Visiting Jeju Island, South Korea is one of my most favourite part of my one year trip around the world. Declared one of the Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011, it definitely lives up to its name. The entire island both peaceful and beautiful.
Also named the Hawaii of Korea, it boast beautiful beaches during the summertime attracting many Korean tourist.
However; when I visited the island, it was during Winter! March is slow season for the island because it’s too cold to go to the beach. Despite being cold, I still found myself loving the island and the peaceful vibe it presented.
As soon as I got out of the airport and took a bus to my hostel, I was in love with this city.
First, the hostel I stayed at is called Goodstay at Lyndon and it’s easily in the top three hostels I’ve ever stayed at. It was very nice and comfortable with friendly staff members. Definitely a good start to my trip to Jeju Island!
Signing up for a tour
I wasn’t staying long in Jeju Island which I really regretted. Prior to coming to South Korea, I didn’t have any idea if I was going to like it or not. There is not many information on Jeju Island to begin with. It just doesn’t have the same popularity as Halong Bay in Vietnam or Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.
So when I finally got a chance to visit the island, I was blown away with the peaceful vibe and can see myself living here for a month or longer!
Because I knew nothing about the island, I signed up to join a tour of the eastern side of the island. The tour wasn’t cheap at 75,000 WON or $90 CAD. But, because I was short on time, I wanted to make sure I see all the heritage site. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the tour company because I had the hostel I stayed at arrange it for me. But, if you stay at Goodstay at Lyndon, they can arrange it for you and the tour guide is very good.
The tour would include the following:
- A short hike in the Saryeoni Forest Trail
- A big lunch at a local Korean restaurant
- Hike up Seongsan Ilchubong Peak
- Watch the woman diver show
- Visit Hamdeok beach
- Explore the inside cavern of the famous Jeju Island Lava tubes
- Get a self administered foot massage
Saryeoni Forest Trail
I was the first person picked up by the tour guide. Typically, the tour company only picks people up from the city of Jeju. However, in this situation, 90% of the people going in this tour was staying in Seoqwipo. Because of that reason, they made an exception and went to pick up the rest of the tour group members.
This turned out to be good for me because we got a chance to stop by Hala mountain to take a quick picture.
Hala mountain looks great and I look forward to returning one day to trek to the top.
As soon as every tour member was picked up, we headed for our first destination which is the Saryeoni Forest Trail.
From here, we were given up to 30 minutes to take a leisurely walk around the forest. I usually don’t care much about walking around forests because I live in Canada and I’ve done so many forest hikes. But, this forest had a certain tranquility to it that made the short walk very pleasant. (not to mention great for taking some nature pictures)
Lunch at Jeju Island
After our forest hike, our tour guide decided we should grab an early lunch. We went in this Korean restaurant and they definitely fed us a lot of yummy food! I love Korean food and they definitely delivered because I was stuffed to the max!
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
After our sizeable and delicious lunch, we went to Seongsan Ilchulbong peak to begin our hike. The hike itself is not too difficult; though, it can be challenging if you never exercise at all.
I’d have to say, it’s not as picturesque to do this hike in Winter. The grass is brown so you don’t get that sharp green contrast that you can only see during warmer seasons. Regardless, the area is still beautiful and I was happy to do the hike and snap several pictures along the way.
Woman diver show
After completing the hike and getting back down, we proceed down to the small beach. This area is the launching point for the woman diver in Jeju Island.
Jeju Island is a famous city in South Korea for having the highest divorce rate in the whole country. The women in this island is said to be fiercely independent and they don’t need men. As a result, the divorce rate is at an all time high in this city and growing as the years go by.
One trait that clearly show how fierce these women are is their ability to go diving for shellfish even in the middle of winter.
The show begins with the woman divers doing a ritualistic song before proceeding to dive underwater.
Afterwards they jump in the water and start looking for shellfish! Honestly, it’s not really a show, you just watch them swim around the water. But their ritual song was quite good.
Visiting Hamdeok beach would be a lot better if I had done it during the warmer seasons. However, because I visited in March, the wind was very strong and cold making me and the rest of the tour group feel like we are freezing to death.
After we took our obligatory photos, we quickly left before we turn to a bunch of human popsicles.
Jeju Island Lava Tubes
After checking out Hamdeok beach, we were off to my favourite part of the tour: the Jeju Island Lava Tubes. This lava tube is the longest navigable lava tube in the world. The distance of the entire lava tube is about 13.4 KM but only about 1 KM is open to public.
As soon as I hiked down the stairs leading to the cavern, I was mesmerized by what I saw.
The lava tube is beautiful as it is eerie. To think that at one point, massive amounts of lava came through here creating this cave. The hike itself is quite easy as long as you watch your step because it is easy to trip on the ground’s small crevices.
Once you reach the end of the tunnel that is open to the public, you will see one of the largest lava flow preserved in its rocky state. This lava tube is why Jeju Island made it to one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. You won’t find such natural formation anywhere else on this planet.
Self Administered Feet Massage
The final part of our tour takes us to a facility where we will administer a feet massage to ourselves using a sink on the ground. Located in an area with several tiny lava tubes and zip lining activities, we were definitely curious to see what this self administered feet massage is like.
We start off by dipping our feet in hot water that has some ointment in it. From there, we rub some sort of salt all over our feet and begin scrubbing. After scrubbing and rinsing off our feet, we noticed that our foot was noticeably softer. Such a strange activity to do but hey, it’s part of the experience!
We were given some hot tea afterwards to complete this part of the tour.
Overall, I loved my time in Jeju Island and look forward to returning one day. I still haven’t visited the Udo Island on east Jeju as well as trek Mount Hala. There are several museums and natural landscapes located on the western side of the island, not to mention the fun of just hanging out in the city.
I leave this island with fond memories and I highly recommend everyone to visit this island if you need to de-stress or go on a more relaxing or peaceful vacation.