The beaches of Jeju island, Jeju, South Korea (제주 해수역장)
Story by Henry Gerlits | Lead photo: Jungmun Beach
Are you new to the island, looking forward to dodging the monsoon weather and heading to the beaches this summer? Not sure which beach to check out? Here’s some information that might help get you started.
1. Samyang Beach – Located to the immediate east of Jeju City, this beach is accessible by city bus and is famous for its black sand. The black sand is known for its dermatological properties, and “there are even trenches so that you can be buried in the sand – it’s great for your skin,” commented English instructor and Jeju resident Anj Schroeder. Anj added that Samyang is best visited in the peaceful early hours of the morning.
2. Hamdeok Beach – Koreans I’ve spoken to have referred to this beach as “exotic”. Though I’m not sure I agree, Hamdeok does offer a number of great activities at close proximity to Jeju City. There are actually two beaches at Hamdeok, the main beach and a smaller, more private side beach around the rocks to the east. Those same rocks are also a great snorkeling spot. There’s a Family Mart visible from the beach, and crossing the road will bring you to a small amusement park with the legendary “Viking” boat ride. Hamdeok tends to be a foreigner favorite on the weekends and a meeting place for rugby, frisbee, and other sports.
3. Gimnyeong Beach – Gimnyeong (pictured) is notable for its sailing. The Cheju National University adult program runs sailing classes on the weekends there, you can contact them at 751-2704-5.
4. Sehwa, Hado, & Jongdal-ri Beaches – Located between Seongsan and Gimyeong, these beaches are surrounded by sandy plains and are close to the Haenyeo Museum. This area is ideal for those looking for a secluded, off-the-tourist-radar area with few amenities.
5. Sinyang Beach – This beach is a little south of Seongsan, and a great place to find a minbak and spend the night before climbing Seongsan at sunrise. It is also popular with windsurfers.
6. Pyoseon Beach – The only beach in Jeju’s southeast corner, Pyoseon is known for its long stretch of sandy beach – it takes quite a while to walk (or even run!) from the road to the waves, especially during low tide. The beach’s total size is 250,000 square meters. I’ve spotted flying fish playing in the shallows at Pyoseon. It’s also right around the corner from the Jeju Folk Village.
7. Jungmun Beach – “The” tourist beach of Jeju, Jungmun’s resort complex might deter a budget traveler, but this beach has more to offer than just high prices, and is another weekend foreigner favorite. Boasting the best waves on the island, Jungmun is a popular place for surfing and other water sports. You can even charter a yacht, and it comes complete with a buffet. The coastline toward the west (near the Hyatt) is a good place to avoid the crowds, and a great spot for a volleyball net. On the east side of the beach is a small haenyeo (women diver) restaurant which serves freshly caught seafood – and it’s where I tasted seng-nakchi (still wriggling octopus tentacles) for the first and last time. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, a stop at Gecko’s western-style bar and grille for a pint of draft Guinness and a hamburger is the perfect way to end the day.
8. Hwasun Beach – With a gorgeous view of the sunset behind Sanbangsan, Hwasun beach is an under-appreciated gem of the island. Though close to Jungmun, Hwasun has managed to avoid the encroachment of larger resorts, and a comfortable minbak a stone’s throw from the beach will run you between 20,000 and 25,000 won a night.
9. Hamo Beach – This tiny beach on the southwestern tip of Jeju has a good view of Marado, but “more rocks than sand”, according to a good Korean friend of mine whose hometown is Moseulpo.
10. Hyeopjae & Geumneung Beaches – With a stunning view of Biyang Island right off the coast, and right around the corner from Hallim Park, these beaches are a beautiful place to spend a Saturday or Sunday, though the area is a bit far from both Jeju City and Seogwipo. Those who’d rather spend the night might find it a great place to tent camp on the beach.
11. Gwakji Beach – Located between Iho and Hyeopjae beaches, Gwakji is a great place to watch the sunset and has unique salt-water bathhouses (for men and women) right on the beach.
12. Iho Beach – A short ride from Sin Jeju, this beach was hit hard by Nari last year, and has a reputation among Koreans as being “dirty”. Nevertheless, it’s a nice short refreshing break from the city, and close to the romantic spaghetti restaurants of Jeju’s “Coastal Road”.
13. Bonus – Oedolgae Rock - Though not a proper beach, this popular sightseeing location is also home to a small swimming hole, good snorkeling, and rock-jumping. The view from the cliffs along the path to the west of the Rock are also a must-see. It is located along the coast of Seogwipo City near the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.