‘Where are the best beaches in China?’ is not a question you would ask.
However, China is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, despite its controversial political system, population size and economic status. Millions of people visit every year, but most of China’s tourists seek out its culture and the history. But there are hidden destinations in the country that few tourists are aware of: its beaches.
From Yalongwan Beach to Qingdao, China’s beaches are definitely worth a visit. Right now you are probably in denial, because when you hear the word ‘China’, beaches are the last thing you think of. And even if you see a picture of a Chinese beach, finding any blue in there is harder than playing Where’s Wally. Hopefully when you have finished this article you will find that China has more to offer than Terracotta armies and cat meat for lunch.
So now I hear you ask: which are the best beaches in China to visit?
While public beaches in China are, not surprisingly, pretty crowded, many are more secluded and have pristine waters, perfect for diving and extreme sports. My mission here is to inform you about these hidden wonders, starting with Yalongwan Beach.
Yalongwan Beach, aka Asian Dragon Bay
Asian Dragon Bay offers visitors sweeping views, white sands and clear waters. With average temperatures of 25˚C (77˚F), the beach is open all year around and is definitely one of the best beaches in China. It is just 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from Hainan province, Sanya City. Some of the draw cards for this bay are the background hills and diving sites. The sea is so clear in parts that you can easily see 10 meters underwater. Visitors can expect to see a lot of colorful sea creatures ranging from tropical fish to coral of all colors around the reef of the beach.
Or you can visit Center Square which houses an historic and intricately engraved 26.8 meter-long totem pole. If this doesn’t appeal, you can always visit the Shell Exhibition Hall, which has over 300 species of shell on show (yes, there are more than 300 shellfish species apparently), or Butterfly Valley which displays various species of butterflies most of which are indigenous to China.
Asia Dragon Bay can be reached by a regular bus from Sanya or a double-decker tourist bus from Tian Ya Hai Jiao, which does a circuit of Yalong Bay, Da Dong Hai, Sanya Bay and Xi Dao.
Maldives of China, Wuzhizhou Island
Wuzhizhou Island, also called Oriental Hawaii, is located 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Sanya City. Transport to the island is mainly via ferries which carry 70 people at a time. The climate here makes it a year-round tourist and leisure attraction, however you may still want to bring a long-sleeved shirt as it can cool down in the mornings and evenings.
The island is home to more than 2,000 species of plants including lots of rare trees and unique botanic ecosystems. The highest point on the island is only 80 meters. The soft white sand and crystal clear water reveals an underwater world with every color of fish imaginable. It is a perfect spot for scuba-diving, and equipment can be rented almost anywhere on the island. For tourists who prefer more extreme sports, there are also facilities available for surfing, gliding and sailing.
The restaurants and bars on the island offer every kind of seafood and tropical fruit imaginable as well as Chinese (duh!) eateries.
The Clooney of Beaches, Beihai Silver Beach
This beach is just a couple kilometers south of city of Beihai, which makes getting there as easy as. A taxi takes only 15 minutes but you can always hop on a bus.
The reason I call it the ‘Clooney’ of beaches is because of its silver color. The fine, pure sands are high quality quartz which, in the sunlight, turn a wonderful shade of grey (no, not Christian Grey, ladies!). This beach is so romantic any bachelor can become ‘the one’ thanks to its magic.
Beihai Silver Beach is also a fantastic place for water sports, leisure activities and health promotion thanks to its extremely clean air. After a good day of sightseeing, meditating and sports you can always visit the Immortal Bridge which has stories attached to it. According to legend, the bridge was formed by the most spectacular rainbow.
Earth’s Drummer, Gulangyu Island
Gulangyu Island is located just southwest of Xiamen city. The island was once used as a common concession, or foreign territory. Visitors can get there via steamship which takes just five minutes. You will also notice that only electric-powered vehicles are allowed on the island itself.
Up until the 17th century, the island was called Yuanshazhou Island. It took its current name from the huge reefs that create a drumming sounds when the waves hit them at high tide. ‘G‘ means drum in Chinese, and ‘ ‘ means waves.
Once a private garden, Shuzhuang Garden is a must see historic site if you are visiting this island. It has two parts to it: The Garden of Hiding the Sea (Canghaiyuan) and the Garden of Making-Up Hills (Bushanyuan). The mix of play areas and caves with restful landscaping make it both surprisingly tranquil and highly energetic.
The mix of clean air, ocean music, architecture and sightseeing make Gulangyu Island one of the best beaches in China for foreigners looking for the complete package.
The perception around the world is that China is just a cultural and historic tourist destination. But the country is also filled with many natural wonders and sea resorts. While the history and culture of the country are unique, its beaches are too. The best beaches in China offer relaxation, mouth-watering food, sightseeing and sports. So what are you waiting for? Dip your toes in the water!