The Travel Diary: Things to do in Sanya, Hainan Island

Sanya, Hainan Province, China's southernmost city, is fast emerging as one of the most popular tourist destination in mainland. Living up to its "The Hawaii of China" branding, the island's warm weather makes it the place for Hong Kong residents as well as other Asian tourists to seek a respite from winter.

Yalong Bay in Sanya, Hainan island, a must-visit for anyone who loves a white sandy beach with an unobstructed view of the South China Sea.

With its clear blue waters rivaling, it's no wonder why major hotel chains have set up world-class resorts here in the past few years.

We check out where you can stay, eat and have some fun under the sun in Sanya, Hainan.

What to do

Diving is available at all times of the year, although visibility changes according to the season. The best time to dive is from April to October.

While you're in Sanya, enjoying the sand, sun and sea are a given, but also while you're there try to get in a bit of scuba diving. The calm and warm seas, as well as the diversity of tropical fish, variety of coral and the good water visibility make Sanya a great location for divers.

For those who would rather soak in than dive into the water, head to Nantian Hot Springs, located within Nantian Spa & Resort, one of the island's most popular place of interest for visitors. Be sure to make reservations a day in advance in order to avoid the possible crowds and queue. Enquire at your respective hotels for more information.

Nantian Hot Springs, Nantian Farm, Tengqiao Town, Sanya 572013, China

Where to stay

The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort will also introduce the South China region's first Iridium Spa, which will become a destination of its own for visitors to Sanya.

The recently opened St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay is the first hotel in Hainan Island to offer full butler service to all of its guests, which is definitely setting a luxury standard on the island.

The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort offers 373 exquisitely designed guest rooms and suites, as well as 28 beachside villas. Besides bespoke amenities and services, the hotel also offers the island's only sail-in, sail-out access through an exclusive partnership with the Sanya Yalong Bay Yacht Club (SYYC), located in the premises of the hotel.

Guests arriving by yacht will be provided with private butler service upon arrival and throughout their stay, as well as access to private limousine and jet services.

Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa is a tropical palace with breathtaking oriental design features reflecting its locale in China's tropical Hainan Island.

Another hotel worthy of a mention is the Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa, a luxury resort under Marriott. It has a total of 507 deluxe rooms, including 90 suites and 10 villas with great views of Haitang Bay, where it is located.

All guest rooms come equipped with wireless and high-speed Internet access, iPod docking stations, flat screen TV's and state-of-the-art technology.

The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, Yalong Bay National Resort District Sanya, Hainan 572000 China, +86 (898) 8888 6789, www.stregis.com/sanyayalongbay; Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa, 1, Yezhou Road, Haitang Bay, Sanya, Hainan 572013 China, www.renaissancesanya.com

What to eat

Fresh features contemporary Australian cuisine heavily inspired by both French and Japanese cooking.

It is only natural to demand for fresh seafood while you're on an island getaway, and we have just the place for that. Fresh at Mandarin Oriental serves up a luxury and premium selection of both freshwater and saltwater seafood, as well as shellfish and meat.

To top it all off, the all-al fresco restaurant has the stunning South China Sea as a natural backdrop, making it a visit to be remembered. Evening is the best time to dine of course, when the sun sets.

For a dining affair out at sea, try the Sea Pavillion at InterContinental Sanya Resort. It is located 100 metres from the shore, with a brilliant view of the coral reef right below. The Sea Pavillion serves up Chinese cuisine, including some fine and fresh seafood. 15 private rooms are linked to the main restaurant via jetties within the Sea Pavillion.

Fresh, Mandarin Oriental Sanya, 12 Yuhai Road, Sanya City 572000, Hainan, China, +86 (898) 8820 9999; Sea Pavillion, InterContinental Sanya Resort, No.1 Zhouji Lu, Hainan Province, Sanya, 572000, China, +86 (898) 8861 8888

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