China's own slice of paradise

The cable car ride between Nanwen Monkey Island and Hainan Island gives an amazing view of the floating fishing villages.
The cable car ride between Nanwen Monkey Island and Hainan Island gives an amazing view of the floating fishing villages. Detours

PANDAS, terracotta warriors and the Great Wall – everyone asks about the same three things when I tell them I've been to China.

But unfortunately, I didn't see any of these during my week-long stay – unless you count pandas of the plush toy variety at the airport's duty-free store.

What I did discover, however, were sandy white beaches, lush rainforests, ocean-view resorts, mountain retreats, succulent seafood and macaque monkeys roaming free.

Few people outside China are aware of the nation's slice of paradise resting on the edge of the South China Sea.

Here lies the tropical province of Hainan, which incorporates about 200 small islands.

However, the name Hainan usually refers to just the main Hainan Island, which has an area of 33,920 square kilometres – about half the size of Tasmania.

The island's main drawcard is its southern area, which incorporates Sanya city, nearby Yalong Bay and surrounding areas.

Still quite new as a holiday destination, particularly for international tourists, much of Sanya and Yalong Bay remains in a state of construction.

Everywhere we looked, we saw yet another hotel being erected or another complex awaiting its finishing touches.

But after experiencing several of the completed resorts, it seemed the final result was worth the wait.

Yalong Bay's luxurious resorts offered multiple restaurants, bars and pools, as well as day spas, kids' clubs and water activities.

Plus each of Yalong Bay's resorts had its own private beach, with none open to the general public.

This means those seeking a relaxing beach holiday can find what they're after without ever needing to leave their resort.

But for those like me who struggle to stay in one place for too long and want to see more of the surrounding sights, there is plenty to do outside.

Many of the attractions we visited showcased Hainan's natural beauty, from the sparkling blue oceans and marine life surrounding Wuzhizhou Island through to the lush green canopies of the Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone.

The writer was a guest of the Hainan Tourism Commission

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