Famed more for its historical attractions such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Terracotta Army, China might not be your first choice for a beach holiday. However, there are in fact enough quality beaches in China to warrant a trip for those seeking sun, sea and surf.
Here are some of the best beaches in China for you to consider for your next tropical holiday in the sun:
This 7.5 km long beach in the Hainan province, which is the largest island under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China, is often touted as one of the best beaches in China and we can’t really argue with that.
In recent years a number of well-known five-star international hotels, such as the Sheraton, the Ritz-Carlon and the Marriot hotels, have opened branches at Yalong Bay. This is testament to the growing significance of this resort as a top tourist attraction to those from inland China, or abroad seeking a wonderful beach holiday. Yet despite the incursions of the big hotels, there is still plenty of space left for exploring and enjoying the pristine white sands and clear blue waters which are ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
The bay is 15 miles southeast of the city of Sanya, making it easily accessible to those who are visiting the city and want a break at the beach. The weather here is warm to hot all year round, with temperatures hovering at around 25°C and going up to 30°C in January; so make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen and keep hydrated in “China’s Hawaii”.
Xiamen is a city on the southeast coast of China that is also known as Amoy. It is an island which is part of the Fujian province and is home to the elaborate Fujian Tea Ceremony. However, it is the Xiamen beaches which are one of the big attractions of this area.
Many visitors from China and overseas are drawn here by the clear waters and long stretches of wide and sandy beaches. The stable winds here have also helped to establish Xiamen and its beaches as one of the main kite surfing destinations in China, with local and international competitions in the sport held here. If you are interested in trying your hand at kite surfing, the beach at Haiyuntai is reportedly the best place for it.
If you fancy some relative peace and quiet, away from the crowds of mainland China and Xiamen island, take the 20 minute ferry journey across to the small Gulanguy Island which has beaches aplenty and is pleasingly car-free.
This is another popular beach resort in Hainan province, along with Yalong bay, and is located 24 km to the west of Sanya city. It’s a popular destination for Chinese honeymooning newlyweds as it features in many famous romantic poems, but if you are just backpacking around the region, don’t let that stop you from visiting the beaches and other attractions of Tianya Haijiao.
While most Chinese tourists will be here to see famous rocks of various shapes and sizes, including the Sun and Moon rocks, you can still have an enjoyable time here walking along the beach, under the palms and doing a spot of people watching. It does get crowded here so bear that in mind when deciding whether to make the trip or not.
This is a 10 km beach in Hebei province in the north of China. The beach itself is on the coast of the Bohai Sea and features fine yellow sand which stretches far into the shallow sea. While the area is popular with Chinese tourists, it has yet to be overrun with their Western counterparts so don’t go expecting to find too much English language speakers or signs. Thanks to its relatively close proximity to Beijing, it’s a popular destination for the Communist Party of China’s annual beano to the beach. Good transport links to the resort also help keep visitors coming back year after year.
The climate in and around Beidaihe beach area is best described as warm, being neither too not, not too cold. However, it does have four distinct seasons including a monsoon, so it’s best to visit between May and October for the most welcoming weather.
The Beaches of Shenzhen
If you find yourself in Shenzhen then why not head down to one of the many beaches in the area, some of which are part of the large National Park and thus remain relatively unscathed by development.
One of the popular Shenzhen getaways is Xichong Beach in the Longgang District, which is part of the widely acclaimed Dapeng Peninsula. Here you will find long stretches of sand and gentle surf. It’s not easy to get to, due to its lack of travel links, but if you can make the effort to get there, making the one hour drive from the city, you will be rewarded by fewer crowds then some of the other local areas.
Dameisha Beach is another coastal attraction that lies about a 40 minute drive from downtown Shenzhen. As this beach is nearer than Xichong it does get more crowded so try to avoid it on the weekends and public holidays as you will be fighting for space on the sand. The Sheraton hotel has a private beach so if you can make use of their services you could find yourself some peace and quiet on this popular stretch of sand.
Dameisha Beach is often mentioned in the same breath as Xiaomeisha Beach as the two are close together and are both situated on the coast of the South China Sea, at Dapeng Bay. Like Yalong Bay, these two beaches have been linked to Hawaii by the local tourist board and are marketed as the “The Hawaii of the East”. While Dameisha Beach is free there is an entrance fee to Xiaomeisha of 30 RMB (at the time of writing) which explains why it can be less crowded than its neighbour. You can also hire tents here for a small fee for protection from the sun and a bit of privacy from the crowds.
What to Wear on the Beach in China?
If you are a white foreigner visiting the beaches of China for a spot of sun bathing you might become the star attraction of the beach if you happen to find one that is off the backpacker trail. For that reason, its best to try and test the waters with more modest attire than you might be used to wearing at beaches and around swimming pools elsewhere.
While at the beach, you might notice that lots of the locals are covered up, much as they would be on the beaches of neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. This is partly down to modesty but also perhaps just as likely to protect themselves from the sun’s rays. But we’re not talking skin cancer here but the negative affect of a suntan on one’s social standing in Asia.
Keeping skin white has reached such a high level of importance that Chinese beach goers have been one of the first groups of people to adopt the facekini: a kind of bikini for the face. If you don’t want to look like a peasant and don’t mind looking like a sea monster for the day, a facekini could be the perfect item of Chinese beachwear to help you fit in with the locals.