Naozhou Island is a fairly small rocky island (10 km long by 6 km across). It is located near the southeastern tip of the larger Donghai Island, from which it is separated by a 3.5-km-wide straight (the Naozhou Channel, 硇州水道). It is 79 km north of Hainan's northernmost point.
Naozhou is a bit like a miniature version of Hainan, with just one of everything: one town, one ferry line, one scenic beach, one historic lighthouse, snd one sea turtle sanctuary. You can visit its main sights in just a day (although visiting it on a day trip from Zhanjiang may be rather arduous), or bring a bicycle and spend a few days exploring it out of the way corners.
During 1899-1945, Naozhou Island was part of the French leased territory Guangzhouwan (whose "capital" was in today's downtown Zhanjiang). French maps and documents referred to the island as Nao-Tchéo or Nau-Chau. The French had a lighthouse constructed near the island's highest point, helping ships find their way to Zhanjiang's harbor. The lighthouse, a historic site now, is still the island's main landmark.
Administratively, the island is organized as Naozhou Town (硇洲镇) within Mazhang District of Zhanjiang City. The town sits on the island's west coast; it has a ferry terminal for ferries to the nearby Donghai Island (which, in its turn, is connected to the mainland by a bridge), a busy market district, and a few hotels.
The island's rocky coast is lined with fishing villages. Many of them have aquaculture ponds as well, raising primarily shrimp.
The interior of the island is mostly agricultural. Bananas are a very common crop here. A bit more exotic are the plantations of the Hylocereus cactus, cultivated for its tasty fruit, known as the dragon fruit (火龙果). If you enjoy tending to a cactus in your living room at home, you may enjoy seeing large cactus fields of Naozhou, with its exotic-looking fruit and flowers. (This contributor is not aware of the exacting blooming and fruiting seasons, but at the end of November you can see plenty of fruit and some very last flowers. So the cactus probably blooms in fall, and the fruit are harvested in winter). Orchards of the green jujube (青枣), a green plum-like fruit popular in China, can be seen in Naozhou as well.
To get to Naozhou, you need to first take a bus from Zhanjiang or Leizhou to the Dongnan Harbor (东南港) at the southeastern corner of Donghai Island. From Dongnan Harbor, fairly frequent (at least hourly) service operates to Naozhou Town.
1 Naozhou ferry terminal. There are actually two ferry lines - a slower one for vehicles (foot passengers and bicycles are welcome too) and a faster one for passengers (one can take a bicycle on this ferry as well, with a bit of physical effort). The two docks are within 100 m from each other. The ferries run from 07:00 to a bit after 17:00. The one-way fare is ¥11-16, depending on the vessel you are in.
The public transport on the island is limited to three-wheeled mini-taxis, which take you from Naozhou town to anywhere in the island for ¥20 (as of 2018).
If you have brought a bicycle, riding on the island roads is fairly pleasant.
- 1 Naozhou Lighthouse (硇州灯塔). Free.
- 2 Sea Turtle City (海龟城). The Sea Turtle City is advertised as a rehabilitation center for sea turtles, although it is not clear to this contributor how they got all those turtles, and when, if ever, any of them will be released back into the sea. Nonetheless, it is a good place to see those creatures. There is a shed with a few small indoor pools, as well as a large outdoor pool. To feed the giant chelonians, the management buys similarly giant winter melons (冬瓜); you will see a pile of them next to the office. Your admission fee includes a small bowl of thinly sliced winter melon. You can offer them to the denizens of the outdoor pool, and they will all come to the pool's edge to have their chance at a melon slice. Actually, the turtles seem to associate people with food, so even if you just stand by the pool edge, turtles probably will come to you anyway. 5 元.
- 1 Nayan Bay Beach (那晏湾海滩). Unlike the neighboring Donghai Island, the rocky Naozhou Island is not big on beaches. Although Google Maps shows stretches of sand here and there along the island's shores, many of them have in reality been converted to fishing boat harbors or aquaculture ponds, by means of a liberal addition of concrete. The pretty Nayan Bay Beach is one of the few "official" beaches preserved on the island... and even there, at least in winter, you'll see a "no swimming" sign. The ¥5 admission family is collected by a peasant family living at the entrance to the beach. ¥5.
The island has one main shopping area, occupying several blocks in Naozhou Town around the local 1 market. .
Check out local fruits. Bananas and dragon fruit (火龙果) are abundantly produced in the island; local green jujubes (青枣) and passion fruit (百香果) are available in the market as well.
The streets in the main shopping area of Naozhou Town (around the market) is full of breakfast places; there are some restaurants open through the day, but as markets and shop start closing around 18:00, so are the eateries.
There are a few hotels (from ¥100) in Naozhou Town, and some AirBNB properties throughout the island.