Located on the Southwest corner of the Korean Peninsula is a picturesque island I called my home for three years by the name of Jeju. I may be a tad bit bias but Jeju unlike any other island full of it’s own little nuances that makes it a unique paradise. Jeju, home to about 600,000 people, is said to be Korea’s Hawaii. Although it bears little in similarity when it comes to the climate and the geographical layout. But like Hawaii it is a go to vacation spot; making the list alongside astonishing places like Table Mountain in South Africa and the Amazon in South America as a 7th Wonder of the World, it attracts vacationers from the mainland and neighboring Asian countries. Three years gave me enough time to explore and fall in love with the crystal clear beaches, the magnificent views, the miles of green pastures, tangerines galore, and the mouthwatering food. Below is a list of reasons why I think the Fly Duos community should stop by Jeju for a time of romance and adventure.
Before moving to Jeju I had always dreamed of living on an Island. While Jeju is not the tropical island I envision it as its own kind of paradise. Depending on where you go on the island you will get a vastly different experience at each beach. For example if you’re looking for lush white sand and clear blue water my personal favorites are Hamdoek and Gwackji beach. If you’re looking for a beach town and artsy feel you must check out Woljeong Beach nestled on the eastern shore of the island. Looking to catch some waves and go surfing head down to the southern half the island to Jungmun beach. Jeju is sure to meet all your beach needs.
Unesco World Heritage sites
The Volcanic Island of Jeju is home to three Unesco World Heritage sites. Geomunoreum, said to be one of the finest lava tube system of caves anywhere. The Oreum (secondary volcanic cones) can be hiked but my favorite way to experience this majestic piece of nature is walking through Manjanggul lava tubes and caves. The only tubes open to the public is great to visit during the summer as it is chilly down there. It’s truly worth it to walk the caves where hot molten lava once traveled. The second wonder is the Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone which was formed about 5,000 years ago when an underwater volcano erupted. Locals refer to the cone as sunrise peak because it is believed to be the best place to catch the sunrise on the island. I never made it to catch the sunrise, probably because I’m not a morning person but I never met anyone that actually saw a successful sunrise there. The last site but certainly not the least is the dormant volcano that is Mt. Hallasan. Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea, takes about 8 hours round trip to hike. If I can hike it anybody can hike it. The amazing cliffs, interesting rock formations, lush trees, and an occasionally water filled crater at the top makes it well worth the hike.
If hiking a mountain is just not your thing but you enjoy long strolls through nature Olle trails are a must. These were my absolute favorite thing about the island, next to the beaches, of course. There are about 15 trails that wrap around the island. They take you spots unreachable by car, which in my opinion are the best parts of the island. Alongside secret beaches, up Oreums, next to Japanese bunkers, around smaller islands, over cliffs, through forest and to breath taking views of the island. Each trail is unique and tells its own story. You are also sure to meet friendly locals while on the trail. An early morning start is advised as one trail can take anywhere between 4-5 hours others as along as 6-7 hours. At least one Olle trails should be on the top of your list of things to do while in Jeju.
Eating out in Korea was my favorite. I love the culture of sharing around the table. Your food is my food. Dishes are served for two are more in most restaurants. Options for traditional Korean food are plentiful in Jeju. But once there you must try Jeju’s unique and special dishes. Being an island, as you can imagine, Jeju’s traditional food is made up of mouthwatering seafood and seaweed; caught in the clean coastal waters. My personal favorites are Ok-dom a small red fish usually served broiled and the nutritious seaweed soup called Mom-guk. If you’re looking for something heavier Jeju is also known for its black pig or Heukdwaeji; the black pork is cut up and grilled in front of you like traditional Korean BBQ. The meat of the black pig is said to be more tender than it’s pink counterparts and the skin rich in protein.
Last but not least Jeju’s museum options are like none other. The island contains around 100 museums while some are tourist traps others are worth the visit. The island boast a plethora of genuine museums dedicated to educating visitors about the islands unique history and culture. Such as Jeju National Museum which displays the islands cultural assets, Jeju Museum of Art featuring contemporary art, and one that I find most fascinating the Haenyeo Museum which gives an in depth view of the female divers of the island. Among the other museums are three sex museums, several trick art museums, a chocolate museum, a glass museum, a teddy bear museum, a seashell museum and for you computer lovers and gamers a computer museum was recently added to the list. Needless to say there’s something for everyone in the museum department.
Fly Duos, I could go on and on about the wonder that is Jeju. But I will leave the rest for you to discover and explore. Next time you’re in Asia please stop by.