For sun and sand lovers, Yalong Wan (Yalong Bay) is rather a disappointment. About 15km (10 miles) or a half-hour bus ride east of Sanya, this 7km (4-mile) stretch of sand edging the South Sea used to be perfect for walking, sunbathing, and swimming. Nowadays it has to contend with lying beside one of the busiest shipping routes in the world where huge polluting supertankers regularly flush their ballast tanks. Closer to town, the crescent-shaped Da Donghai Beach, about 3km (2 miles) southeast of town, is another alternative, but it would be useful if you can speak Russian in this area. The beach is smaller and more crowded than Yalong Bay's but you can engage in all the same activities here, including snorkeling, boating, and scuba diving. Be warned that safety standards are nonexistent; locals rush into half-hour scuba dives with almost no training or preparation, and a little American girl was killed here in a parasailing accident just last year. The beach at Tianya Haijiao (¥46/$6/£3), 23km (13 miles) to the west, is often considered to be the end of the earth (literally "edge of the sky, mouth of the sea"); it is best left to Chinese tourists who tramp through the sand in their patent-leather shoes to see Chinese calligraphy carved on giant boulders and fend off the persistent hawkers. A popular but expensive day trip is to Xi Dao (West Island), about a 10-minute boat ride off the coast of Tianya Haijiao, where you can dive, fish, or ride buggies in the sand dunes. Boats leave from the dock (tel. 0898/8834-3516) just east of the Tianya Haijiao Tourist Area and cost ¥120 ($16/£7.80) round-trip.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.