Sanya Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Sanya

Sanya Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Sanya

By Ruby ZhaoUpdated Oct. 1, 2021

Sanya, in Hainan Province on the tropical south coast of China, has fantastic beach resorts and is viewed favorably as China's "southern gateway" with its relaxed visa-free policy. Sanya travel is getting more and more attention.

The long coastline, the blue sky, and the tropical climate make Sanya a favorite destination for travelers. Some even say that its beautiful beaches make it "the Hawaii of China".

Visiting Sanya for a winter escape has been very popular in recent years, but it is not easy to choose your best beach and hotel among tens of choices. Our expert advice is going to help you settle this and many other concerns so that you're ready for a dreamy Sanya trip.

Sanya Beach


The 7 Best Beaches/Bays in Sanya: How to Choose Yours

There are seven main beaches/bays in Sanya. We have compared them to help you select the best one for your Sanya trip. Review their advantages, disadvantages, and popular attractions.

  No/Few Crowds Beautiful Beach Clean Sea Sea Sports Sea Swimming Luxurious Hotels Affordable Hotels
Yazhou Bay        
Sanya Bay        
Yalong Bay    
Haitang Bay      
Qingshui Bay      
Shimei Bay    
Sanya Beach Map

1) Yazhou Bay

Still a fishing village at heart, Yazhou Bay is now one of the most important new tourism zones in Sanya. It is around 30 minutes' drive from Sanya International Airport.

  • Suitable for: travelers preferring a quiet beach with nature, local culture, and unpretentious accommodation
  • Advantages: less travelers and more affordable hotel options
  • Disadvantages: The tourism infrastructure is not very developed.

Main attractions:

Beluga Sanya Discovery Ocean World: Enjoy close encounters with animals of the sea.

Yazhou Central Fishing Port: It is a good photo spot. You can enjoy the romantic sunset, see how happy the fishermen are when coming back from the sea, taste the most affordable and freshest sea food straight from the fishing boats. Be prepared for the fishy odor.

2) Sanya Bay

Most convenient, Sanya Bay has a city center location near to the airport and railway station. First to be developed, Sanya Bay provides various food choices and entertainment facilities.

  • Suitable for: cosmopolitan travelers who want a long, fulfilling holiday in Sanya without overspending
  • Advantages: optimum convenience, many food/restaurant choices, value-for-money hotels
  • Disadvantages: many hotels have outdated facilities; more visitors; the sand is not so soft to walk on

Popular attractions:

  • Xidao Fishing Village has a history of more than 400 years but wasn't known to visitors until 2017. You will need to take a 10-minute boat ride to discover this quiet village. It's a great place for you to experience rustic seaside life in Sanya, and the villagers are friendly. Sit in a small coffee shop to listen to the story of the owner, the village, and the revolution of Sanya.
  • Amazon Jungle Water Park: Challenge your courage in exciting water games. You can spend most of the day there from 11:00 to 19:30.
  • Coconut Dream Corridor: Stretching 20 km along Sanya Bay, “the Corridor” is one of the most beautiful beach roads in Hainan Island, with coconut trees on both sides. You can walk along it to feel the tropical beauty and relaxing atmosphere of this island city. The sunset and night views can't be missed. Enjoy the BBQ and street music at night.
  • Tianya Haijiao: This site is a must-visit for couples and lovers. Tianya means ‘the end of the sky'. Haijiao means ‘the end of the sea'. The Chinese thinking behind Tianya Haijiao (/tyen-yaa hi-jyao/) translates as: ‘Lovers will find each other (even) at the ends of the world.' Remember to make a wish at the love trees!
  • Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone: On Nanshan Mountain, it consists of three specially-themed gardens: Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park (famous for Nanshan Temple), Felicity and Longevity Culture Park, and Nanshan Folk Customs Park.

Popular local food: coconut chicken, Baoluo rice noodles, Hou'an rice noodles

3) Dadonghai

Dadonghai features warm ocean water, white sand, and flat beaches in a city-accessible location as well as a well-developed surf-and-sand tourism and some nice scenic spots.

  • Suitable for: travelers who would like to eat local food in a downtown area and love sea sports including sailing out to sea (lots of Russians holiday in this area particularly)
  • Advantages: near to downtown Sanya, many choices of food and drinks; abundant sea sports; a good range of nice hotels
  • Disadvantages: the beaches, though better than Sanya Bay's, cannot be compared with those in Yalong Bay and Haitang Bay; on the expensive side

Popular attractions:

Sanya Tropical Rainforest Square: It takes 1–3 hours to visit. Besides authentic rainforest, you can also enjoy tasty Sanya food while listening to the “singing” of the sea.

Luhuitou Park: Situated on a hill near the seashore, it is a peninsula with water on three sides. Lu huitou means ‘deer looks back'. It is derived from a touching love story.

Long ago, a tyrant emperor desired a pair of hairy deer horns, so he forced a young Li ethnicity man named Ahei to hunt for deer in the mountains. While Ahei was hunting, he saw a beautiful spotted deer chased by a panther. He shot the panther to death with his arrow, and then ran after the deer for nine days and nine nights.

After passing ninety-nine hills, they arrived at the Coral Cliff of Sanya. The deer had no way to escape except to jump into the sea, and the hunter bent his bow and got ready to shoot. Suddenly, the deer turned its head back and changed into a beautiful girl, and walked towards him. The hunter and the girl fell in love and got married.

The panoramic view of the vast sea, the rolling mountains, and Sanya city from the top of the hill is fantastic.

Contact us for a Sanya vacation.

4) Yalong Bay

Yalong Bay has the softest sands and cleanest sea in Sanya. It is considered to be the most beautiful bay on Hainan Island. There are many choices of sea sports. It's about 30 minutes by car from the city center.

  • Suitable for those who love natural beauty and enjoying amazing soft sand and swimming in the sea.
  • Advantages: soft beaches and enticing waves
  • Disadvantages: Though there are many luxurious hotels, many are not well maintained (generally a notch above those in Sanya Bay).

Popular local food: coconut chicken, the bone soup in Shiweiguan Restaurant

5) Haitang Bay

Newly developed, Haitang Bay provides travelers with the most luxurious resorts and up-to-date facilities in Sanya. The accommodation is the best in all of Hainan Island. The famous hotel Atlantis Sanya China is located in Haitang Bay. It's about 40 minutes by car from the city center.

  • Suitable for: travelers who would like to relax in a wonderful hotel without crowds and shoppers — if you love shopping, come to Haitang (it's duty-free!)
  • Advantages: up-to-date, high-class hotels; excellent infrastructure and shopping
  • Disadvantages: the sea waves are large, so it's not good for swimming; fewer sea sport options; cost

Popular attractions:

Atlantis Aquarium and Aquaventure Waterpark: Have close encounters with sea animals and enjoy water fun for a whole day.

Wuzhizhou Island: Just off the coast of Haitang Bay, crystal clear sea, beautiful beaches, rare wildlife, and coral reefs are Wuzhizhou's main attractions. Two historical relics, namely the Matsu Temple and the Guanri Cliff, are the must-see spots. You can enjoy diving, sunbathing on the beaches, and seeing the plant and sea life.

Houhai Fishing Village: Located near the port for Wuzhizhou Island, it is also called Tenghai Fishing Village. You could have a short visit during a daytrip to Wuhizhou Island. The sea near the Houhai Village is considered to be a paradise for surfing. It is good for beginners. There are many surfing clubs where you can rent the equipment and hire a coach.

Nantian Hot Spring: Considered by some as the best hot spring resort in China, the resort is a 5-star complex incorporating all the services you'd expect for a hot spring holiday resort and more. It offers impressive pools of different sizes and shapes and provides many types of hot spring, including a coconut milk pool, coffee pool, Chinese herbs pool, and alcohol pool! There are also various swimming pools as well as a wide array of beauty treatments and massages available.

Popular local food: ‘drunk goose' in Xie Xianglin Drunk Goose Restaurant (谢香林醉鹅)

6) Qingshui Bay

Unlike other popular bays, Qingshui Bay (‘Clear Water' Bay) is mainly real estate developments. There are fewer hotels and tourist sites, thus there are fewer travelers there. It's about 80 minutes by car from the city center.

  • Suitable for: those who prefer little crowding, relaxing somewhere out-of-the-way, and Instagram-style photos
  • Advantages: fewer travelers; nice beach, clean sea; some fine hotels
  • Disadvantages: strong sea waves, so not good for swimming; peripheral location

Popular food: trotters on rice (猪脚饭)

Popular site:

Daidai Island: Dai means ‘staring blankly' in Chinese. It is popular with young Chinese KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) as there are many sights and properties for them to take IG photos at. Have you heard about the International Space-Out Competition? Daidai Island is one of its venues.

Contact us for a wonderful Sanya holiday.

7) Shimei Bay (in Wanning)

Far from Sanya city center (about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car), Shimei Bay is little known by holiday makers. You will meet few travelers there. It is a very good choice for a “Sanya escape” especially during peak season (New Year Holiday, National Day Holiday).

  • Suitable for honeymooners and those searching for solitude by the sea: it's not crowded and there is more privacy; those who love snorkeling and diving as the water there is very clean.
  • Advantages: new hotels and few tourists; great diving/snorkeling at Zhouzai Island and Jiajing Island; gorgeous beaches
  • Disadvantages: far from the city; swimming in the sea at the beach is not allowed; few sea sport options

Popular attractions:

Zhouzai Island: It is around 3 km (2 mi) from land and uninhabited. You will need to take a ferry boat (20 minutes) or other private boat to reach the island. Still little-traveled, Zhouzai Island's waters have kept their primitive atmosphere. What attracts snorkelers and divers are its clear water and corals.

Jiajing Island: Like Zhouzai Island, Jiajing Island is also off limits for landing, a similar distance from the coast, and blessed with beautiful underwater scenery. What is interesting is that its beach moves with the seasons.

Popular food: seafood on a fishing raft (海鲜渔排)

Recommended Sanya Tours (for Avoiding Crowds)

Why take a private tour in Sanya?

If this is your first time to Sanya — "the best destination for a beach holiday in China" — there are some matters you have to sort out before going...

  • Which hotel on which beach should I choose?
  • Are the attractions loved by Chinese tourists really worthy of a visit?
  • How can I have fun at the sea while avoiding tourist traps?

The planning is more complicated than what you expect for a beach holiday. A private tour will save your time in selecting the beach and the hotel, skip the commercial attractions, and ensure you uncompromised fun.

5-Day Sanya Tour with the Best Beach

Enjoy a Feast of the Sea, the Shore, and the Sun

Highlights of this 5-day Sanya tour:

  • Visit Nanshan Temple. Be amazed by the huge Guanyin statue on the sea.
  • Sail out to sea on a Hobie sailboat.
  • Explore Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park.
  • Enjoy stunning views of the ocean and experience a zipline in the forest.

Contact us for any questions and customization.

6-Day Sanya and Wanning Tour

While people prepared to rush to Sanya for a winter-escape holiday, we have prepared a plan for those who would like to get off the beaten path after visiting well-known Sanya.

  • Get away from the crowds to enjoy a hot spring hidden in a rainforest.
  • Snorkel in the sparkling blue ocean near an uninhabited island.
  • Walk on a beautiful undeveloped beach.

This 6-day Sanya and Wanning tour will give you the best of Sanya and the hidden treasures of Hainan Island.

Send us a free inquiry to start your travel plan.

Sanya Weather — The Best Times to Visit

It is enjoyable to visit Sanya in any month of the year, though the best period is from September to April, when the weather is drier and not so hot. Read more on Sanya Weather.

Sanya Transportation — Easy to Get There

Thanks to its tourism appeal and importance, Sanya is being built to be like a second Hong Kong with many flights and shopping opportunities. Transportation to Sanya is very convenient. It can be directly reached by air from most cities in China and some major airports in Southeast Asia.

The high-speed train system connects Sanya and Haikou (Hainan's capital) in only 1½ hours. In peak seasons, a flight to Haikou costs less than one to Sanya, and you can take a bullet train direct from Haikou Airport to Sanya.

Read more on Sanya Transportation.

Sanya Travel Tips

  • Many international hotel chains: There have been significant improvements in Sanya's hotel industry. Sanya now has a lot of international-standard hotels built for the many travelers who visit Sanya.
  • Sanya sailboating: You can rent a yacht or a sailing boat and enjoy a sailing tour in the clear waters of the sea.
  • Do not buy corals or entire natural tortoise shells as souvenirs, because it is against the law, and you are not allowed to carry them out of the country.
  • The ultraviolet radiation on Hainan Island is extreme, so remember to bring your sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas.
  • Medicine: It would be best to bring some medicine in case of heatstroke or gastrointestinal problems. An anti-malarial is recommended (Malarone, Doxycycline, or Lariam).
  • Swimming kit: As a minimum, bring a swimming suit, a swimming cap (usually required in swimming pools in China), and goggles. Most other equipment can be hired where activities are held.
  • After having seafood, you'd best not go swimming for an hour. People who are allergic to seafood or who have sensitive stomachs should beware of seafood poisoning.
  • Ethnic culture: Sanya is a garden city full of coconut palms and other green splendor. It's ethnic life is equally vibrant with people of more than 20 ethnicities, including Han, Li, Miao, and Hui. You may want to discover more of the local culture. Contact us for this or any other special requests or assistance.
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