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If you are looking for a beach party, Tantou Island offers a pretty cool option.
Tantou Island, a lovely fishing island, is near Ningbo and is basically two islands joined by an isthmus. Tantou gets its name from Tantou Mountain (檀头山 Tantou Shan, search this on Google Maps), the highest hill on the island.
It is a quiet island with a sparse population, and the main attraction there is the strip of beach, that offers a perfect weekend getaway for Shanghai folks. Accommodation options there are pretty basic in the form of hostel rooms, in addition to renting out your own tents (which is more popular with tourists).
Summer time around June–July. Be sure to run a quick weather check before you plan a trip.
The journey time is about a total of 4.5 hour bus ride and a 35 minute boat ride from Shanghai. There is no direct train or bus from Shanghai to Shipu (石浦) in Ningbo, so buses from Shanghai Hutie Long Distance Bus Station, Henfeng Road to Ningbo is a good way to start. Public buses will involve a 2-hour bus ride to Ningbo then a 2-hour bus ride to Shipu fishing village in Xiangshan County (象山县), followed by the 35 minute boat ride from Shipu harbor. Bus ticket prices may vary from RMB 100 to 350 depending on class.
The small fishing boats from here are frequent and available on first come first serve basis. They accommodate 8–9 people at a time. Entry fee to Tantou Island is RMB 98 per person. Hiring a private bus is definitely more convenient (which we can help you with).
If you want to leave Shanghai in the evening, you can make a pit stop for the night at any of the hotels at Shipu fishing village for approximately RMB 300 a night for a decent room with hot shower. It can feel quite remote. Don't forget your passport, mosquito repellent or sunscreen!
The beach itself is quite ideal for a group of people, rather than for a couple. It is a regular beach, can be crowded, but has its own charm. The best way to experience a night here is to camp out on the beach and doze off to the sounds of the waves. Tents can be rented out at RMB 50 each and will fit in two people. You can even choose to bring you own. If you don't want to camp out on the beach, hostel rooms are available, also from RMB 50 a night. The hostel rooms have 2-bed or 3-bed arrangement. Don't miss the sunrise at 4:40 am — it is worth waking up to.
Long weekends can have this beach SUPER crowded with tents set up side by side, and several beach parties with bonfires and barbecues on at the same time at dusk. During the day, you can rent out motor quads for rides on the beach or swim in the rather cold waters. In the evenings, you can set up your own barbecue stall or campfire or join any of the other groups. Beach sport is also a welcome activity there. Hiking is another option on the surrounding green hillocks.
There are stalls selling beers (not quite chilled), water, juices and ice cream. You can grab some really delicious home-made sea food meals (fish, mussels, jelly fish, snails, octopus, prawns, oysters) at any of the restaurants lining up the approach to the beach.
Be wary of the toilets — carry enough toilet paper as sanitation there is a concern. Expect to go without a proper shower, even though there are showers built there. There can be water shortage depending on the crowd levels, especially in the evening. If you want to shower, get ready to race or wait till morning.
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We hope our suggestions help you pick the best kind of trip for yourself and your friends. You could even use ideas from these pages and sketch out your very own customized trip!