Sanya is China’s southernmost city located on Hainan island, and just a short flight away from Shanghai. Here, the weather is warm all year round, making it the perfect destination for a summer vacation or a winter getaway with your family and friends. Read on to find out more about Sanya’s most memorable attractions and some tips to make your trip a smooth and enjoyable one. 

Dadonghai Beach

Perhaps the most vibrant and well-known beach in Sanya, Dadonghai, is just a short walk from the city center but offers pristine water and plenty of fun. There are countless small stalls on the beach where you can enjoy Sanya’s signature huge coconuts, freshly cut fruits, and ice cream while watching Dadonghai’s beautiful sunset. Beach bars are also a good location if you want to hang out and dance in the evening. 

Sunset at Dadonghai Beach.
Credit: Mia Trinh

Water sports are also very trendy in Dadonghai beach. You can take surfing and snorkeling classes or hop on a jet ski for a change of scenery.

Tip: Pay close attention to the signs when the waves are strong as visitors sometimes are not allowed to swim in parts of the water. Do also check the weather carefully before your trip because Hainan province is often hit by typhoons in the summer. 

Xiaodonghai Beach

Xiaodonghai is just a 9 minute drive from the city center. The lesser-known, smaller twin of Dadonghai beach is a lot less crowded and makes relaxing on the beach a slow and peaceful experience. Bring your favorite book and small snacks and recharge by the ocean while watching small fishermen go on their day-to-day routine. You can ask the local fishermen if they bring visitors with them for a small fee – this is a great way to get to know the local culture and be more present. 

Palm trees and Xiaodonghai Beach.
Credit: Mia Trinh

Tip: While international resorts are conveniently located by the beach, affordable Airbnb options are also available right around the corner.

Yalong Bay

Yalong Bay is a beautiful and highly developed 7 km beach situated 25 km away from the Sanya city center to the East. The best way to get there from the city center is by a taxi or a bus, as it only takes around half an hour. Due to the length of Yalong Bay, the beach there does not get too crowded and its clear water makes it a great place to scuba dive. F&B service is readily available for you to cool off under the sun. If you go with a group, consider renting a yacht to go out on your own adventure and enjoy far off-shore snorkeling and scuba diving. 

Yalong Bay.
Credit: St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort

Tip: Just like with Dadonghai beach, look out for no-swim signs and be careful while swimming. 

Nanshan Temple

Located 40 km away from Sanya city center, Nashan temple was established in 1998 and holds the world’s Guinness record of the largest Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) statue. The temple also hosts other beautifully crafted Tang dynasty replicas. Visiting Nashan Temple gives you a breathtaking view of the ocean while appreciating the temple’s harmony of harnessing spirituality in nature. Be sure to also check out other attractions within the Nanshan Cultural Tourism, such as the Longevity Valley and Sandi Bridge.

Nanshan temple is a great alternative on a gloomy day.
Credit: Mia Trinh

Tip: Tickets to the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone are set at CNY150, but you can get a 50% off with your NYU student card.