Family Travels: Sanya, Hainan Island

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Travelers: British couple Nick and Sally Mulvenney, and their son Max (3).

The Plan: One week in Sanya to swim, play, swim, eat, swim, sleep and swim. The family were after a “no fuss” Beijing air break that would totally occupy a three-year-old.

Where to snooze: An ocean-view room at the Marriot in Yalong Bay. The resort is very child-friendly, with a kids’ club, kids’ menus, landscaped gardens and hammocks on the hotel beach which provided never-ending fun for Max. Waves are low rise – perfect for littlies.

Where to go: This was very much a resort holiday; the family didn’t leave the comfort of their resort except to visit Sanya City. They loved simply swimming, fossicking for shells, building sandcastles and hearing Max’s squeals of delight on the kids’ water slide with his newfound friends. Sally says they would definitely check out Monkey Island next time they go, as well as the minority villages and Nanshan Cultural Zone.

A little culture: The Nanshan Culture Zone is 40km from Sanya City, and features a Buddhism Culture Park and Hainan Custom Culture Park. Highlights included the Nanshan Temple and the sea-side statue of Guanyin standing a whopping 108 meters high. The smaller jewel-encrusted statue nearby is made of 100kg of gold, diamonds, jade and other precious stones (150RMB adults, 78RMB kids, 8am-6pm daily).

Monkey around: Nanwan Monkey Island is the only tropical island reserve for macaque monkeys. A tropical paradise of white sands, coral reefs and coconut palms, access to the island is via a 2,138 meter ropeway – the longest in the world. Kids will adore watching monkeys play and swim, but don’t wear red as it excites them (50km from Sanya, 128RMB, 8am-4.30pm daily).

Downtown: Sally found some great snacks and sand toys at a local supermarket in Sanya, for a fraction of their resort’s prices. Visit the Yalong Bay Central Plaza (33RMB) where you’ll find a Shell Museum to delight parents and little ones alike (38RMB). Nearby Butterfly Valley is a 1.5 hectare enmeshed butterfly paradise that will have the kids entranced (23RMB, 0898 8856 8899, 7.30am-6pm daily).

What to eat: The Mulvenneys sampled both resort food and local restaurants, with Hainan chicken rice proving a hit with Max. Sally and Nick enjoyed the giant prawns, hot off the barbecue. Don’t miss the fresh coconut on the beach.

Sunny tips: Sanya averages over three hundred sunny days a year, so pack the high factor sunscreen, hats and swim shirts.

First published in beijingkids magazine and on the beijingkids website.

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