Known for the largest and the first mangrove natural reserve area in China, Dongzhai Harbor is located in the northeast of Haikou City with an area of 3337.6 hectares (about 8247 acres). It is a typical tropical jungle, and the mangrove tree family can be seen everywhere in the area. Mangrove is a kind of tropical tree that grows in swamps and sends roots down from its branches. When the tide is high, the mangroves are submerged by the water, and leave only the green crowns for people to wonder at their marvelous nature.
Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve Area is also called 'heaven for birds'. About 159 species of birds inhabit the reserve, including many rare migratory birds. So it is not only a national mangrove reserve, but it is also a wetland of international importance especially as a waterfowl habitat. During the winter, the best season for bird watching in Dongzhai Harbor, tens of thousands of birds turn the area into a wonderland. Because of the nourishment the mangroves provide to the swamp, marine animals prefer to spawn and raise their infants here. Fish, shrimp and shellfish in abundance can fill visitors' stomach freshly and palatably, and provide a substantial feast for the birds.
Apart from the beautiful scenery, there is another natural wonder in Dongzhai Harbor: Villages under the sea. Historical writings say that at midnight on July 13th, 1605, a severe earthquake occurred and made 72 villages subside into the sea. Hundreds of years later, the 72 villages have become an amazing underwater sight waiting for visitors to discover their extraordinary story.
No matter what kind of adventure you are looking for, whether natural sightings of the mangroves and birds, or the underwater sightseeing, or you just want to have a good meal of local foods, you can certainly have a good time in Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Nature Reserve Area.
How to Get there: It's 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from Haikou City, so you'd better take a bus at Qiongshan Minibus Station on Hongchenghu Road. Get off at Yanfeng Village and find a passenger tricycle; it will take you to Dongzhai Harbor directly.
Special Local Product: seafood (oyster, prawn, eel and crab, etc.), sticky rice cake, tropical fruit.
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Dongzhai Mangrove Natural Reserve is the biggest swamp forest in China, measuring about 50 miles long and covering an area of roughly 4,000 square kilometers. A mangrove is a kind of tropical tree that grows in swamps and sends roots down from its branches. Some of the mangrove plants can reach ten meters high. When the tide comes in, the mangroves are submerged in water, and when the tide ebbs, it is possible to walk along a path in the forest where swans and cranes can be seen resting. An interesting fact about mangrove trees is that they produce seeds which sprout and propagate within their own shell. Once they drop to the ground, they grow into flowers within one or two hours. However, if the seed falls into the sea, it does not take root but remains alive for up to three months until it finds land. Today the mangrove reserve is located inside a park dedicated to not only preservation but also educating the public about this self-sustaining ecological habitat. There are about 81 kinds of mangroves in the world and about half can be found in Hainan.
Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve is also known as Bird Heaven. About 159 species of birds inhabit the reserve, including many rare migratory birds. During the winter, which is the best season for bird watching, tens of thousands of birds can be seen. Because of the nourishment the mangroves provide to the swamp, marine animals prefer to mate and raise offspring here. In addition, fish, shrimp and shellfish are found in abundance. Tides vary according to season, but when the tide is in there are some really fun boat trips to be enjoyed, which wind in and out of the mangrove trees and then on to the tiny island nearby, ripe with pineapple trees.
Apart from the beautiful scenery, there is actually an archaeological wonder in Dongzhai Harbor: The Underwater Villages. According to historical records, on July 13, 1605, a catastrophic earthquake occurred, resulting in 72 villages being submerged in about 3 to 4 meters under the sea, occupying an area of more than 100 square km. Every May or June it is possible to see these ancient villages sleeping quietly in the water.
Since mangroves are an integral part of a marine environment that provides shelter for both sea and land wildlife, they have been the focus of much international research and preservation efforts. The Association of the Research on Mangroves holds international seminars every year on mangrove protection issues. The Dongzhai Mangrove Reserve is not only a great place of interest to tourists but also is a place of scientific research both in China and abroad.