West Island Fishing Village: A Simple Philosophy

By David Janke / HICN / Updated: 22:26,09-July-2022

West Island is located in the center of Sanya Bay in China’s tropical coastal city of Sanya. This sleepy islet, with a total land area of just 2.68 square kilometers, is home to around 6,000 inhabitants who for generations have made a living from fishing.

The east and west sides of the islands have completely different vibes. On the east side, visitors can explore the hustle and bustle of the tourist area. On the west side is the quieter fishing village which was settled over 400 years ago, and whose modern-day inhabitants retain the age-old daily circadian rhythms of their ancestors.  

The village's narrow streets all lead towards the azure blue of the ocean waves.

What will you discover on your whistle-stop tour of the village?

The damp ocean breezes gently caress the faces of these simple fisherfolk.

Island visitors capturing precious moments before they slip away.

As evening draws in, young and old relax and play under the branches of coconut trees and on the beach.

You can’t pass through the village without sampling some local snacks.

Fragrant and chewy coconut cakes

Dainty yet dense Zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings)

According to one elderly resident, cactus and fish soup is the most authentic West Island dish.

Apart from cuisine, another way to learn more about local culture is by observing local architecture. Due to its long history of fishing, village houses used to be built from coral sourced from nearby waters. Nowadays, one can still see coral elements in the structure of local buildings.


The West Island Cultural Innovation Center is a crossroads where the past, present and future of this island meet. The center was once home to generations of one fishing family, and its exterior walls are fashioned from coral. Now, it has been restored, incorporating innovative artistic design elements.

Beyond the coral houses of old and the blend of new and old found at the cultural innovation center, there are also a number of new purpose-built guesthouses on the island.

With its smooth road surfaces and clean streets, West Island has become a top tourist destination where potholes and grime are a thing of the past.

Yet, what remains of the past is the simplicity and honesty of the island’s locals, whose secret to happiness is derived from being content with what one has. It is precisely this simple philosophy that has allowed the fishing village to retain its ancient charm.

(Photos source: “精美天涯”)

Location: Tianya District, Sanya, Hainan 



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