The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has been shown to have significant climatic and environmental impacts across the Pan-Pacific Basin; however, there are no records of PDO activity from the South China Sea (SCS), the largest marginal sea in the northwest Pacific Ocean. This study suggests that a series of geochemical profiles obtained from a modern coral in the northern SCS records annual PDO activity dating back to 1853. These geochemical data are significantly correlated with the PDO index, and their patterns of variation closely match those of the PDO index over the last century. The relationship between the PDO and coral geochemistry may be related to the influence of the PDO on rainfall on Hainan Island. Rainfall patterns influence the volume of terrestrial runoff, which, in turn, is a primary determinant of δ18O and Δδ18O values in coral; however, coral δ13C values are also influenced by the 13C Suess effect. The results indicate that Sr/Ca ratios in coral are affected by a combination of sea surface temperature and terrestrial runoff.