
track a few years ago, but the Western Expressway has
made the interior of the island accessible. The Li ethnic
group makes their home to the west of the island and within
the mountains of the interior. They are thought by some to
be related to the Polynesians; their Bamboo pole dance
is a tradition you could imagine taking place in the South
Pacific. Their houses, which look like overturned boats, are
designed to withstand the storms that hit the tropical island.
The roofs are supported with tree trunks and the walls are
made of knotted bamboo strips coated with mud.
The Li people have the earliest weaving technology in Chinese
history. Li women are skilled in spinning and weaving and
are especially adept at weaving silk cotton. The brocade they
make has a long reputation for its exquisite workmanship.
Like other people in Hainan Dao, chewing betel
nut is very popular among the Li, but the local culinary
speciality is rat!