WATCH: Penguins, Belugas, Fun & Food at Ocean Flower Island

By Vanessa Jencks, December 29, 2021

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Back in November, my family and I got the opportunity to go to Ocean Flower Island. It was an awesome trip that my children keep mentioning and asking about when we can go back, more than a month later. I’ve been given a bit of a tip that there’s going to be an awesome fireworks display on December 31 for New Year’s Eve along with lots of other activities. Of course Chinese New Year will be a blast.

Watch the highlights below (VPN on):


Key points not to miss, which I’ll talk about below, are their Culinary Streets, Ocean World and jet ski ride providers. I’ll also give a few tips for making the most of your trip to Ocean Flower Island.

I do need to give a disclaimer that the entire trip for our family was free. We were invited by the management at Adrian Quetglas China (see the review of the restaurant here) to come out and explore everything the island had to offer. They pitched in with the Korean restaurant owner and the Ocean Flower marketing team to put together and awesome, memorable trip for our family. We were really blown away by the hospitality but that means this might not be the exact same experience that other people are going to experience when they come here since we really felt like VIP.

Everything also seems better and tastes better when it’s a gift, and I especially stress out on trips when I think of how much something will cost.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Still there were things that those planning the trip couldn’t control, like how warm and welcoming even the most ‘grunt worker’ was to us. Grounds people and cleaning maids welcomed us warmly, smiling and waving at us when they saw us. That aspect of hospitality reminded us of what it’s like to be on a cruise ship, with every staff member being polite and joyful.

Getting There

We started our trip out to Ocean Flower Island late one Friday night and it took us four hours to get there from Sanya, mostly because we stopped here or there to grab snacks. The entry to the island was a bit confusing to us at night due to construction, but with time we’re sure that will clear up.

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Here I want to give thanks to our car sponsor, who made it possible for us to travel there and back. We've rented a car from Qiqi several times now and we really appreciate her support of That’s Sanya. She's a very sweet small business owner and we really recommend her.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Checking In to Castle Hotel

When we finally got to the island, a staff member picked us up from the car park with a cart. I'm assuming that the hours for the shuttle are limited and usually don't stop there at 2am. Once we got to the Castle Hotel, (which usually hovers around RMB300 per night during off season and RMB398 right now), the check-in was smooth. This isn’t always the case for foreigners in lesser-known areas. They gave us wristbands as breakfast tickets and then a hotel associate showed us to our rooms.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

The hotel we stayed in was geared towards business people who want to save money or families with children, especially younger children, because the hotel has this appearance of a castle from the Nutcracker or out of Frozen.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

There are four different themes: artic, ocean, desert and forest. If you get the chance to pick the theme, I definitely recommend the desert theme as it looked to be the most put together and opulent rather than having a Chinese kindergarten feel. I couldn’t help but giggle about the painted scenes in the artic area, but for kids going to kindergarten, they’re going to be so excited to be there, especially to sleep in the little train in their parent’s room.

There were several places to explore in the Castle Hotel, including a toy store and a few rooms dedicated to smaller children with attendants on staff. My daughter liked taking pictures with the staff dressed in princess gowns, and if we had known, I would have had her wear her own dress as she’s quickly leaving that stage of adolescence.

No fear if you don’t want to stay in a kid-centered hotel, as the Hilton also just opened, which is another though pricier option for stay.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Castle Hotel Food

I would pick to stay in the Castle Hotel if I were using my own money, but mostly because the breakfast brunch is so generous. The chefs actually crisped the bacon, and I think over those two days my family ate their weight in bacon strips. They could improve on the cups offered for coffee and the machines were having trouble keeping up with the demand for caffeine. Otherwise we really enjoyed the waffles, qingbuliang and other plethora of breakfast options available.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Ocean World Park

My family could have spent hours in the Ocean World Park. My husband played with the belugas by sticking out his hands to twirl, making really huge motions as he walked across the floor in front of the glass. The belugas followed him and watched him. We stood there for at least half an hour as he played with them and interacted. I think that experience alone made the trip memorable for him, as he’s a huge lover of the ocean’s nature.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Our whole family loved watching the penguins, and we got a chance to see the staff feeding them. They dipped and dived into the water and played around while catching their lunch.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

There's so much wildlife to see at Ocean World. We ended up spending a much greater amount of time here than what was initially allotted because we were having such a good time.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

They also have an interactive ‘submarine’ ride that will be enjoyable for Chinese-speakers. Our kids were able to enjoy it even at their levels of Chinese.

Ocean World Park is open every day, 10am-6pm.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Jet Ski Ride Providers

After we went to Ocean Word we stopped by briefly for a view of the beach and ended up getting to experience the different water activities of their adrenaline jet ski ride providers. I'm not usually excited by this type of activity as I grew up going to the lake, wakeboarding and riding on a jet ski since I was around six or seven years old. Even with that childhood, I think that the drivers here did a really great job. They're professional and they succeeding in scaring me. I was most scared during the water dragon flight experience, as they got so high in the air. I squealed in fear a lot, but my husband and kids pretended like it wasn’t that scary.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

We all took a ride on a jet ski and it seemed like their job was to almost flip us off of the jet ski. They did a good job keeping us all safe and coordinating to zip and zag among one another. That was fun for everyone, and so was the splash boat, where we sat together as a family and had water splash all over us when they turned 360 degrees or more.

I would say that if you’re going to try jet skis in Hainan, pick to do them at Ocean Flower Island because they had packages that were much more affordable than what I’ve seen in Sanya. Their value packages start around RMB200 while in Sanya you'll pay RMB200 for just ten minutes on a jet ski during high season.

High Class Korean Sit-down Restaurant

I've only had a small amount of Korean food, and so my experience with the Korean restaurant CHILRYANG was an introduction in the same way that trying Spanish food was a new culinary experience to me. I've had Korean barbecue but I tended to lean towards meat dishes and not so much different dishes that are available from Korean food. I was surprised by the diversity of what's available. We were fortunate enough to get to eat with the owner, who is such a kind younger man, and his mother also works with him there. So it's cool to know that we were dining at an authentically Korean restaurant run by a family.

Below was my favorite dish. This reminded me of Peking duck wraps in Beijing, but it has a lighter, pickled kind of flavor without the tinge of greasiness characteristic of duck meat flakes.


Image via Dianping

My children enjoyed this, which of course is understandable considering it's similar to the same dish throughout China.


Image via Dianping

And my husband really loved this.


Image via Dianping

If you want you can actually dress up in traditional Korean clothes, and they sanitize them after you try them on. They’re sanitized in large clothing closet cubes imported from South Korea.

CHILRYANG (韩定食七良)

Daily, 11am-11pm. Southeast of Ocean Flower Island's Cultural Museum in the Culinary Streets. Dianping has a video in how to get there and That's Sanya WeChat account has a location pin. Follow us to get it.



Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Culinary Street

Culinary Street is full of different food traditions, and the options available here are diverse enough that you could spend a couple of weekends away from Haikou or Sanya just trying all of the different food options. The way I can describe the different food streets is like a tourist-converted hutong in terms of jovial attitude and meandering spirits, but cleaner and more international.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

The gelato shops are owned by a man who actually studied in Italy, and Carlo, our host from Italy, testified to how delicious and authentic it is. I want to give special mention to the Cantonese restaurant we enjoyed right next to the Su Dong Po museum (Su Dong Po was banished to Hainan but still used his knowledge and skills to lift up the people of Hainan by establishing schools and other helpful institutions). I’m no Cantonese food expert, but I enjoyed the display of food and the flavors.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

Five World Spa

The grounds dedicated to the different themed spas are sprawling, and it’s easy to find one little pool just for you and your friends. To be honest, I'm not really big into spas, but even I enjoyed myself. I think spas get the reputation of being kind of stuffy and for old people, but there were water jets that gave me a thorough massage I wasn’t expecting. My kids also had a lot of fun at the spa and it wasn’t an uptight atmosphere at all. My family found a large pool where they got into boats and had a water battle with one another while I worked just a bit.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

My husband and I found that the spa was really romantic and beautiful just after sunset. People also cleared out right after the sun went down, no doubt to head out to find something to eat, and so we suggest right around that time if you want more privacy.


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

The Spa is open daily 3-11pm. With entry you’ll get a locker, towel, shoes and acces to the showers.

Tips

I would say that the downside of Ocean Flower Island is transportation within the resort. They mentioned to us honestly that this is the biggest complaint that they get from guests. Their team is actively trying to find solutions to this problem. So I would actually suggest that either you plan more days to explore or that you invest in a personal buggy for the day so you can zoom all over the island. If you find the cost for the day to be too much, you could come to the resort with a group and you all split the cost together. Otherwise you’re going to be walking and waiting a lot.

The water park is closed during winter season, as the west part of Hainan is a bit cooler than Sanya. If you want to avoid crowds, going before April will be a good idea. Our family is going to go back in May, as our children really want to experience both the water park and the amusement park.

The water park is open May to October from 11am to 6pm.

202112/WechatIMG372.jpegImage courtesy of Ocean Flower Island


Image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

202112/WechatIMG382.jpegImage courtesy of Ocean Flower Island

I’d suggest following them on WeChat (Official account: 海花岛旅游度假区) or checking Dianping for deals. You could also keep an eye on our events section as we do publish events information from their restaurant owners.

Ocean Flower Island
Daily, times for each section vary. Ocean Flower Island, Binhai New District, Danzhou.

READ MORE: 50 Fun Things You Can Do In Sanya on Holiday

[Cover image courtesy of Ocean Flower Island]



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