Part two of our Sanya experience:
Many consider Sanya to be the Chinese version of Hawaii and flock to it for relaxing beach time and fun water activities. Certainly the warmer temperatures draw people to the relatively close vacation destination, as it did my family during spring break.
Within the three major bays, you can experience different cultural experiences. From what I’m told, Sanya Bay is where you go for city culture, markets and the like; Dadonghai Bay is where you’ll find tremendous Russian influence; and Yalong Bay is more resort-y and expensive.
The beach is self-explanatory. All along the resort beach area is lovely soft sand, minus sharp shells, nibbling fish or any debris. It was truly clean and pretty. Swimming areas were large but roped off so that lifeguards could keep ample watch. Waves were high enough to jump and enjoy, but not forceful or dangerous, and the water was cool, but warm enough to swim. It was a nice treat to see wedding photography being done right on the beach as well – having two little girls, they never tire of seeing that. We also saw a wedding in progress at our resort, complete with a groom riding a horse to the chapel.
If your child is old enough, there are endless water sports activities to participate in: parasailing, banana boat rides, Jet Skis and many more. However, my 8-year-old was too small for these, leaving only the glass bottom boat or speed boat ride (neither of which we did). Keep this in mind if you bring your kids so that you aren’t surprised or disappointed if not all can participate.
Segway rides on the beach area available everywhere at a steep price (RMB 358 for 30 minutes), but as they are a novelty that you always seem to do on vacation, my kids did participate and had a blast. Tandem bikes rented by the resort allowed us to venture out and see the city center and smaller shopping areas, as well as other resorts nearby.
Kids’ club activities, at least in our resort and I have to assume in others as well, were tailored more for the younger set. The in-between ages of my girls sometimes makes activities difficult – too little for some; too big for others. Taxi drivers were aplenty, although with such limited English, even with resort staff, we found ourselves being taken to wrong locations a couple of times. They all seemed intent to drop us off at what appeared to be a quite large and popular Rain Forest location. We didn’t go, but from the looks of the tour buses, we were in the minority. It may well have been a good day activity had we wanted a break from the beach.
We did venture out to a butterfly park (lots of photo opportunities for children to hold tropical birds), a shell museum (tourists here were more interested in taking pictures of our girls), and Monkey Island, about an hour taxi ride away. I highly recommend the latter. You take a cable car to the island and see monkeys roaming around freely. There are many photo ops here and my girls loved having them on their heads (yes, that’s right). Less humane were the “shows” with monkeys performing, including the comedy routine and the circus show (riding bikes, etc.). Still, we loved it and it was a highlight of the trip.
Someone asked me if Sanya would be a good long weekend get-away, and I think it would. If you are just looking for a few relaxing days on the beach with not much else to do, the 3 ½ hour flight is both near enough and far enough to enjoy a break.
So, in a nutshell, some pros and cons from our Sanya experience (travel, accommodations and locale) – take it for what it’s worth:
- Beach/Pools: nice and clean, fine sand, lifeguards everywhere, no fish or jellyfish in the water to scare kids…many pools
- Kid friendly – water sports galore!
- Nearby attractions (butterfly park, monkey island, shell museum, rainforest)
- Many resort options/prices to choose from
- Ginormous breakfast buffet at the Ritz (and others, from what I’ve heard)
- “Nearby” beach destination
- Ridiculously pricey food
- Not much English; too much “miscommunication”
- Not as “tourism” oriented as expected (think: Thailand)
- China Southern issues
- Rat (side note: saw my first rat in China while in Sanya, although in fairness it likely was simply bad timing)
- Busy during Chinese holidays and Christmas; otherwise relatively quiet
For part one of this travel post, click here.