Weizhou Island is located in the middle of Beibu Gulf, a 60-minute drive from Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. As China’s largest and youngest volcanic island, Weizhou Island is a showroom for nature’s craftsmanship. It is also known as one of the ten most beautiful islands in China.
The island extends for 6.5 kilometers from south to north and 6 kilometers from east to west. Once-molten lava frozen by time thousands of years ago has been put in the hands of the sea, the waves sculpting it into caverns, pillars and terraces and the sinewy shapes of petrified plants and animals. A 3-meter-tall, 6-meter-wide mushroom stands near Xigang wharf and there are a turtle, seal, manatee and whale, to name just a few of the marine creatures that turn the bay at the south end of the island into a marvelous stone menagerie.
Besides the beautiful scenery onshore, divers can enjoy the underwater kaleidoscope of China’s own “Barrier Reef”, as the offshore marine areas are perfect cradles for coral. Shiluokou Beach on the west side of Weizhou is probably the best beach for diving on the island. The undersea volcanic rocks will also delight divers, and colorful fish will play hide-and-seek among the holes in the rocks.
Weizhou Island is also known for its breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Sesame Beach, which got its name because it looks like it’s covered with shimmering sesame seeds, is the place to go to watch the sunrise. The best place to appreciate the sunset is Drippy Rock beach, where vegetation cascades down a 10-meter high rock face.
A French-style Catholic church is a must-see attraction, which has stood on the island for about 150 years. Built by French priests in 1869, it took 10 years to finish and it used to have affiliated buildings, such as a monastery, a school, a hospital and an orphanage. What’s unusual about the church is the material it used. Volcanic rocks and coral are held together by traditional cement made from sticky rice, brown sugar and egg white. The church’s extraordinary walls and resonating bell testify to its history. This church is still in use today and it is packed with worshippers on weekends.
You are strongly recommended to stay overnight at a family inn, as the hospitable hosts can take you out sea fishing, or show you where to pick up oysters when the tide goes out or how to catch crabs on the beach at night. Besides seafood, jackfruit and bananas are also tasty and plentiful on the island.
From Weizhou Island you can see Xieyang Island, which is covered with acacias and cactus flowers. It takes about 30 minutes to reach and offers an even quieter experience, as there are no restaurants or hotels. You can explore the Ox Nose Cave in the north, or stroll down the eastern beach to appreciate the bizarre knots formed by marine abrasion.
IF YOU GO
Take a coach from Jiangnan Bus Station or Langdong Bus Station in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to Beihai, which takes about 3 hours. Ferries are available between Beihai International Ferry Terminal and Weizhou Island, departing from the terminal at 08:30am, 11:00am and 16:00pm. A single trip costs 120 yuan ($20) or 180yuan, depending on the class of cabin you choose. The journey takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. During extreme weather conditions, the ferries do no run.
Tricycles, minibuses and bicycles are the main transportation on the island. It costs 500 yuan to 600 yuan to charter a speed-boat, which can carry about 10 people, to travel from Weizhou Island to Xieyang Island.