While far from what you could call a booming surf destination in 2012, one must admit that China is starting to make one hell of a case. Last January, the ASP landed in Riyuewan, Wanning, to debut the Hainan Classic and found absolutely firing conditions.

But long before Glenn Hall scalped that critical 4-star win, Surfline’s own late, great guiding light Sean Collins performed an in-depth study on China’s surf potential — and more specifically, Hainan Island — and found that, statistically, the area sees its best surf from mid-November through December. Enter this month’s extremely exotic Best Bet.
 
Part of the Hainan province, Hainan Island is separated from the mainland by the Qiongzhou Strait, open to the Pacific to the east via the Luzon Strait that separates Taiwan to the north from the Philippine Island of Luzon to the south.
 
With a total land area of 3.7 million square miles and 9000 miles of coastline (tenth longest coastline in the world; the U.S. has the eighth longest) and a population of over 1.3 billion people, the South China Sea’s prime spots can actually be quite accommodating for traveling audiences deferring trips to Hawaii, the Caribbean or any of the other typical wintertime surf locales picking up the fury of Pacific and Atlantic winter storms.
 
This time of year sees consistent E-NE swell set up by flow around the Asian Monsoon. These winds blow over long distances between Taiwan and the Philippine Islands, and conditions are generally good for Hainan Island’s Riyue/ Shemei Bay area, the focal point of Sean’s study. The main flow of monsoonal NE winds is onshore over the northern section of the island, while a wedge of mountains forces the winds down coastal valleys, turning the flow offshore over surf spots in these areas — an ideal setup.
 
These factors alone often result in wave heights that are consistently in the overhead range throughout the month of December. But there is always the possibility of a typhoon tracking into the South China Sea as a source of swell during this time frame.

In fact, we are watching a situation like this unfold over these first several days of December. Super Typhoon Bopha will impact the Philippines before tracking NW into the South China Sea around the 5th and 6th as a major storm. The track should be favorable for swell generation towards Hainan Island, and this pattern looks to produce a consistent run of surf through the next couple weeks.

Even further out, long-range guidance suggests continued significant swell events well into the back half of the month. The climate is subtropical in the winter, tropical during the summer. Water temperatures are generally warm, averaging from around the mid 70s to low 80s (Fahrenheit). Wetsuits are recommended during the winter months due to wind chill from the offshore winds. Air temperatures are also moderate with the daily average around 72 degrees.

So let’s count ’em up, shall we? 1) Overhead surf; 2) Highly consistent; 3) Offshore winds; and 4) Good enough for the ASP to hold a major, $95,000 competition. We’re not saying that one should bail their Puerto Rico plans or go AWOL from the North Shore immediately, but any surf traveler feeling a bit adventurous and looking for something truly unique could do far worse than Hainan Island in December.
 
SOURCE: surfline.com
 
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