Why surfing is getting more and more popular in China

Surfing in China (冲浪) has seen significant growth in 2024 and changes in recent years, driven by a combination of cultural, technological, and fashion trends.

Here are five key 2024 trends about surfing in China:

  1. Increased Popularity and Surf Tourism: Surfing has become increasingly popular in China, particularly in coastal areas like Hainan Island. Destinations such as Shilaoren Beach are becoming major hubs for surfing, attracting both local and international surf enthusiasts.
  2. Eco-Surfing and Sustainability: There’s a growing awareness about environmental conservation within the Chinese surfing community. This includes the use of eco-friendly surfboards and gear, as well as initiatives like beach clean-ups to preserve the natural beauty of surf locations.
  3. Techn influence: Modern technology is playing a significant role in the surf scene. Virtual Reality (VR) tools are being used to teach surfing, and there are apps available that predict wave conditions, helping surfers choose the best times to hit the beach.
  4. Fashion and Lifestyle Influence: Surfing is influencing Chinese fashion and lifestyle. Surf-inspired brands and designs are gaining popularity, reflecting the laid-back and free spirit of the surfing culture. This influence extends beyond clothing to accessories and media content.
  5. Mainstream Culture and Social Media Impact: Surfing and watersports have seen a surge in popularity on social media platforms like Xiaohongshu and Douyin (TikTok in China). Campaigns and TV shows featuring surfing have garnered billions of views, signaling a growing interest in surf culture among the younger generation. However, it’s important to note that conservative attitudes towards beachwear and tanning still prevail in China, influencing the types of swimwear and beachwear that are popular

Social Medias Influence Chinese life

For marketing apps associated with surfing in China, there are several powerful platforms that stand out. These apps not only have large user bases but also offer specific features that make them suitable for promoting surfing-related content and products:

  1. WeChat: This app is a multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app. It’s an all-in-one platform that covers various aspects of digital life in China, making it a key channel for marketing and advertising.
  2. QQ: Although it has been somewhat overshadowed by WeChat, QQ remains popular, particularly for its messaging services. It has a significant user base and offers various features like integrated email and file management.
  3. Douyin (TikTok in China): As the king of short video platforms in China, Douyin is particularly effective for engaging with a younger demographic through creative video content. It also doubles as an e-commerce platform, making it a powerful tool for marketing.
  4. Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book or RED): This platform combines social media and e-commerce, akin to Instagram. It targets young people, especially women in large cities, and is known for its user-generated content and strong presence of influencers.
  5. Sina Weibo: Often compared to Twitter, Weibo is a microblogging platform that is essential for sharing short messages and engaging with a broad audience. It allows for a variety of content types, including text, media files, and links, and is popular among various demographics.
  6. Kuaishou: This is another short-form video platform that emphasizes unfiltered content, such as live streaming and vlogging. It’s known for its reach in both urban and rural areas.
  7. Meituan-Dianping: Often called “China’s Yelp,” this app is crucial for local services and recommendations, including hotel and travel bookings. It integrates various services, making it useful for targeted local marketing.


Even if China does not have the culture of surfing, this activity starts to be more and more popular. China has a dock of 14 500 km which is one of the biggest in the world. Indeed, China is a very big athletic country with a potential billion strong audience. Western countries markets tend to be full, so corporations begin to search new consumers.

Because China knows a constant economic growth and the middle class keeps growing. These new rich are traveling across the world, so they discover new activities that they want to do again once they are back to home in China.  These one-child policy babies born are today young adults and at the contrary of their parents they can spend more money to go on holiday.

Change in Mentalities

Most Chinese citizens have never experienced surfing in their life because it is not something common. Chinese parents don’t want their children to do this activity because first it is dangerous and second because they should instead go to school and get a good job.  In addition, many people live far from the ocean and are apprehensive about the sea. For them it cannot be a professional activity. Nevertheless, the number of Chinese people taking waters is rising. Mentalities are evolving. In China, people still have specific beauty codes. Indeed, they’re afraid to get tan skinned because it is a symbol of being a peasant. In other words, it means that you belong to the low social category. However, thanks to travels , people change their mind.

Opportunities in the Market

Actually, this new middle-class go abroad like in Australia to take surfing lessons and to experience the feeling of being on waves.

Some Australian companies felt the potential.  Famous surfing brands like Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver came to China because of the cheap labour and the new interest for surfing thanks to you tube Videos of US and European surfers.

The association of Surfing Professionals and International Association organized a surfing contest at Hainan in 2023. Since then, permanent buildings for contest settle which shows the importance of the activity. These buildings include large sheds, media center, competitor hang out.We can also notice the construction of small shops such as restaurants and bars on or near the beach like in the majorities of western coasts.

We can also notice the increasing number of women surfers. Their presence in China is stunning considering the fact that it is not very appreciated by Chinese parents. In the following year, there will be  more athletes more Chinese people are starting to consider this activity serious one. The market is flourishing and people prepare themselves for the Olympics.

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Why Chinese tourists are dreaming about Surfing & Watersports ?

The opening of new beaches is also a good opportunity for foreign surfers.  The association of professional surfers tried Waning on Hainan Island for Swatch Girls pro-China. There was a feminine competition of longboard organized there and it keeps going. Other events are organized there since this competition. China cup is an international contest gathering the 8 best selected countries during Junior Championship ISA. This competition opened the Hainan Waning Riyue Bay International Surfing festival in which other competitions and international events happened, as the Classic Hainan.

Trendy leisure 

china beach tourism

Actually Chinese people have 2 weeks of holiday granted by the government.  There is one at the beginning of the year for the spring and the second  is at the beginning of December for the national day. They also have 3 week ends for the of dead people  in April and the dragoons boat day in June. In 2023, Chinese had as a whole 25 of days off.

Perfect Situation ?

Riding the Wave: The Booming Surfing Market in China

China has many beaches especially in the south East where condition to practice this activity is ideal. Hainan is the island that attracts the most Chinese tourists and foreigners , who saw  a potential on the island : blue ocean , great waves and not too many tourists. For the moment , it is mainly western tourists that go there and ask Chinese people if they want to take lessons because they are curious about that. Every year , the surfing school in Hainan knows a growing number of students.

If you want to start a business in surfing in China. This is the right moment because Chinese people get more and more interested in this activity. They even tend to be more professional and getting prepared for international contest. The main target here is middle class including men and women. You should therefore choose a specific field. Using social media and build a solid reputation is important in China. Because Chinese consumers always compare brand and are very careful about what people say about you and their opinion. Include famous surfers in your marketing and communication strategy can be very helpful. The government also supports the development of this market. GMA , thanks to its expertise can help you to realize your project.

Hey We can help  you to Reach Chinese Audience

  • Lead Generation for service agencies
  • Chinese Website if you don’t have one
  • E-reputation
  • SEO on baidu……
  • RED (instragram)
  • E-commerce if you sell some surf equipment

For more information , please go to the contact section.

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