Hainan, the Chinese Hawaii

Pipeline in Oahu, Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay, Bells Beach in Torquay, and Hainan Island, China. Which is the odd one out? Well none actually. Slowly but surely, surfing in China is becoming A THING.

Let’s be real, when you think of surfing, you’re probably not thinking of the Land of the Red Dragon. And neither are the locals really. According to ancient Chinese culture, water is a symbol of power and danger, and the majority of Chinese people are taught from a very young age to stay away from it. Of course things are changing, but so many Chinese can’t swim, let alone surf.

Is there such a thing as a Chinese beach culture?
It’s true that culturally, the Chinese don’t aspire to look like sun worshipping, bronzed-up beach dwellers. It’s slip, slop, slap and then some, with beach dwellers in China looking a world away from their liberated Brazilian counterparts. Have you ever tried to buy a swimsuit in China? Let’s just say that half the time they’re not even made of lycra.

Hundreds of miles of unexplored surfable coastline – Robert “Wingnut” Weaver

But then there’s Hainan
Hainan (literally translated to South of the Sea) Island is located on the very bottom tip of China, poking out into the South China Sea towards Vietnam. It gets multiple swells from northeastern and southern currents, has beautiful sandy beaches and a warm climate. Hainan even has its own yearly surf competition, the Hainan Open which is heavily backed by the local government. The two prime surfing regions are on the east coast and south coast, depending on what time of year you’re there. Search for places such as Shimei Bay, Riyue Bay, Ho-Hai Beach and “Matos” in winter; and Sanya Bay, Dadonghai Bay, Yalong Bay and “One Man Left” in summer. Coconut and palms trees abound in Riyue Bay, Hainan’s most loved surf beach, and you can rent boards, wetsuits or take lessons there.

Empty lineups
It’s always a nice feeling to feel at the beginning of something. For such an ancient land, the surf industry is only just burgeoning in Hainan, and you know what that means – few people! And on a wave, what can be better than that?

Want to do 5 star Hainan Island? TripADeal travels to the region here.

Image: Sanya Yalong Bay Beach