This week elite surfers are competing for the women's longboarding world title in Hainan.


The local government has been prioritizing international-standard competitions like the SWATCH Girls Pro in an attempt to develop the island's surfing industry.

Hainan island shares the same latitude as Hawaii. It has the same lush lines of palm trees and the same year-round balmy temperatures.


The Chinese government is playing up the resemblance and hopes to brand Hainan as a kind of "Chinese Waikiki".

Ten years ago, Caddie Lu created the island's first English-language travel website, Sunny Sanya.

Lu says until recently many people had no idea that China even had an island, but the government's efforts have drawn more international beach-goers.

Three years ago the Hainan government, actually it was a state-level decision, to make Hainan an international tourist island. So there are many privileged policies for this island. So the government is trying to promote Hainan as ancient Hawaii.

One of these privileged policies is the short-term visas that are handed out at the airport to tourists on holiday.

There are also a growing number of direct international flights and luxury resorts.

But perhaps the most creative way that the Hainan government is attracting tourists, is by attempting to turn the island into a surfer's paradise.

Chen Xingzhang, the minister of publicity in Wanning, has been at the forefront of the effort to market the island as China's first surfing destination.

Wanning has advanced surfing resources. And the successful experience in holding international surfing events has built a good fanbase. Since 2011, Wanning successfully held three consecutive events and brokered influence as the first high-quality surfing destination.

The government sponsors surf programs and works with the Association of Surfing Professionals and local clubs to promote the sport.

Dan Jordan of the ASP hopes to see more Chinese get serious about surfing.

Our ultimate goal is to one day hopefully we can see a Chinese surfer hold this trophy above their heads. And we're going to continue working until we achieve the dream of seeing more chinese surfers on the world tour, and hopefully one day being the world champion.

Many of the surfers who have discovered Hainan will tell you that the island is hiding some untouched world-class waves.

Clement Jetteau, one of the organizers of the SWATCH Girls Pro China, says Hainan's waves are surf-able all year long.

It's pretty amazing for longboard. A bit flat for shortboard, it needs to be a lot bigger. But for longboard it's world class waves. It's really like the Hawaii of China if we can say that.

Others doubt that the island will ever rival legendary surf scenes like Hawaii's North Shore or Australia's Bells Beach.

But the Hainan natives and expats who make up the island's fledgling surf scene just smile and say give it some more time, more surfers are going to discover these waves.



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