No. 1 Bathing Beach
Qingdao's Number One Bathing Beach - or No. 1 Bathing Beach, as it is most commonly written - is located at Huiquan Bay, a horseshoe-shaped bay whose open end points in a southwesterly direction. Qingdao's No. 1 Bathing Beach, which is also sometimes, for obvious reasons, referred to as Huiquan Beach, especially by the Chinese people themselves, is situated at the northeastern "corner" of the "horseshoe".
Behind No. 1 Bathing Beach lies a built-up area, containing many hotels, restaurants and shopping centers, centered around Huiquan Square. Nearby the beach and the built-up area lies Luxun Park, while Sun Zhongshan Park, the city's largest and named in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whose birthname is Sun Zhongshan, lies slightly more inland, and nearer the center of the closed end of the "horseshoe". Behind Sun Zhongshan Park a mountain range rises up, and even along the "arms" of the "horseshoe" that surrounds Huiquan Bay are smaller mountains and hills, meaning that the bay, and therefore No. 1 Bathing Beach, lies protected - meaning in turn that the water surface here tends to be quite calm (the maximum wave height is about 1 meter). This is yet another factor that adds to the popularity of Qingdao's No. 1 Bathing Beach. The beach also has a special, anti-shark net designed to keep unwanted predators out, and there are life guards as an added layer of protection.
There have been some environmental issues with this beach, where some voices have claimed that the water is not the cleanest (and litter is often a problem at all Chinese beaches), at least for the purpose of bathing (and note that the No. 1 designation is not a quality ranking, as one might expect, but is instead a location ranking, with No. 1 beach being the closest to the city center, and number 6 being the beach that is the farthest removed from the city center), prompting some to suggest that the Chinese authorities need to develop a nationwide bathing water quality classification system for the country's public beaches, regulated by the state government, along the lines of the beach rating system in Hong Kong (Good/ very low E-coli presence; Fair/ low E-coli presence; Poor/ acceptable E-coli presence; Very Poor/ dangerously high E-coli presence), or the EU's color-coded beach rating system ((the color) Blue/ best; (the color) Green/ average; (the color) Red/ substandard; (the color) Gray/ temporarily closed), where public beaches are required to post the official water-quality rating sign for the beach in question, as this serves as an incentive for local authorities to improve the water quality of their beaches.
If bathing is your primary goal with a visit to one of Qingdao's beaches, then you can probably find better water quality at another of Qingdao's 6 beaches. In spite of the water quality issues, No. 1 Bathing Beach is a very popular waterside venue with the local residents, who use it mainly for sunbathing, but with the occasional trip to the water to cool off, to splash - and be splashed by - friends, etc. The beach's close proximity to downtown Qingdao is a great - if not its greatest - plus. The numbers that flock to this beach brings to mind the picture postcard scenes of a Mediterranean resort beach.
Qingdao's No. 1 Bathing Beach is also one of Qingdao's largest, both in length and breadth, at 580 x 40 meters (the largest is Old Stone Man Beach). Another feature of the beach that makes it popular with sunbathers, apart from its fine, silvery-colored, but somewhat silty sand, is the fact that the beach slopes very, very gradually into the bay; there is no sudden drop-off. This means that there is also plenty of room in the water for sunbathers (the official figure is a capacity of 200,000 though it is hard to imagine a crowd that large at any beach (think wildebeest herds in Africa!), even at a beach as large as Qingdao's No. 1 Bathing Beach), and its very gentle gradient also makes it children-friendly.
There are ample bathing compartments for changing to a swimsuit - 53 of them to be exact - some above and some beneath ground. The bathing compartments above ground have wood partitions, in the German Colonial Style (No. 1 Bathing Beach was in fact built by German occupiers during the 19th century Unequal Treaties period, when certain trade and territorial concessions were forced upon China... Qingdao thus became a German concession, and traces of the German Colonial Era are still found in the city, including the city's own Tsingdao Beer, "Tsingdao" being an earlier, Colonial designation for the city of Qingdao - think "Peking" instead of "Beijing" - to learn more about the origin of Tsingdao Beer, click here, and to learn more about the annual Tsingdao Beer Festival, click here). The beneath-ground bathing compartments have sky lights (sun windows) that provide natural lighting.
Other amenities, such as shower rooms, toilets and an information desk are located here as well, and there are snack stalls that serve both food and drink, so the sunbather's/ swimmer's complete needs can be satisfied here, meaning that one can spend an entire, carefree day at No. 1 Bathing Beach without need to go elsewhere to satisfy one's needs.
For accomodations, there are several hotels nearby, as well as traditional Chinese villas for rent, but of course the visitor can choose his or her accomodations anywhere near the downtown area without regard to the beach, since No. 1 Bathing Beach is only a short bus or taxi ride from the city center - in fact, if you are in need of a stroll for the sake of exercise, No. 1 Bathing Beach is easily within walking distance.