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  • Writer's pictureAnja

Pingtan - the windy island

A local saying goes, "Pingtan, Pingtan, where nothing grows but stone."

Well, that's not quite true. But it is true that the island is quite dry and sandy. The natural occurrence of granite on the island cannot be overlooked and gives the island a barren first impression. The locals use the stone to build houses and to separate their fields.

The roofs of the houses are covered with tiles. As an additional protection, a stone is placed on each tile to prevent the roof from being covered in strong winds. The vegetation consists mainly of robust plants and in between there are always man-made gardens or small fields. Overall, however, despite the dunes, rocks and sand, the island is not boring and barren, but very interesting and worth seeing.

The north-east trade wind blows here almost all year round. Only in the summer months does the wind turn to the south. Due to its geographical location, Pingtan lies in the East China Sea between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, and this also creates a jet effect, which often conjures up wind speeds of 30 knots or more.

At 29 km long and 19 km wide, Pingtan is about twice as big as Fehmarn. Only since 2010 has it been possible to reach the island via a bridge; before that it was only possible by ferry.

There are 4 kitespots on the island that work in north-easterly winds and 2 for southerly winds.

1. North Beach

Endless sandy beach. And depending on the tide, even more beach. In the first third, a small river flows into the sea. At high tide, the delta fills up and you can find a small freestyle corner here. The wind comes onshore without gusts and the waves run very sorted. There are a few wind turbines downwind. In the small village there are a few restaurants, cafés and accommodation. Parking is available, but there is no kite station. No showers or toilets either (except in the restaurants). Best time is 2-3 hours before peak, until about 1-2 hours after. Otherwise you have to walk very far.

2. Red Rock Beach

Red Rock Beach is a little hidden behind a ruined hotel. You drive into the abandoned construction site and park on the hotel grounds. The name "Red Rock" says it all: at the beach there is a stone wall made of red pebbles. At high tide, the water is at the front of the wall, so the paths are much shorter than on the northern beach. The wind comes in gusty over a spit of land at Sideon and the water is very choppy due to the small islands in the bay. There is a mobile kite station here from time to time, which rents out equipment from a truck and also provides training. However, I do not know what standard is set here. There are no cafés, restaurants or toilets at Red Rock Beach. If the truck is on site, there is a mobile shower, if not, then not. Due to the short walking distances, the spot is also recommended at low tide if you don't feel annoyed by gusts and choppy water.

3. Longfeng or City Beach

The city beach is located directly in the city of Pingtan, on the beach promenade. There is a small shopping mall, restaurants, cafés and toilets. The parking spaces are very far away, and for safety reasons the beach is closed off by security guards when the wind reaches 30 knots. You are then no longer allowed to walk on the promenade or use the restaurants. You are no longer allowed on the area. The beach is sandy and, depending on the tide, very wide. It is the wave spot of the island. The waves run clean, sorted and are very high. The wind is mostly sideon to onshore.

4. Tannan Beach

The beach is located almost entirely in the south of the island. There are two access roads, the

northern one ends in a kind of bungalow village. This is where a safety officer might raise objections. The southern access road ends at the rocky area of the bay. A walk of about 200-300m is obligatory here. In return, no one else will show up there. The beach is semicircular and strongly tidal, i.e. at low tide there are long walks again. The wind comes sideon to onshore and relatively evenly. There are a few islets offshore, but they have no influence on the waves or the wind. The waves come in very clean, but not as high as at Longfeng. But you won't find any infrastructure at Tannan Beach. No kite station, no toilets, no restaurant. Nothing.

5 Elephant Nose, Daojiayu

The spot goes by south. A sandy headland off a bay in the southwest of the island. At low tide the bay is completely dry or muddy. Infrastructure? Nope.

Unfortunately, the access road was closed for the entire time we spent on Pingtan, so we couldn't take a closer look at this spot and don't have any pictures of it.

6 Wandi Beach

This is the second spot for southern winds. The bay is located in the east of the island. It is shared with a few fishing boats and fish farms. The beach is sandy and wider depending on the tide. Since we only had north-east wind during our stay, we can't say anything about the conditions with southern winds. The access to the beach is in the west of the bay. You can drive almost to the beach by car. However, there is no restaurant, café or other amenities.

Pingtan - Island Conclusion:

Varied and almost Mediterranean in landscape, there is no boredom on the island, even with little wind. At almost every corner there are viewpoints or signs pointing out special features (in Chinese, of course).

There are large hotels in the city and guesthouses or holiday flats everywhere in the villages. It should be noted, however, that the smaller accommodations usually have Chinese beds. And they are terribly hard. We ask our hostel mother to give us a second pad because we couldn't sleep. But we still found our room quite nice.

Almost all inhabitants in Pingtan live from fishing or mussel farming. The mussels and/or fish are dried on large grids in front of the house or on the street. Can you smell the picture?

Everywhere on the island there are small or larger "restaurants" offering fish and seafood. If you don't like fish, you can get your own from various supermarkets, go to Mc Donalds or KFC ;) or go to one of the numerous hotpot restaurants. In any case, you don't have to go hungry.

The distances between the individual kitespots can be covered in a short time by car. From the very top in the north to the very bottom in the south, it takes just 40 minutes. The roads are mostly empty and you have the feeling of being alone on the island.

On the surface, Pingtan is a jewel. Hidden bays with great sandy beaches or rocky cliffs where the waves roll in. Romantic and/or quiet corners are everywhere. But if you take a closer look, you realise that the first impression is unfortunately deceptive. The sandy beach, which looked almost white from a distance, is littered with washed-up rubbish or leftovers from past picnics. The glitter of the water turns out to be plastic bags and every wave washes up a handful of new polystyrene balls. Old fishing nets, cans, bottles and other rubbish hang between the cliffs.

As mentioned above, the people on Pingtan live from fish. Since there is probably not much left to catch in the sea, the inhabitants make do with fish farms. These swim in the sea at some distance from the shore. And they float with the help of Styrofoam buoys, which dissolve or tear loose over time. One could also use something else...

The large public beaches (North Beach, Longfeng and Tannan) are cleaned by staff. Shortly after high tide, when the water recedes, a whole squad comes and collects the rubbish that has washed up in the bags they have brought with them. For the first few days I was really amazed at how organised, fast and hard-working the women and men are. But then we watched the full bags being emptied behind the dune!!! Unfortunately, even addressing them does not help, completely resistant to advice.

Video? Video!

You can see moving pictures of our holiday in the video. And if you're wondering why Denny isn't in the water this time, he decided to become a drone pilot. Not entirely voluntarily, though. He broke his big toe on holiday, had to stay dry and was my beach groupie for a change.

Nevertheless, we spent two wonderful weeks on Pingtan. We found a great café, a delicious pizzeria and a great burger place (no, not Mc Donalds) and made new friends. At the same time as us, the kite community from Shanghai was also on Pingtan. Since everything there is a bit more international than here in the north, there were Germans, French, Swiss, Austrians, Chinese, Australians and Belgians. There is also a direct train connection from Shanghai to the island. Duration: 5.5 hours.

Greetings to all of you

Anja & Denny

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