Sanya: Beach Resort, Diving Wharf, Jianfeng Ling Nature Reserve, Butterflies, Yalong Bay


You can't go any further south in China than Sanya, at the southern tip of China's southernmost island, Hainan Island. A few of us have come here to relax and celebrate New Years Day (2007) before returning home. Strictly a resort town, Sanya's many modern five-star properties present a quite different view of China than we are accustomed to. The contrast is amplified by the fact that resort personnel here are largely bilingual -- they speak both Chinese and Russian (but not much English). It seems that this place serves as a sort of Florida for Russians, and most of the other resort guests we encounter seem to be Russians. Some of them are a bit rowdy, particularly on New Years Eve, but we are tolerant.


Aside from beach going, the other principal activity here seems to be diving, and diving instruction, to which a long wharf and many contrivances moored in the harbor are devoted. We are not divers, so after a bit of beach combing we search for other things to do.

Hotel grounds

Hotel pools

Bay view
Monkeys at hotel entrance

Panorama of wharf and beach

Panorama of diving wharf and Dadonghai Beach beyond it (the photograph is taken from our hotel, the Sanya Shanhaitian). Use the slider to pan across the whole length of the wharf.

Wharf rules










The rules of the wharf are provided in crystal-clear Chinglish.

Park entrance

Bob and Judy K. and I hire a taxi for a day-long excursion to the Jianfeng Ling Nature Reserve, about 65 miles northwest of Sanya. We find it mostly deserted, so we have the 110 square mile tropical rainforest park pretty much to ourselves. The park claims to contain 8 types of rainforest, 3,000 kinds of plants, and 4300 kinds of animals (including insects). The personnel collecting the entrance fee seem surprised at our arrival, as if not many tourists come here, at least at this time of year. They inform us that many parts of the park must be off-limits to us, because (as best we can understand them) they don't have any personnel available to ensure our safety, but we can walk around a self-guided 1.9km trail in the Ming Feng Valley (below). This we do, while not encountering a single other visitor.

Sign with map
Trail view

We see lots of trees and plants, but encounter virtually no animals or insects, and just a few birds, mostly heard rather than seen. We are a bit disappointed.

Trail view
Thatched hut

Cattle on highway
Women with cattle

While driving both to and from the nature reserve we encounter farm animals being driven on the road. They seem to have the right of way.


We return to Sanya and go to a butterfly place near Yalong Bay. They seem to have only two kinds of butterflies. Then we take a glass-bottomed boat into the bay to see the undersea environment. We see quite a few fish, but not very clearly, and not of many varieties. The water is murky.

Fish seen from glass bottomed boat
Beach view

The beach at Yalong Bay is considered Sanya's best. It seems to be well appreciated.