There’s much more to Sanya than sand and shopping — but we won’t blame you if you can’t pick yourself up off the stunning beach on China’s Hainan Island.
Ease into your island getaway with a walk on the beach and some lounge time before it gets too hot to be outside. Sanya experiences a tropical climate all year, so travelers should expect steamy temperatures come early afternoon. (It often gets into the high 80s and 90s well into November.) The best beaches are along the southern coast, where you’ll find The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya. The exclusive resort has everything you’ll need under one roof — a serene spa, excellent culinary experiences and a pristine beach to boot.
As the sun heats up, make your way to Sanya Downtown Duty Free, the world’s largest duty-free mall, measuring at more than 750,000 square feet. This massive complex boasts over 300 brands, with every luxury label imaginable. From Rolex and Prada to Chanel and Marc Jacobs, it’s all there with tax-free price tags. The architecture is worth a look, too: light streams through the matrix-like design and makes the experience feel more relaxed and elegant compared to most jam-packed mega-malls in China.
When lunchtime rolls around, make your way along the picturesque cliff-front road to the Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay Resort. Designed in a contemporary Chinese-chic style, the palatial resort is home to several noteworthy restaurants, including the Tea House, which serves delicious dim sum in a traditional-style building where charming birdcages hang from sky-high ceilings.
After a few hours of relaxation back at your room, find your way to Sanya’s one and only notable Italian restaurant — Sofia at The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, for a romantic and indulgent evening. If the weather cools down, there’s a private pavilion on the terrace with impressive views of the coastline. Chef Daniele Vacca’s food takes inspiration from his home island of Sardinia, Italy, so expect to sample homemade bread, gnocchi, pizza and even gelato. After dinner, head down to Sand beach bar and relax inside a private cabana with a summery cocktail in hand while a live band jams the night away.
Soak up Sanya’s rich culture with a morning trip to the Nanshan Temple, one of the largest Buddhist sites in China. Up at the lookout point, enjoy the beautiful view across the South China Sea miles from the downtown area. The religious center sprawls across 66 acres. There are two welcoming Buddha statues at the base of the mountain, as well as several more figures scattered across the park grounds.
For lunch, try your hand at the seafood market, Chunyuan Seafood Square. Here you can enjoy fresh catch prepared to order in front of your eyes. It’s a bustling open-air food market with dozens of vendors selling crabs, shrimp, snapper, scallops, sea urchins and more. It helps to come prepared with cash and a few Chinese phrases, as the majority of hawkers don’t speak English.
Treat yourself in the afternoon with a bit of pampering at the Banyan Tree Spa Sanya, which is home to “The Rainforest,” an incredible, jungle-like hydrothermal labyrinth that leads guests through a series of rain showers, massage jets, sauna rooms and more. Or perhaps a round of golf at the Yalong Bay Golf Club would nicely fill the time — the game is one of the most popular pastimes on this sunny island.
Cap off your stay with dinner and a nightcap at the Beach Bar at the InterContinental Sanya Resort, which is less than 15 miles from your Ritz-Carlton hotel room. Featuring gorgeous swinging chairs and a bamboo-clad, open-air design, the Beach Bar is just steps from the ocean. Romantic lounge pillows by the waves give the address a low-key Thai vibe, while the cocktail list is surprisingly international.