Life’s a beach in Shenzhen.
One of my favorite things about living in Shenzhen, and something visitors also find appealing, is its proximity to several beaches.
City vibes and a seaside retreat? Yes, please!
If you want to dip your toes in the water, come join me on a whistle-stop tour of what Shenzhen has to offer.
Before you visit the beaches in Shenzhen
China is a hugely populated country. Scenic spots, like the beaches in Shenzhen, will be crowded most weekends and during Chinese holidays.
If you visit the beach during these times, do expect traffic en route. If there isn’t much traffic, consider it a bonus!
You can generally rent sun umbrellas, chairs, tables and tents at most of the beaches I’m about to talk about.
Prices vary depending on the day, time, assortment of items you want to rent, and how the person renting them is feeling on that day.
Remember to check how long your rental is good for. If you keep them longer than your allotted time, you may be asked to pay more or forfeit your deposit.
Also, most beaches will have an entry fee. This also can vary depending on the time of year, or even day, you visit.
Once or twice, I’ve hit the jackpot and been waved through without paying. I didn’t question it, but I do always expect to pay no more than 50 RMB (about US$7) to enter a beach area.
And one more thing – none of the beaches in Shenzhen are in the heart of the city. But some are fairly close.
Dameisha and Xiaomeisha
Less than an hour away from Shenzhen, if traffic is kind, these are the closest beaches to Shenzhen. Naturally, they’re also the busiest.
As you head northeast from the city, through Yantian District and along the coast, you’ll first reach Dameisha, then the slightly smaller Xiaomeisha resort.
Showers (both hot and cold) and lockers are available for a small fee. The last time I visited, it was around 50 RMB (US$7) for a locker, but things change frequently here in China.
These are not the prettiest beaches, and are definitely not my favorite. The water is murky, but in a time crunch, they’ll do.
Both Dameisha and Xiaomeisha have roped-off areas for swimming. You can’t freely swim outside these areas. Think ‘human soup’ during peak beach hours.
You can also pay for banana boat rides or go parasailing. I’ve even seen flyboarding shows!
The beach areas are filled with BBQ restaurants offering all kinds of fishy delights, and slightly overpriced snack shops.
You’re allowed to bring your own food and drink, but glass is not allowed. At these beaches, they will usually have you place your bags in an airport-style scanner before you enter.
Given their proximity to the city, both Dameisha and Xiaomeisha have a tendency to get incredibly busy later in the day.
This is a small beach town which I have been to once or twice.
The beach at Nan’ao is nothing to get too excited about as it’s quite small. However, the area has plenty of nice villas which are perfect to rent out with a group of friends.
And, it’s only a bit more than an hour’s drive from Shenzhen.
Most villas will offer grill rental and coal for a small additional cost. Is there anything better than a BBQ after a long, hard day at the beach?
Nan’ao is quite far away from civilization, relatively speaking. I’d suggest either taking food with you or flipping a coin to decide which of your mates is taking a Didi (the Chinese version of Uber) to the nearest supermarket for barbecue supplies and extra beers.
The village area surrounding the beach doesn’t offer a whole lot. There are a handful of restaurants mainly offering seafood, and a couple of convenience stores with a few added beach essentials.
Nan’ao is not really a great option for a day trip. Honestly, this is simply due to the lack of amenities. No showers, no umbrella rentals, and not much in the way of food.
I think it’s better suited to local Chinese tourists with their own transportation or groups who have prepared in advance for a few days away.
However, if you have a couple of days and are looking for a change of pace and change of scenery, then Nan’ao is an option.
This small beach town only offers a thin strip of sand for you to enjoy. However, there are banana boats aplenty! Seriously, I’ve never seen so many.
The best way to get here is by taxi, and it should take you roughly an hour and a half from Shenzhen city center.
It’s another good area to rent out a place with friends, as long as having copious amounts of beach is not the sole purpose of your beach trip. Yep, I know that the logic in that is a little flawed.
If you were here for a few days, I recommend taking a Didi or taxi over to other beaches – such as Xichong or Dongchong – as they’re more relaxing.
In Jiaochangwei, you’ll find some KTV bars for evening entertainment and lots of barbecue restaurants offering plenty of seafood. Are you picking up on the BBQ and seafood theme yet?
You’re also just a short wander from Dapeng Fortress and its maze of alleyways filled with restaurants, tea shops and a little bit of history.
And did I mention banana boats? There are tons of them!
Xichong and Dongchong
These two Shenzhen beaches are slightly further out of the city. You’re usually looking at around two hours to get here by taxi.
And they’re my favorites!
Both of these beaches allow surfing in certain areas, and boards are available for rent. So, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you could even take a lesson or two.
If we’re defining the beaches by type, Xichong is the party beach.
I mean, other beaches do have parties but not with quite the same consistency as Xichong.
Many a weekend many an expat has spent their day on the beach, before beginning their night at Kickflip (a South African run bar and hostel) and then heading on to Moon Beach Club to dance the night away.
From Xichong Village, it’s only a short drive to the beach club. Local residents will usually offer to drive you there for around 50 RMB per car load. It’s not as dodgy as it sounds, I swear.
Sometimes you can negotiate and arrange to be picked up at the end of the night, but usually the walk back to the village is welcomed to help clear your head.
If you ask me, Dongchong is the prettiest beach in Shenzhen.
While it’s always packed near the entrance, you will usually find a vast amount of space to enjoy if you head left once you get onto the sand.
At the very end of this beach, there’s a small cave you can explore. It’s almost like a nature’s very own picture frame showcasing a nice view of the ocean.
To get to this viewpoint, it can be a bit rocky and hot on your feet. I like to take some pool shoes with me when I go exploring this part of the beach.
You can hike between Xichong and Dongchong. However, every time I’ve tried to do so it’s either been torrential rain or just way too hot.
This hiking route can be quite challenging so if you decide to check it out, ensure that you are prepared with decent shoes, plenty of water and, depending on the time of year, sunscreen and/or layers!
(You can check out this amazing China packing list so you don’t forget anything.)
From Dongchong, you can take an exhilarating (or terrifying) boat ride out to Sanmen Island.
The island is a disused military base where you can now camp – BYO tent – and barbecue during summer months. It’s always a lot of fun.
Don’t expect any luxuries. There’s one small village store where you can pay to shower if you wish. From here you can rent grills and charcoal too.
If you decide to explore the island further, you’ll find abandoned villas and the bare bones of hotels. Tourist projects started, but never completed.
If you’re well prepared with food and extra layers for night time, Sanmen Island is a great time!
I will warn you though, the beach can be a bit dirty. Often trash washes ashore which can be a little off-putting.
Technically, Huizhou is its own city.
However, these are the furthest beaches you could visit from Shenzhen while still staying in the general vicinity of the metropolis, so I threw it in for good measure.
You can take the train from Shenzhen to Huizhou, then your best bet is a taxi to your chosen beach. If you’re adventurous, you might even want to give the local buses a shot.
There are a few beaches to check out here. Xunliao Bay, Moon Bay Beach and Silver Beach are the most popular.
Huizhou is host to many beachfront hotels, villas and even beach camping. You can find a place to stay for a few nights for a very low price. Start by comparing prices on Trip, the best local hotel site.
Beach parties are frequently held in Huizhou with transportation to and from Shenzhen often included in the price of the ticket.
Best time to visit the beaches in Shenzhen
Shenzhen has a pretty warm climate for most of the year. There isn’t really a bad time to visit the beach, just layer up in the cooler months (around December to February).
Another thing to note is that in China, beaches will usually start getting busier later in the afternoon into the evening.
On the whole, people in China are quite cautious about the sun’s harmful rays and prefer to hit the sand once the sun is starting to set.
I prefer getting to the beach earlier, soaking up the sun all day and then leaving just as it starts to get packed.
Getting to Shenzhen’s beaches
From the city center, all the beaches can be reached by taxi or bus. Walking isn’t an option.
Unless you’re on a private tour, I recommend using your Chinese map app of choice to check the best public transit routes from the part of Shenzhen you’re staying in.
You’ll need a VPN (like one of these that are good for China) to access certain apps you’re used to. Remember to download and install the VPN before arriving in China to make your trip as smooth as possible.
It’s been mentioned before in other articles on The Helpful Panda (such as this one), but sometimes Chinese people will ask to take pictures with you.
I sometimes find this to be even more common at the beach, especially the beaches closer to the city.
If you can, remember that this request is probably from a place of curiosity. There’s usually no malice intended.
You can always decline their photo op.
Key takeaway about the best beaches in Shenzhen
China isn’t really known for its beaches, so depending on which parts of the world you’ve visited, the beaches in Shenzhen might actually disappoint you.
However, when a nation works as hard as they do in China, most are content with what’s on offer when it comes to time to relax.
I personally enjoy being able to get out of the concrete jungle every now and then to feel the sand between my toes.
Don’t expect Hawaii or the Gold Coast, but do expect sand, sea and, more often than not in Shenzhen, sun. After all, that’s all you really need at the beach, right?
I hope you liked my article about the best beaches in Shenzhen. If the beach isn’t for you, I’ve written about other things to do in Shenzhen for you too!
Main image credit: Supplied by Olivia Seaton-Hill.
FAQ about the beaches in Shenzhen
What are the closest beaches to Shenzhen?
Dameisha and Xiaomeisha are just under an hour away from Shenzhen by car, depending on traffic.
What are the best beaches in Shenzhen?
Although Dameisha and Xiaomeisha are the most popular (because they’re the closest), Xichong and Dongchong are the most beautiful beaches in Shenzhen.
Are there beaches in Shekou?
No, there are no public beaches in Shekou but there are still plenty of things to do in this district like shopping, dining, and hiking in the nearby mountains.
Is Shenzhen worth visiting?
Absolutely! As well as visiting the beaches in Shenzhen, you can do things like go shopping, go hiking in the mountains, climb Ping An Tower, explore the tourist area of Shekou, or even spend a day at Happy Valley theme park.