Jeju-do: the “Hawaii of Korea”. A temperate climate with countless cliffs, coasts, and beaches; vastly different than the rest of the country. It had been high on my list of places to see since before I even arrived to Korea. And I finally made it happen! Lucky for me, in my southern coastal town of Mokpo, there’s a ferry that departs right from here. Last Saturday September 10th, backpack full, hopes and expectations high, I set out for my solo adventure.
As soon as got off the bus near my hostel in Seogwipo, these expectations were far from exceeded. A gorgeous park atop a mountain overlooking the harbour, and a what appeared to be a never ending trail hit me right in the face. I made a mental note of where it was, and immediately went right back after dropping off my bags at the hostel. It turns out the trail I spotted was one of Jeju’s famous “Olle trails” (#6 to be exact) that cover the island. Waterfalls, croquet courses, palm trees. I hadn’t even been there an hour and I was already in love! Spontaneous, unplanned finds like this, are my favourite moments of travel. And lucky for me it was the first of many during this trip. Here are the rest of those moments, and some of my highlights of this trip.
Day 1: Late Afternoon Arrival, Olle Trail #6, Black Pork BBQ
Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, Olle Trail #6
Croquet course in the back, Olle Course #6
Olle Course #6 (not the blue/red ribbon- means you are ON the trail!)
They had a BBQ Party every night!
Day 2- Jeongbang Waterfall, Oedolgae, Olle Trail #7 (Oedolage to Sokgol), Donnaeko
Oedolgae- “the lonely rock”, starting point of Olle Trail #7
Olle Trail #7
Donnaeko swimming hole- beautifully breathtaking!! (literally, it was so cold I couldn’t breathe.)
Day 3: Sanbang Mountain, Yolmeori Cliffs, Black Pork Round #2
This day is the perfect example why you should ask wherever you are staying for suggestions. I had no idea this place existed, and I’m so glad it was suggested to me! Mountains, temples, horses, wacky food, and seaside cliffs all in one spot? Yes, please.
Black Pork and Jeju Orange Makkeoli! (Rice wine)
Day 4- Udo Island: Bikes, Burgers, Beaches, and Haenyo Women
A well worth trek from my home base in Seogwipo! Udo is an island off of Jeju island, less than 20 minutes away by ferry. Why go to another island once you’re already on one??!! Cause it’s freaking gorgeous and you can cycle around the whole thing in a day!
Tip: If I were to go back, I would stay here 1 night. It’s a small island, but so much to see and take in. I felt rushed. There are plenty of adorable guesthouses and condos, too.
Bike and bag. Can you tell what my favourite colour is?
Best. Burger. Ever.
Do you see those heads in the water? Those are “Haenyeo Women” aka Mermaids of Jeju. Fierce, strong, hardworking mermaids, that is. They spend their days diving for food, can hold their breath up to 3 minutes, and the majority of them over 80 years old, as it is a dying profession. I wish I had gotten a closer look at them!
Countless sculptures/statues of the Haenyo women all over the island.
Day 5- Hamdeok Beach, Departure Day
My ferry didn’t leave until 5 so I still had quite a bit of time for some more activities! Decided to make my way back up to Jeju City and spend some time at a beach nearby. Did some exploring, swimming, and eating, of course.
A pretty epic sunset on the ferry ride back home.
Goodbye Jeju! You were everything I imagined and more.