China’s far-stretching coastline is on the Pacific Ocean’s western shore and the country boasts over 5000 islands with Hainan and Taiwan being the largest of these islands.
Marine Environment & Dive Sites
Scuba diving in China is the best in the southern region of the country, where the climate is warmer and there are tropical coral reefs to explore.
Hainan Island & Sanya
The Island of Hainan in the south west of China is a very popular diving destination. The coastal city of Sanya on Hainan Island is one of the most popular scuba diving spots due to its coastal monsoon climate offering warm weather throughout the year. Sanya also plays a significant role as a foreign trade port, and is filled with diverse culture that tourists enjoy. The entire area is surrounded by protected coral reefs that form part of the Hainan Sanya Natural Coral Reef Reserve. The coral and tropical marine life in this area is similar to what is found in Indonesia.
Sanya is a great holiday destination for scuba divers and beach-lovers alike.
For scuba divers, Sanya offers an abundance of marine life in warm, clear waters that boast an average temperature of 28°C. The dive sites around Sanya are not very deep, with most sites not reaching further than 18 meters. The underwater visibility depends on the season, however the best time to visit Sanya for scuba diving is between April and October. Hermit crabs, sea urchins, lobsters and starfish are all likely to be seen around Sanya.
The Hainan Sanya Natural Coral Reef Reserve also includes two additional reef areas in Sanya Bay which are known as Xi Mao and Dong Mao Islands and Yalong Bay. The best diving can be found in Yalong Bay, but Sun Bay and Baifu Bay are also very popular as they are reachable by boat.
Another area that is excellent for diving is the 15 dive sites around Pak Sha Wan in Hong Kong, although the conditions vary greatly based on the weather.
In good conditions, divers can experience warm, bath-like waters of 30°C and visibility of up to 20 meters. The dive sites range from shallow training spots to deeper coral reefs with plenty to see.
Many of the underwater areas in Hong Kong are designated as marine reserves in an effort to protect the marine and coral life here. For macro divers, a night dive at Sharp Island is an experience not to be missed. Regular sightings of frogfish, seahorses, leaf fish, octopus, crustaceans and invertebrates all occur at Sharp Island.
Great Wall of China
Although the visibility isn’t always ideal, it is possible to dive a section of the Great Wall of China! In 1981, an area of the wall was flooded by the Chinese government in response to the water shortages that China was experiencing at the time, and it is now possible to dive up to 35 meters down along the Great Wall. Divers are unlikely to see much more than shrimp in this area, however being able to say you’ve dived the Great Wall is a special experience no matter what you see.
Chinese Freshwater Dolphin
The Chinese freshwater dolphin is likely to be extinct.
In 2007, a team of scientists in China has failed to find any Yangtze river dolphins, also known as Baijis, during a six-week survey of the mammals’ habitat.
The World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threaten Species currently classifies the creature as critically endangered.
Dr. Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London, one of the paper’s co-authors, described the findings as a “shocking tragedy”.
The Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) was the only remaining member of the Lipotidae, an ancient mammal family that is thought to have separated from other marine mammals over 20 million years ago.
The white, freshwater dolphin had a long, narrow beak, low dorsal fin, lived in groups of three or four and ate fish.
How to get to Sanya
Thankfully it is now much easier to travel domestically throughout China thanks to modernizations in its air, rail and road systems. All of the major cities in China now have airports and a number of domestic airlines link the various areas with new Boeing, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas aircrafts.
Sanya’s Phoenix International Airport is one of the busiest in the region, with many tourists choosing to start and end their journeys here.
Many of the old Chinese rail systems have now been replaced, making it easier for visitors to travel short inter-city journeys or longer-distance routes. A good point to note is that the trains in China are extremely punctual, meaning that if you are even a minute later than the scheduled departure you will have missed the train. Once in Chinese cities it is relatively easy and common to travel by taxi or bicycle.
Diving Operators in China
If you’re looking to book some scuba dives around Hainan Island, Red Coral Water Sports Center located in Sanya is a good choice. This certified PADI operator offers diving certifications as well as guided scuba diving trips with shore diving and boat diving possibilities. For non-divers this dive operator will arrange snorkeling trips as well as boating, paddle boarding, jet skiing and parasailing experiences.
For divers based in Hong Kong, a great choice for anything scuba diving related is Mandarin Divers. Mandarin Divers are able to offer diving instruction in a variety of languages in addition to English including Cantonese, Spanish, Mandarin, Dutch, German, Japanese and French. Pre-booking is necessary to take advantage of instruction in these languages, however Mandarin Divers offers training for all levels of diver from recreational right up to instructor level through RAID, PADI and IANTD. Mandarin Divers offers local night dives every 2 weeks as well as local diving trips and even diving trips that will take you abroad. With 3 dive boats and a retail shop that is also able to service dive equipment, Mandarin Divers will take care of all your diving needs.
Started in 1995, Dragon Diving is a 5 star PADI Center located in Beijing, China. Dragon Diving offers beginner through to instructor level training and certification with a resident PADI Course Director. The center is affiliated with NAUI, ADI and CMAS and offers overseas scuba diving trips to the Maldives, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Located in the east of Asia and spanning almost 6 million square miles, the People’s Republic of China is the world’s third biggest country. On land, China has borders with an impressive 14 countries: India, Pakistan, Korea, Russia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Sikkim, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.
Topographically, China is a diverse and interesting place. Although more than 60% of the country is highland, there are also plains, hills, mountains and basins. For tourists visiting China there is an endless number of natural sights to see including magnificent canyons, tropical rainforests, snow-capped mountains and deserts. The Himalayan mountain range and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are two of the most popular regions for tourists to visit.
China boasts a fascinating history and more than 56 ethnic groups which make it an excellent place to visit for those interested in culture and history. The top choices to explore history and culture include the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors, as well as the many regional activities or folk pageants. Visitors can also opt to take a river cruise to Potala Palace, a holy palace located on the Yangtze River with magnificent views of Mount Everest.
Due to China’s size, its climate is continental – tropical and subtropical climates in the south and frigid climates in the north.
While the language-barrier between Mandarin, Cantonese and English can make visiting China more of a challenge, it is becoming more common for English to be understood and spoken in the highly popular tourist areas.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our China travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!