HAINAN SCHOOL TRIPS
Environmental Service Learning, Adventure Activities, Watersports and more in this tropical paradise
Hainan Island has it all. Without needing to cross an international boarder, school groups from anywhere in China can find themselves amongst lush plants, clear blue waters, golden sand, boats, boards, fish and coconuts.
And it’s not just about indulgence. As with any great destination, tourism is taking its toll on the local environment and there has never been a more important time in the history of Hainan – and the world – to reflect on the human impact here.
Students are able to explore issues ranging from plastic waste on the beaches and in the ocean, to coral bleaching and shifting sea beds. After enjoying a spot of surfing or body-boarding, learn how local surfers notice the waves changing over the years due to man-made peninsulas effecting the long-shore drift. Go snorkelling to gain appreciation for beautiful and diminishing underwater habitats.
With all this and much, much more to explore… Hainan is waiting for you!
A specialised cycle path takes you on a peaceful peddle-powered journey through jungles and around lakes, to the sound of singing birds, all without the worry of other road-users, as the route is closed to outside vehicles.
Imagine is well-known for its survival training programmes. We have been teaching groups in the forests of China for years, and now it’s time to see if the students were paying attention!
A classic fantasy challenge for kids and – let’s be honest – adults alike is to be stuck on a desert island with limited supplies and see how long you can last with just your bare hands and what you remember from scouts and TV.
While we won’t have long enough to watch it deteriorate into Lord of the Flies, the island environment is perfect for learning some fascinating skills. Besides making fire with a waterproof flint and steel, a solar still can be made in the sand out of ponchos to extract fresh water from salt water. Morse code can be practised with shiny debris for signalling to ships, and there is plenty more to learn about island survival.
There’s no better way of gaining appreciation for the underwater habitats and the colourful life that is faading away in so many parts of the world. Time to find Nemo.
Hainan does in fact have its own local efforts to protect and re-invigorate coral reefs. Man-made reefs are being built to create growing conditions for coral, and various charities and focus-groups are each playing their part in inspiring ways. Students can either enjoy snorkelling as a minor part of a day of other activities, or combine it with meeting some of the people involved in these projects to dive deeper into the topic.
Clean-up and Awareness
On a recent school trip to Hainan, after arriving by boat on a secluded, tiny island only a few hundred meters wide, with no people, students were shocked by an unexpected discovery. First, a mouthpiece of a snorkel was found. Nothing to write home about you might think. Until another was found, and another, creating a trail leading into the ocean where hundreds of plastic snorkel mouthpieces were found floating around. It turns out that a local tour company had been running daily snorkelling trips to the tiny island, not only using one-time-use disposable mouthpieces, but simply discarding them in the water after each use!
Doing a beach clean-up is not just about the act itself. Moments like these bring realities to the forefront of students’ minds and enable them to develop a true understanding, passion and determination to influence society and human habits in whichever way they can in their lives.
To enable this impact to occur on various levels, we facilitate reflection and discussions based on their discoveries as the session develops.
This activity adds a great bit of exercise to let off steam in between other programme elements. At Imagine we have enjoyed running sessions of parkour – also known as free-running – for many years because of its inherent creative style. Participants can get imaginative with the ways they jump, land, roll, spin, balance and get over obstacles.
The golden, sandy beach is the perfect location to practise tricks with a soft landing!
This activity has a special place in our hearts as it really seems to summarise the fundamental values of Imagine. We believe that building your own swing as a kid pretty much epitomises the type of outdoor, creative, fun-based childhood that everyone deserves to have, that is so often getting left behind in the modern, solitary, urban world of walls and screens.
The challenge involves teamwork, creativity and some good old physical handy-work. And the reward is priceless.
There’s nothing better than the feeling of catching a wave for the first time (or 1000th time!). The lessons will begin in a beautiful swimming pool in the morning, to get used to the basic techniques of paddling, balancing, popping up and standing on the board. In the afternoon, we hit the ocean, with instructors standing right next to students, helping them closely and safely. Body-boarding is an available alternative.
The local surf community has some interesting stories to tell. With a new-found appreciation for good waves, students will understand when they are told how a controversial man-made peninsula further down the beach has prevented the natural longshore drift that previously had always maintained a particular seabed formation and a fantastic resulting point break, that has failed to deliver in the same way ever since. Hainan’s tourism adverts never miss out the token surfer for the cool-factor, while ironically the natural conditions for the sport itself are being eroded by instances of over-development of the island.
A night under the stars, with the sound of gently lapping waves, and a morning sunrise over the water to peak out on from your tent… Oh wait, this trip is for students! While some of them may be equally as appreciative of being so close to nature, the real benefit for many will come from stepping out of their comfort zones. And if the skies are kind to us, there is some mind-boggling star-gazing to be done before going to bed.
Don’t worry about those spare moments in between the key activities. The beach is the perfect place for students to play. This can be as structured or unstructured as you prefer. In many ways, we believe there’s something to be said for just letting students enjoy the moment in whichever way they naturally like to (besides looking on phones!). We hold out hope that people of all ages don’t yet need to be told how to enjoy themselves on a beach.
On the structured end of the scale, our large repertoire of team-building games never fails to produce enough age-appropriate, fun challenges for groups.
Coconut Tree Climbing
That’s right. Perhaps the only time in students’ lives that they will have a try at this timeless local profession, learning from a local professional, complete with specialised coconut-tree-climbing gear. A refreshing coconut is the perfect reward after you get down!
A semi-enclosed harbour provides the perfect spot for a session of Stand-up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking on the sea, without the risks of currents and waves. Imagine have been leading watersports sessions for years and have some great challenges and games for all ages while afloat.
Sailing To a Tiny Island
We have arrangements with a tiny, secret island that can only be accessed with special permission. Procedures to gain permission change all the time, so this is not a guaranteed feature, but if you are interested, we do our best to include it. The island is truly deserted and only a few hundred metres wide – perfect for survival training, snorkelling, beach clean-ups and inspiring awe in general.
To get there, you can take the motor-boat or, as this group did, get a taste of the sailor’s life with the wind in your hair onboard a yacht.
Economics and Society
Hainan is undergoing a massive economic transformation. Idyllic natural beaches with traditional fishing communities are dotted in between epic land development projects, from shopping centres to trade ports and 5-star resorts.
All of this makes Hainan a perfect place for students to reflect on topics of economics and society that they may be studying at school. Let us know your area of focus and we can help to arrange visits to relevant places of interest such as development project displays, and to meet with people involved in or affected by these projects.
7-18 (and adult groups). Activities are tailored to be age-appropriate
Approximately 14 to 60 participants is ideal, but it depends on the situation, so just let us know your requirements and we’ll let you know if it’s possible.
If your students are studying a particular topic, or have an idea for something not listed here, don’t be shy! Get in touch and ask us if we can make it happen. The possibilities in Hainan are endless, and we are always keen to accommodate the needs of any group.
Hainan has two airports – Haikou in the North and Sanya in the South. Both serve international flight routes, so you can see which has the best flights from your location. Sanya is the closest to most of our activities (although we are in a quieter part of the island, not in Sanya itself), and it’s also possible to arrive at Haikou. Whichever you choose, we provide airport pick-up and transfer.
Hainan is part of China, so if you are already in China, you don’t need any extra documents. If you are coming from other countries, you may be in luck, as Hainan also has a special new visa-free policy for holders of many passports, to encourage more visitors to the island!