Just a kilometre or so off the east coast of Hainan lies a small rocky island named Boundary Island (FenjieZhou). It is named so for its location on the border between two climates, two different cultures and two administrative regions. The island, in its entirety, serves as a tourist attraction. Covered in an array of activities catering to the needs of the more adventurous Chinese tourist.
Like most tourist attractions, I’ve visited in China, the island has been wholly commercialised. It’s littered with shops, restaurants and other attractions, including a recently constructed temple. Contrary to many other places, though, the architecture supplements the island’s natural beauty and creates a rather charming look.
There’s also a peculiar legend regarding the island’s creation. I can’t remember the inscribed legend in full, but I’m going to try my best to fill in the blanks. That is indeed what legends are all about, right? So, here it goes.
Because of the islands torrential rains, it has numerous strong flowing rivers. The rivers wash silt and other debris into the ocean. Legend has it that during times of flooding it used to be much worse than it is now. This was of great concern to the king of the sea, who couldn’t bear to see his home polluted. Fearing that the pollution would increase over time and eventually destroy the ocean and all its creatures, the king of the sea complained to the king of the heavens.
The king of the heavens’ solution was to divert the flow of the Lingshui river, which seemed to be the biggest culprit. In order to achieve this, he broke off a piece of the Five-Finger mountain, at the river’s origin, using his mythical axe. By splitting the mountain the king of the sea changed the river’s course. He then used cattle to drag the piece of the mountain towards the sea. The cattle dragged the mountain for three days until they were utterly exhausted. Finally, when they could go no further, they collapsed and left the mountain in the ocean. To this day it still resides where it was left, now acting as a boundary between climates, cultures and governmental regions.
Although Boundary Island isn’t even half a square kilometre, the tiny island has a big heart. There are countless activities to keep you busy throughout the day. Just keep in mind that watersports aren’t quite as popular in China as they are in South Africa. This means that activities can be highly regulated for safety reasons.
One of the island’s greatest attractions is its PADI diving centre. The centre offers access to two diving spots. The first spot is close to shore and can be accessed from the island. The second is a little further out and you need to take a boat, although it’s still almost swimming distance from the shore. As can be expected you will have to pay to rent gear and use their facilities.
If you instead fancy a swim, you can always go to the islands beach and swimming area. There are no hidden costs and it can provide you with an escape from the summer heat. However, you are restricted to waist deep water and the relentless whistles of numerous lifeguards.
Still not satisfied? Well, you can always climb the 500+ steps to The Joyful Temple. It’s located on the island’s highest point and offers brilliant views of the surrounding seas. Although it is a modern temple, it still boasts great craftsmanship and a cluster of strange but beautiful structures.
If all of this just sounds a bit too much for a holiday and you just want to relax, there are more than enough kick-your-shoes-off activities for you to indulge in. You can chill at the beach, get spoiled at some restaurant or just have a picknick at one of the designated spots. On top of that, you also have the option to go to the aquarium and watch a number of shows. Apparently, the island’s aquarium is quite famous and the biggest of its kind in China.
Boundary Island is by no means the zenith of island getaways, but it is a decent place to visit if you find yourself in the vicinity. The island is an interesting visit and brilliantly beautiful, but to be brutally honest, it’s in no way a standalone destination. To us, it was a worthwhile escape from the mirror flat sea that plagued Riyue Bay during our surf trip. So, unless you’re aching to go diving, I wouldn’t mark Boundary Island as anything more than a stop along the way.
List of Activities on Boundary Island
- Scuba Diving.
- Banana Boat Waterskiing.
- Aquarium with shows.
- Shopping (mostly just tourist shops).
- Submarine Rides.
For more information, you can check out TravelChinaGuide.
How Do I Get There?
Boundary Island can be accessed quite conveniently via multiple free shuttle buses. However, the best way to get there is through a combination of public transportation.
The easiest and cheapest way to reach the island is to take a high-speed train to Lingshui, from where you can take a free shuttle bus. The bus departs from Lingshui’s train station and takes about 20 minutes to reach its destination. Once there, the ferry ride and access to the island will set you back about 128 – 138 RMB per person, depending on the time of year.
There is also a free shuttle bus from Sanya. This bus will take a while longer than the train, but at least it’s budget-friendly. Although, a train ticket from Sanya to Lingshui only costs 23 RMB, which isn’t exactly unkind to one’s wallet. In addition, the train ride is only about 20 minutes compared to the 2 hours on the bus. In retrospect, it seems to be a fairly obvious decision to make.
Below is the shuttle bus schedule, as it was in September 2017.