Weizhou (涠洲岛; Wéizhōu Dǎo) is China's biggest and youngest volcanic island. It is located 21 nautical miles south of Beihai city in the Gulf of Tonkin, an arm of the South China Sea. With about 6km from north to south and 5km from east to west, the island covers a land area of about 25km².
Weizhou Island is declared as national park. The admission fee is ¥120 (¥65 in winter's off-season) and must be paid while entering the island at the harbour (XiJiao MaTou). The entrance ticket covers the whole island and is valid for the entire stay.
Formed by volcanic eruptions about 7,000 years ago Weizhou Island has a unique geological and geomorphologic landscape. The sea around Weizhou is rich in corals and other aquatic animals. Its subtropical monsoon climate with an average annual temperature of 22.6°C and an annual average rainfall of about 1380mm causes moderate summers and mild winters.
Except for Chinese national holidays Weizhou Island is not heavily touristed. Chinese tourists come here on daily trips and over weekends, but rarely stay longer. The island offers various scenic spots, a Gothic-style catholic cathedral, good and inexpensive seafood and wide beautiful beaches. It is ideal for relaxing and having a rest. Even the nightlife on Weizhou is less revelry than having a good time in one of its bars located in South Bay (NanWan) or a nice BBQ while enjoying the summer breeze from the sea.
If you travel with foreign bank cards, bring enough cash for your entire stay on the island. The only ATM on the island (in NanWan) will accept Chinese bank cards only and the local bank branch does not exchange foreign money either.
When planning a trip to Weizhou the weather forecast should be checked in advance. During heavy sea Weizhou Island can neither be reached nor left due to no ferries driving.
English is not widespread on Weizhou. As English is a school subject younger local people and children will be pleased to have a little English chat with foreign visitors. The dialect on Weizhou differs greatly from northern China's Mandarin. However, there are quite a lot of people who speak Mandarin, too.
Ferries to Weizhou depart daily from Beihai International Passenger Terminal (北海国际客运港) scheduled at 8:30AM, 12:00 AM and 3:30PM at take between 60 and 90 min. First class ¥180/trip. Second class ¥150/trip. In tourist season there may be more ferries, and during heavy sea, none. Check local sources for an updated schedule. The ticket counter closes 15 minutes before departure, and due to possible lengthy ticket queues it is advisable to arrive with plenty of time to spare.
The island has an impressive fleet of motor tricycles (¥5-30 per trip, ¥100 to hire for the day). The tricycle drivers rarely speak English. For exploring the island on one's own, motor scooters (¥120/day) and e-bikes (¥80/day) can be rented as well, whereas bicycles can no more be rented on the island, despite some neat bike tracks at the newly constructed island ring road. The deposit for renting is between ¥200 and ¥300. The renting prices may rise during Chinese national holidays.
- 1 Crocodile Hill (鳄鱼山景区; ÈYúShānJǐngQū). This scenic spot is located in the Volcanic Park in the west of South Bay. Crocodile Hill can be reached either by walking or by taking a shuttle bus leaving at the Volcanic Geological Museum (¥20/trip). Tricycle drivers, motor cycles and bicycles are not allowed to enter the Volcanic Park. The island's entrance ticket must be shown to enter Crocodile Hill. Crocodile Hill has a round walk partially on wooden steps and planks that starts and ends at Crocodile Pharos and passes by the Seaview Pavillon, the Statue of Tang Xianzu, a volcanic vent, the Marine Pit, Canggui Cave, the Pirate Cave (Zeilao Cave), the sea arch, the Moon Bay, the Fall-In-Love-On-Weizhou-Island spot, coral sedimentary rocks, the Lover Bridge, the Moon Plaza, and the Sea Pier as well as craters and tree fossils.
- Shiluokou (石螺口景区; ShīLuòKǒuJǐngQū). Shiluokou is located at the western coast of Weizhou Island. Its long sand beach, the clear water and its coral reefs made it the most famous beach on Weizhou. On its managed beach are deck chairs, cold beverages, seafood BBQ and water sports available.
- Multicolored/Colorful Beach (五彩滩景区; WǔCàiTānJǐngQū). In low tide's sunrises this volcanic stone beach located at the east coast of Weizhou Island offers a breathtaking view when the sun is dazzling reflecting on the wave cut wet stone surface.
- 2 Catholic Cathedral, Shèngtáng. The Catholic Cathedral in the middle of Shengtang Village was built over a decade in 1853 by French missionaries. It is made of coral sedimentary rocks from the sea bottom and built in neo-Gothic style.
- Saint Maria Church. The Saint Maria Church is a small Gothic-style Catholic Church located in Chengzai village. It is less famous than the Catholic Cathedral but still opens its doors for Sunday Mass.
- 3 Sanpo Temple. Sanpo Temple in Weizhou's South Bay is also known as Tianhou Temple. After it collapsed due to landslides it was rebuilt a few years ago. The former temple was built in 1732 to chase away the evil and bring peace to the island. Local fisherman still come to the temple to pray for good luck, a good catch and a safe home coming from the sea.
- Coral Reefs. The sea around Weizhou Island is rich in corals. They can be seen in low tide periods, while diving or joining a tour with glass bottom boots in West Beach (Shiluokou).
- 4 Xieyang Island. Xieyang Island is a smaller island located 9 nautical miles to the southeast of Weizhou Island. Its total area is about 1.9 km². A small path leads from its north to its south. It is famous for its birdlife and peaceful atmosphere and home for a little more than 100 people. The passage from Weizhou to Xieyang is including backpassage between ¥750 to ¥1,200 a boat, which can be shared by up to 12 passengers.
- Banana Plantations. Beside seafood, bananas are the most important goods produced on Weizhou. Banana plantations can be found beside the roads all over the island. The very tastefully fresh small and sweet bananas just cost a few yuan for a kilo.
- 5 Drippy Rock (滴水丹屏; DīShuǐDānPíng). So named for a set of cliffs that drip water long after a downpour. Also the location of some nice beaches, and some on-beach eateries.
- Having fun on the beaches. Weizhou offers some of the best (and emptiest) beaches in China. However, because they don't have lifeguards, children and people unable to swim should not play in the sea unattended!
- Diving. With instructor. All the material is provided. 30 minutes for around ¥130. Booking at your living place, in South Bay or at Shiluokou.
- Sailing. The Piggy Bar Hostel in South Bay offers attended sailing on a small sports sailer.
- Hiking. Exploring Weizhou Island by foot is fun. And because it is not very big, it's almost impossible to get lost.
Weizhou Island offers a wide range of seafood, cheap and sweet little bananas and adornment made of shells and pearls. The biggest food, fruits and seafood market is located in Weizhou's South Bay (NanWan). A smaller market is located in Shengtang Village in front of the Catholic Cathedral. Small shops spread all around the island offer snacks, beverages and Chinese convenience products.
- 1 South Bay Seafood Market, South Bay Road (Walk along the main South Bay road past the bar area, it's hard to miss.). The island's main marketplace for seafood, with the largest range and lowest prices. Pick your selection, take it home and cook it up – or pay a fee at a restaurant and have them cook it for you. Other grocery items can be purchased in the surrounding shops, which offer the largest range of products on the island.
- 2 ATM, South Bay Road, close to the dockside of the market. Rural Agricultural Bank of China. This ATM does not accept international bank cards. China unionpay only.
- 3 ATM (On the north-west bound route from South Bay.). Rural Agricultural Bank of China's second ATM.
Smaller eateries and bigger restaurants are scattered all over the island. Weizhou is famous for its good and cheap seafood and its bananas. Seafood can be bought at South Bay's seafood market. Local eateries will prepare it for about ¥15-¥20 a dish. Other restaurants have their own selection of living sea animals that can be chosen by their guests and will be prepared in time. The seafood prices vary depending on the rareness of the seafood, the catch of the day and the weather conditions. Cheap (seafood) BBQ is available in daytime at West Beach (Shiluokou) and in the late evening at the dockside of South Bay's seafood market. Groups can also book goat BBQ.
In daytime, cold beverages are available in small shops all over the island. The most bars on Weizhou are located in its South Bay.
- As in other places in China, websites and apps like ctrip list accommodation for Weizhou.
- Hotels and smaller guest houses are scattered all over the island, but the majority is located at the South Bay and the village near the Shiluodi Beach, where you also find restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
- 1 ta july (七月), DīShuǐCūn No. 28 (滴水村28号) (Take a tuk tuk from the port for about ¥30, optionally pre-booked with management.), ☏ . Probably the only designer-architected hostel on the island – ta july (七月) took a traditional style large-brick Weizhou home, cut away a layer and re-imagined it with large glass panels, and a modern design while still highlighting the traditional construction. Coupled with reasonable prices, and a young (former backpacker) management team who cook a variety of local delicacies each night (which you can share – just let them know ahead of time, and chip in for your share of the raw ingredients), and you have a winner. 5min walk to the beach (with sunsets, when there's no smog from the mainland), and 25min walk to Crocodile Hill. Stay in a dorm for less than the price of a Chinese coffee, or rent one of their three private rooms, two with a sea-view balcony. ¥30 (dorm) – ¥250 (queen), breakfast ¥10.
Lodgings with Wi-Fi internet access are becoming increasingly prevalent on the island, so it shouldn't be hard to find one to stay at if you wish to stay connected during your trip.
- 1 China Post, South Bay (located in the streets behind the main marketplace.). Open daily: 09:00 to 12:00, 14:00 to 17:00.
Ferries from Weizhou to Beihai leave daily from the harbour (西角码头XiJiao MaTou) at 10:15AM, 2:30PM, 5:15PM. Tickets can be purchased up to one day in advance, check the local schedule for updated times. First class ¥180/trip. Second class ¥150/trip. In tourist season may be more ferries, during heavy sea none.