10 adventurous ways to explore tropical China

This is sponsored content for Hainan Tourism.

China's tropical playground of Hainan is an island packed full of beach bars, natural springs and world-class golf courses fringed by the inviting waves of the South China Sea. It can be the ultimate fly-and-flop destination for those travelling to luxury resorts like the Atlantis Sanya, the St Regis Sanya Yalong Bay resort and the MGM Grand Sanya.

But this tropical isle also has an adventurous heart with plenty of adrenaline-fuelled experiences that'll earn you that beachside cocktail at the end of a long day of hiking, diving or seafaring.

Hiking in Hainan

Seven Fairy Mountain, named for its dramatic seven pinnacles.

Seven Fairy Mountain, named for its dramatic seven pinnacles. Photo: Supplied

The mountainous centre of Hainan is filled with lush rainforests, hidden riverbanks and vertiginous cliff faces, perfect for the adrenaline junkie in all of us. You can hike the various trails along Five Finger Mountain, an important landmark to the indigenous Li people; take on the rugged west coast of the island with hiking trails that take in the coastline; or tackle Seven Fairy Mountain in the Baoting National Rainforest Park. The seven peaks of this region are a near-vertical climb and there are chains embedded in the rock face to assist the hardy to the top.

Take to the skies

See the tropical island from the sky in a hot-air balloon. Hainan is so fond of this sport that there is an annual China Hot Air Balloon Challenge on the island with beautiful painted balloons taking off from the capital of Haikou.

Strap in to a jet boat

On Wuzhizhou Island, a butterfly-shaped atoll just off the coast of Haitang Bay, you can experience the thrill ride of a high-speed jet boat. These high-octane rides will throw you from side to side as they zig and zag across the water. Be sure to strap in tight.

Hit the waves

Big wave surfing at Sun and Moon Bay.

Big wave surfing at Sun and Moon Bay. Photo: Supplied

Big-wave surfing is big-time business in Hainan, so much so that the island is known as the surf capital of China. It's still a relatively new sport to the Chinese, so you'll pick up some great waves in Hainan without a huge crowd. Hit the east coast beaches like Shimei Bay and Riyue Bay or take on the waves in the south at hotspots like Sanya Bay and Yalong Bay. You can hire boards from the many surf clubs and book private lessons with a local pro.

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Fly along the water

Still making use of the South China Sea on West Island – which is a short day trip from Sanya – is the "flying fish" boat. You will hear the screams and laughter from the shore as this inflatable boat, which takes its design cues from the flying fish, bounces and jumps along the water surface.

Go white water rafting

White water rafting in Five-Finger Mountain

White water rafting on Five-Finger Mountain Photo: Supplied

On the turbulent Wanquan (Ten Thousand Spring) River in central Hainan you can ride the rapids on a bamboo raft. And when the river calms down you simply take in the amazing untouched tropical forest on the shoreline.

Discover secret waterfalls

The majestic Yanoda rainforest in Sanya.

The majestic Yanoda rainforest in Sanya. Photo: Supplied

In the centre of the island, Baihu Ridge has a number of waterfalls that hikers can uncover as they walk along the mountain ridge. The name "baihu" means white flowers and the flow of water is said to look like these pale-coloured blooms tumbling down from the mountain.

Swim with dolphins

At Yalong Bay in Sanya you can explore the coral reef on a dive trip, take a sight seeing submarine or simply snorkel with the local marine life that might include dolphins, turtles and tropical fish.

Bike through ancient villages

To experience what life was like before the tourist boom, grab a bicycle and head through the villages and fields of the interior with rides like the "dragon road" marked yellow for cyclists.

Meet the monkeys of Hainan​

Meet the relaxed macaque monkeys while in Hainan.

Meet the relaxed macaque monkeys. Photo: Getty

On a day trip to Monkey Island you will meet the laidback macaques that call this tropical paradise home. And for added adventure you can access the island via China's longest ropeway with a cable car spectacularly suspended above the ocean.

This article has been produced in association with Hainan Tourism.

Direct flights are available from Sydney-Haikou & Melbourne-Haikou. Upon arrival in Haikou, high-speed rail is available for travellers visiting Sanya and other island locations.

For more information on flights to Hainan, see Hainan Airlines. 

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