China beach fans never without their inflatable

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Crowds of holidaymakers in Qingdao wade into the water and bob alongside each other with their trusty floats, beating the hot August sun

Crowds of holidaymakers in Qingdao wade into the water and bob alongside each other with their trusty floats, beating the hot August sun (AFP Photo/FRED DUFOUR)

At one of China's most popular seaside resorts, a brightly coloured inflatable ring is an essential item for a day on the beach.

Crowds of holidaymakers both old and young wade into the water with their trusty floats and bob alongside each other, beating the hot August sun.

"First it's for safety," said Pan Wenxiang, a young man cooling off with friends at Golden Sands Beach in Qingdao.

"But the second reason is that it's nice to be carried off by the waves... and we can go further."

The swimmers showcase a medley of inflatable rings from those bedecked in the American national flag to others in the shape of unicorns or flamingos.

For the more intrepid beach-goer, there are also large zorb balls -- giant inflatable orbs that people can get inside of and then roll around in -- although space to move on the busy sand appears limited.

Qingdao, the vast metropolis of eastern China in Shandong province, is one of the country's most famous seaside destinations.

Also renowned for the beer brand, Tsingtao, it boasts several hundred kilometers of coastline and many sandy beaches.