Nowadays, it seems as if there is a Chinese equivalent to every American thing—Baidu for Google, Taobao for ebay, WeChat for Facebook, and Alibaba for Amazon. Like these Chinese companies that are quickly beginning to rival their American counterparts, there is a tropical island paradise iin China that some say is more beautiful than Hawaii.
Located 14 miles (22.53 km) off the coast of Guangdong’s Leizhou Peninsula, Hainan is a small province in China—the size of Belgium—consisting of multiple islands. The most popular tourist destination is its largest island, Hainan Island. The island contains picturesque beaches, amazing seafood cuisine, luxurious hotels, and everything else you can ask for from an island resort.
And the best part is, you don’t need a visa to travel there! Passport holders of 59 countries—including the United States and Canada—are entitled to a 30-day visit to the entire province of Hainan, making it an obvious choice as your next vacation destination.
To help you choose what to do during your stay, here are some must-do tourist attractions and activities!
1 Everything with Water!
Holiday Beach, located on the coastline of Haikou, Hainan’s capital, is one of the largest beaches on the island. You can do all sorts of extreme aquatic activities like parasailing, jet-skiing, and kite-surfing.
At the southern tip of the island in the city of Sanya, there are other popular beaches such as Dadonghai, Sanya Bay, and Yalong Bay. These places are more for relaxing on the white, sandy beaches as you slurp from a coconut—a fruit so endemic to the island that it is nicknamed the “Coconut City.”
This end of the island regularly attracts surfers worldwide, with waves reaching as high as 16 feet (4.88 m)! The crystal clear water also allows for a breathtaking snorkeling experience with over 1,500 species of tropical fish and coral in the surrounding ocean.
2 World’s Only Protected Monkey Resort!
In Sanya, there is the famous state-protected Nanwan Monkey Island. This small island contains over 2,000 macaque monkeys that you are allowed to feed, take pictures of, and get up and close with! This destination is perfect for both the nature-lover and the Instagram influencer. To reach the island, you can take a cable car that goes over 2 km of the sea—a scary but otherwise thrilling experience!
3 Try Hainan’s Delicious Cuisine!
As the Hainan province is composed entirely of islands, it is no surprise that some of China’s best seafood comes from the area. Local fishermen sell fresh seafood such as shrimp, mollusks, clams, and fish that they stir-fry or barbecue on bamboo skewers.
If you are not into seafood, Hainanese cuisine has some amazing traditional dishes such as Jiaji Duck, Dongshan Goat, Hele Crab and most famously, Wenchang Chicken. You probably have never heard of Wenchang Chicken, but you almost certainly have heard of the world-famous dish it inspired: Hainanese Chicken Rice. It was originally invented by Hainan immigrants who moved to Southeast Asia in 1920 to cure homesickness. It is no wonder why it is one of the most comforting dishes today that connects ethnic Chinese from all around the world!
For a more fast and lively experience, you can also try some of the island’s delicious street food. Qilou Snack Street is the most famous snack street in all of Haikou, with exotic delicacies such as fried silkworm or more tame dishes like Hainan fen—a bowl of noodles popular among locals.
4 Otherworldly Spiritual Sites!
The world’s largest Guanyin statue—The Buddhist Guanyin of Nanshan—towers over 108 meters (354 feet) on the southern coast of Hainan. To put that in perspective, it is 15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty! This Guanyin took over six years to finish—it was finally completed in 2006—and it is covered with precious gemstones such as gold and diamond. Various Buddhist groups from across the world regularly travel to this important site, and you should too!
5 Explore the Natural Landscape!
The Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Park has a cluster of over 40 extinct volcanoes! Dark, lush greenery engulfs this park of over 1,200 square feet, and it would take an entire lifetime to discover all the secrets this molten landscape offers.
If volcanos aren’t your thing, you can always head up to the gorgeous Yanoda Rainforest! This nature reserve offers all sorts of activities to keep you entertained, such as hiking up waterfalls, swinging across suspension bridges, or flying through the trees on ziplines!
6 Water Parks, Hotels, and Resorts!
The Chinese government is trying to transform Hainan into one of the world’s best tourist destinations, so it is no wonder the province is filled with huge water parks, luxurious hotels, and expensive resorts.
In Haikou, there is the Wet ‘n Wild Water Park, a million-square-foot theme park that has thrilling water slides, swimming pools, and even a wave machine for the more adventurous.
Mission Hills Haikou is the largest mineral springs resort verified by the Guinness World Records, and the spa includes over 90 treatment centers, beauty and wellness facilities, 168 spring water features, and even a water park!
Accompanying the resort is Hainan’s largest golf course—a 10-course golf course constructed in partnership with the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group. Plenty other 5-star hotels are located on the island such as The Renaissance and Shangri-La which offer quality service and stunning ocean views.
Hainan province is the place to be if you want to relax, slow down, and enjoy life. It is no wonder why the province was named by the International Expert Committee on Aging in 2014 as a World Longevity Island—a classification granted to places with numerous older citizens. In Hainan, over 280,00 residents are older than the age of 80 from a report by Xinhua! The stress-free and leisurely island lifestyle—accompanied by the clear air and water—makes it a wonderful destination for anyone trying to escape the stresses of everyday life.