Sandy beaches, palm trees, and surf shacks aren’t usually what comes to mind when thinking about China. And until Covid-19, the surf scene on the South China island province of Hainan was a quiet one, attracting only a handful of tourists, while diehard Chinese surfers were more interested in the better swells off the coasts of Southeast Asia.
However, as China’s borders locked down over the last year and a half, surf and beach culture started coming home, finding a place along the coastline of Hainan. Get a taste of the action in these stunning images:
With borders essentially closed in China, Hainan is seeing a shift in its visitors, from local families looking for a resort destination to young and trendy Chinese influencers and more determined surfers
It wasn’t long before tourism started creeping up the coast of Hainan, from the ever-popular tourist trap of Sanya to less crowded beaches and more serious surf spots like Wanning
Houhai has quickly become a hotspot for beginner surfers and domestic tourists looking to find a cheap and active holiday spot outside of Sanya’s pricy resorts
With the upswing of beach tourism, nightlife has swelled, from bars to noodle joints
Budding surfers started staying longer and longer, taking up part-time jobs and shrugging off the stressful overtime-obsessed lives in cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing
As more surfers stayed, more began to embrace the ethos of surfing
Surf shacks like Shaka have seen a rush of guests and applicants to become surf instructors
There has also been a push in sports schools along the east coast of the island province to move young athletes from water sports like diving into surfing
There are plenty of young surfers with serious skills finding their place amongst the waves in Hainan and seeking a shot at becoming pro
Surfing isn’t just a passing trend for the island, but here to stay
All images courtesy of Graeme Kennedy
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