South Korea’s growing popularity as an international tourist destination isn’t surprising. From Seoul to Busan, the country is a mixing pot of amazing food, fascinating culture, and gorgeous historical architecture. However, there’s one type of tourist that, at first glance, you might not expect Korea to attract: the nature lovers.
There are some incredible natural wonders in Korea, and you’ll find them in no higher concentration than on Jeju Island. It’s been the favourite domestic destination of Koreans for many years, but a growing interest from overseas travellers means that more people are discovering the island’s beauty. Alongside volcanic formations and swooping cliffs, you’ll find crystal-clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches, rolling canola fields and fragrant tangerine trees.
If you’re planning a trip to Jeju but are unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Here’s are the best spots on Jeju Island for nature lovers!
Daepo Haean Jusangjeolli Cliff
Designated a natural monument in 2005, you might be forgiven for comparing Daepo Haean Jusangjeolli Cliff to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Indeed, like the Causeway, Daepo Haean is a spectacular cliff formation formed by an eruption from Mount Hallasan. Formed upwards of 140,000 years ago, it’s a slice of history in front of your very eyes. Though a completely natural creation, the hexagonal structures of the Cliff means that it’s an unmissable view, as the dark rock drops away into the ocean.
Geumneung Euddeum Beach
Just a short walk from it’s more popular neighbour, Hyeopjae, Geumneung Beach is a beautiful expanse of white sand and emerald waters. While it attracts many to the shoreline, it’s less busy than Hyeopjae, and is one of the best spots on Jeju Island for families. It’s a haven for calm relaxation or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, snorkelling in the warmer shallows around the rocks. You’ve also got amazing views across to Biyangdo Island, making it a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
Another of the best spots on Jeju Island is Jeongbang Waterfall. It’s the only waterfall in all of Asia that drops directly into the ocean! Designated a scenic wonder, the waterfall is also embedded into the local mythology of the area, as a holy dragon is said to dwell underneath it. You can dip your toes into the natural pool at Jeongbang’s base, meaning that on a warm day, it’s one of the nicest spots to visit.
Standing at a whopping 1,947m, Mount Hallasan is Korea’s highest mountain. Once a volcano, atop the mountain now sits the Baengnokdam crater, nestled in amongst the unique topography. Its location in the very centre of Jeju means that, regardless of which side of the island you’re on, all roads lead to Hallasan. It’s also a paradise for flora, and visiting in springtime sees the mountainsides covered in colour.
As a walker’s heaven, it’s no surprise that hiking paths criss-cross the whole of Jeju. Route 7 of the Olle Walking Trail brings you past another of our favourite spots: Oedolgae Rock. Located off the south coast of Jeju, Oedolgae is an impressive sea stack that stands alone in the water. It’s 20m high, and is, by all accounts, about 1.5 million years old. The amazing scenery around means that, if you’re hiking the Olle trails, you’re well rewarded for your efforts.
One of the most well-known natural spots on Jeju is Seongsan Ilchulbong. It’s also known as ‘Sunrise Peak’, giving you some idea of the best time to head there! This UNESCO World Heritage site is, geologically-speaking, what’s called a tuff cone crater, and now stands 180m above sea level. If you’re a keen walker trying to test your mettle before heading to Hallasan, the steep but doable 45-minute hike to the peak rewards you with some remarkable views across the ocean.
Follow your nose to the south side of Jeju, and you’ll stumble across Soesokkak Estuary. A spectacular area where the Hyodoncheon stream meets the sea, it’s well known for its fresh tangerines and pine trees. If you’d like to take to the water but want something more leisurely, Soesokkak is a perfect spot to kayak, as the river slows down where it joins the ocean. Surrounded by cosy cliffs, the area is an ideal escape for anyone looking to slow the pace down.
Jeju Island is one of the places we visit on our South Korea tour. For more information, visit the itinerary page here.
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