A pretty damn fantastic way to spend a Friday afternoon.
We’ve had awesome weather here in Haikou for much of the last two weeks — in stark contrast to the cold and rain of our first week on the island. Not wanting to push our luck though, Maggie and I decided that we’d play hooky from the massive amount of stuff we still need to catch up on after the move, and head down to the beach yesterday.
Frankly, that we had gone three weeks living on an island without getting on a beach and in the water seemed a little odd to me, and I was eager to set things right. We had been told that Haikou’s beach selection was pretty abysmal compared to the beaches down in Sanya, but decided we wanted to give ’em a shot before heading down the coast on the new fast train (something like 1.5-2 hours to Sanya now).
On the western side of Haikou a 2-3km long park runs along the coast and is virtually just a long stretch of beach. The main “beach” area though is Holiday Beach (假日海滩/jiàrì hǎitān). Maggie hunted around online a bit and found out we could take the #57 city bus a short walk from our place all the way there for 2RMB (about $0.30). Some time ago I fell into the habit of turning my nose up at taking the bus in this country, but it’s hard to argue the price. I’m not sure if it was the time of the day or our early position on the route, but the bus was uncrowded and we easily got seats in both directions.
Holiday Beach — looking east.
Holiday Beach surprised us. We’ve been to two of the three beaches in Sanya (Sanya Bay and Dadonghai) and Holiday Beach was easily as nice as either of them. From the pictures I’ve seen of Yalong Bay (further away from Sanya proper) however, it still looks the nicest of the group.
Maybe we had just set our expectations quite low, but we were quite impressed with the beach. The beach stretches a long distance in both directions, so there’s no problem finding a quieter spot. We opted for a set of loungers covered by an umbrella, which ran us 30RMB (50RMB in the high season) with no time limit. Behind the row of loungers is a collection of small shops and chuar (BBQ) stalls; I’ve got to tell ya, there’s nothing like spending a Friday afternoon with the three Bs — beach, beer and barbecue.
The quality and temperature of the water was a bit meh, but again, about what we expected from our experiences in Sanya at this time of year. With the exception of Yalong Bay (or better, Wuzhizhou Island), it would seem most of Hainan doesn’t exactly offer the pristine turquoise shallows of Thailand or the Caribbean.
That said, the water was more than fine for swimming and playing in — I grew up on the Great Lakes, and so greenish water with a bit of initial ball-tucking chill is what I’m used to.
This was Casey’s first trip to the beach ever, and so we were pretty keen on seeing how he’d react to the water — it could have gone better. He loves water — bath water. I think he’d be quite content to sit in his little bath tub all day and just splash splash splash. However, when it came to getting into the sea, the less-than-bath-temperature and waves made him a bit nervous. He splashed around on the shore a bit, but when I took him further out to get right in, he was pretty eager to get back to his beach toys on the dry, warm sand.
It was a long day in the sun, and my IT-guy basement complexion is all the redder for it, but a great day by all counts and we’re looking forward to making it a regular trip.