Find Paradise in South China at Zhuhai's Miaowan Island

By Tristin Zhang, September 14, 2018

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Daytripper is a regular column that aims to help people get the most out of their PRD experience by proposing fun excursions that can be made in a single day to explore the local culture and nature of the region.

Take a one-hour fast train from Guangzhou, followed by an hour-long, swaying ferry ride and another heart-pounding hour on a speed boat and you’ll find yourself on the scenic island of Miaowan, which translates roughly to ‘temple bay.’ 

Resting to the southeast of Macau, and about 25 nautical miles from Hong Kong, Miaowan Island is a small plot of land in the South China Sea that is renowned for its pristine beaches and azure water. Under the administrative control of Zhuhai (a city rightly known as the ‘city with a hundred islands’), the island has attracted mainlanders over the past decade looking to escape the craziness of urban life for a secluded retreat. Deserved or not, Miaowan’s plentiful natural resources have earned it the moniker ‘China’s Maldives.’ 

miaowan-island-4.jpgImage by Tristin Zhang/That's

There to capitalize on the island’s marine goodies is a small population of Cantonese-speaking fisherman (roughly two dozen households). Small businesses are run by the local population in Maiowan Village, which sits on a rock outcrop that is connected to the main island via a concrete bridge. Amid the barking of dogs and the whistle of seagulls, villagers set up their metal-mesh fish traps, using a mixture of bread, shrimp and fish, on the quay. 

miaowan-1.jpgImage by Tristin Zhang/That's

Near the shoreline, a beacon built in 1884 by the British draws the attention of selfie snapping tourists. The sandy surface of the beach is littered with visitors and tents are pitched before the clear waters of the island, where swimming, snorkeling and sea urchin scavenging are all underway. 

Fishing is allowed on Miaowan Island and the coral reefs off the coast are home to an array of tropical fish species. If you don’t have cooking equipment to cook your catch, restaurants run by hospitable islanders will prepare your seafood for a reasonable price. 

Scuba diving courses are available and are run by a licensed dive instructor who moonlights as a server at a local restaurant. 

Paying RMB100-200 for a meal at one of the island’s eateries may seem steep, but it’s worth noting that some of South China’s freshest and cleanest seafood is served here – and it’s well worth a sample. In addition to food, restaurants also rent out tents at RMB150 per night.

miaowan-island-5.jpgImage by Tristin Zhang/That's

Hostels with air con-equipped rooms range from RMB200-300, though electricity is only generated at night and a cool, fresh water shower will cost you an additional RMB10. 

It’s recommended to visit the island in September or October, when the threat of typhoons diminishes. Remember to bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent and trash bags. Also, perhaps most importantly, cell phone service here is nonexistent, so prepare for a social media detox.  

How to get there:

From Guangzhou: Take a fast train Guangzhou South to Zhuhai Station. Once you arrive in Zhuhai, you’ll need to take a ferry from Xiangzhou Port or Hengqin Port to Dongao Island, from which you’ll transfer to a speed boat for the remaining leg of the journey to Miaowan. 

From Shenzhen: Ferries to Dongao Island, a transfer point en route to Miaowan, are available at Shekou Port in Shenzhen. 

*Book a two-day trip to Miaowan Island in advance on (0756-860 9991). 

For more Daytripper click here

[Cover image via Tristin Zhang/That's]

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