This is sponsored content for Hainan Tourism.
The newest tropical hotspot is not an obscure island in Thailand, it is not an undiscovered part of Bali, nor is it the Philippines' latest beach-lover's retreat.
Meet Hainan. Hainan blends a sultry southern climate with ancient Chinese culture, spicy local street food and a lush, heavily forested interior ideal for hikers and climbers. This island mixes surf culture with high-end shopping, it mashes up perfectly curated golf courses with wild, untamed jungle treks. In fact, there is so much adventure and things to do in Hainan, that you'll barely see your bed. Hainan is a trip to the tropics done differently and a side of China that you never expected. You might come for the beach but you will come back for the depth of offerings that China's second largest island has for you.
Sand, surf and beats
Parasailing on Fenjezhou island. Photo: Dallas Kilponen.
By day, beautiful beaches like Baifu Bay and the island-off-an-island that is West Island offer some of the finest snorkelling and diving in Hainan, with a huge variety of tropical marine life spread across miles of protected coral reefs. If you want some water sports head over to Dadonghai where the South China Sea plays host to a range of water-based fun, from joining a local fishing boat to sea kayaking and parasailing.
If you want to get your surf on you can test your mettle at the finest surf beaches in China and then chill at the local surf clubs, that also offer surfboard rental and one-on-one wave-catching lessons – making a big-wave ride easy, because a beach holiday should be heavy on the chill-out factor.
Come night, the seafront strip of bars in the old fishing port of Sanya has your idyllic beach vibe covered with bars like WOS Beach Bar spilling out on the sound with beats that will get you up and dancing on the sand, drink in hand. It's a more sophisticated crowd at Beach Bar in the InterContinental with music that kicks off to celebrate sunset with top-drawer tipples and plenty of rattan nooks to hide away in. While Sand, at the Ritz-Carlton at Yalong Bay Beach, serves up fresh seafood and crisp white wine at toes-in-the-sand tables with a side of live bands.
Test your mettle at the finest surf beaches in China.Photo: Dallas Kilponen.
Chill out before you arrive
Getting to Hainan from Australia is easy with direct flights from the east coast to Haikou, meaning you don't have to hassle with a stopover. You don't need a visa for this part of China, just grab your passport and go, and you will find that the cost of a flight is often cheaper than traditional beach destinations like Bali and Thailand, leaving you more money for Hainan's famous duty-free shopping.
Once you arrive in Haikou you have a range of resorts to choose from including international big hitters like St Regis, Atlantis and MGM or local giant Mission Hills which comes with its own relaxing attraction, one of the region's biggest spas and a network of natural springs where you can soak away your woes.
If you fancy a bit of tropical excitement you have the untouched forests of the interior where you can scale cliff faces, conquer suspension bridges or even take a zipline through the lush forest canopy.
The lush Five Finger Mountain is a must-see. Photo: Dallas Kilponen.
Then, when you have worked up a hunger you can dive into Hainan's famous food scene at one of the many snack streets, laneways packed with Chinese barbecue, fresh-off-the-boat seafood and sweet tropical treats like mangoes and the island's famous pineapples, exported all over China.
Tourism to Hainan might be new but the culture here dates back thousands of years so spend some time exploring the history of the Li and Miao people, whether you visit a jungle village, buy some local handicrafts or catch a live show that celebrates the indigenous people's song and dance.
Blissed-out beach bars and adventurous day treks, high-end resorts and an ancient culture to explore, Hainan is the warm-weather getaway that offers more than just amazing beaches.
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 visit Hainan Airlines.