china’s hawaii: sanya on hainan island


Across Vietnam’s Halong Bay and south of mainland China lies a small piece of paradise now being called “China’s Hawaii” – the tropical enclave of Sanya on Hainan Island that boasts of having year-long summers and some of the cleanest air in the world.

It’s just about this time some years back, while I was still living in Hong Kong, that I decided to take time off and with my trustworthy Lonely Planet Guide in hand was blindly led like a moth to the light to Qingdao – a resort with “white sandy beaches” in the northern coast of China which turned out to be a dump.  If only Sanya had been on my radar then!!!


Mandarin Oriental restaurant in Sanya

My expat friends living in Asia rave about Sanya.  Its closer to China than Thailand, Vietnam or even the Philippines.  The water, they say, is just like Hawaii – it’s also lush in natural vegetation.  On the flipside, like most of modern China, construction mania has taken over with the city boasting 15 professional golf courses and at least 22 5-star hotels (some people may see this as a plus!).


Mandarin Oriental Hotel - Sanya

One of the superstar properties is the Mandarin Oriental Sanya.  I won’t go into explaining the Mandarin Oriental to anybody except to say that it’s the epitome for luxury service. Pair it with impressive south pacific architecture and interior decor, great food, a beautiful setting and offering any number of outdoor water activities, and you have a winner.


Mandarin Oriental sanya-villa-infinity-poo

While Hawaii is closer to me in New York, I still would venture to Sanya if I lived on the other side of the world.  There is just something more exotic about travelling where they don’t speak your native language. And that’s a thumbs up in my book.


richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: Mandarin Oriental, Sanya, Hainan Province, PRC.