Jeju Island: Beautiful Coasts and World Heritage Sites

I had a week vacation at the end of July and chose to head to Jeju Island. Jeju is Korea's largest island, just off the southern coast. It's famous within Korea for it's nature, oranges, beaches and horses. It's very popular as a tourist destination and honeymoon spot, which sometimes leads it to be called the "Hawaii of Korea." So far as I know they are nothing alike.

I flew on Jeju Air from Seoul's Incheon Airport. As you can see my knees were touching the seat in front of me, I had zero room. At 185cm/6'1" tall, I am apparently too tall for Korea.

Seoul is covered in high rise apartment complexes.

Not Jeju Island.

This little guy is a Hareubang. Statues and depictions of them are all over Jeju and they serve as a mascot for the island.

The shores make it very evident that Jeju is a volcanic island, formed entirely by eruptions millions of years ago.

Being an island not terribly close to the mainland, fishing is a huge industry in Jeju.

Despite its huge tourism industry, Jeju is mostly a series of small towns with a few medium sized cities here and there. It absolutely has a small town feel with a much slower pace than the bustling capital.

The most famous landmark on Jeju is Hallasan, a dormant volcano that created the island and is the largest mountain in South Korea. This is not Hallasan. Due to the summer weather, Hallasan was always under a shroud of clouds while I was around. This is Seongsan. But I think Seongsan is much more attractive. It looks as though it's a funny shaped rock that someone accidentally dropped on the coast. There isn't much else around it, it's a very stark mountain to see.

Chinese tourists and the view from the top of Seongsan. There were a lot of Chinese tourists.

Udo, the name literally means "cow island." It's supposed to look like a cow laying down. I don't see it...Okay, maybe I do...a little bit.

Rice and windmills as a farmer burns trash in the background.

The Jeju coast is not littered with beaches but the few I found were exceptionally nice.

This is Hyeopjae Beach (pronounced Hyup-jay) easily my favorite and the most beautiful.

Whenever I showed friends this picture they were all astonished it was taken in their native Korea. Possibly the most beautiful beach in Korea.

I rode the bus everywhere in Jeju, not a mode of transportation I recommend as they run fairly infrequently. I would often lose myself out the window on my way to no particular destination. An announcement would come on the speakers. All I would catch was "...beach" and excitedly get off the bus. Only then realizing that the announcement was stating that the beach was the next stop. Leaving me to walk up to 45 minutes to the beach. It's worth mentioning that the announcements on the buses were made in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese, 3 of which I should at least be able to understand the words for "next stop." But, it was a nice way to explore and that's how I found this quaint marina.

And the quaint marina's even quainter convenience store.

A framed boat.

My mom always complains that I never take any pictures of myself when I travel. This is for you mom!

Manjang Cave is one of the longest lava tubes in the world. It was a very neat place, but best aspect was the temperature. Jeju weather was pretty hot, it was usually around 35° C (95° F) the whole time I was there, and very sunny. As soon as you descend the stairs into Manjang Cave the temperature immediately drops down to 12° C (54° F), it was completely bizarre and an utterly awesome way to cool down.

A nice reminder that I am indeed in Korea.

Jeonbokjuk (Juhn-bok-jook), a Jeju specialty. Rice porridge and abalone, it's known throughout the country as being quite healthy, it's known by me as being quite delicious. For those unfamiliar with Korean food you're probably noticing all the side dishes. Virtually every single meal in Korea will have some sort of side dish, it's a part of life here. It's not uncommon to have more than 6 dishes to accompany your meal. There will always be kimchi and probably something else that has been pickled and fermented. Here we have, clockwise from the left, green beans, kimchi'd fish, standard kimchi, marinated anchovies, kimchi'd sesame leaves and a type of seaweed.

My typical view out of a bus window.

A throng of seafood restaurants at Jeju Harbor.

Plenty of people were shooting roman candles off at Jeju Harbor, I doubt there was a special occasion other than to enjoy the sparks.

This bus driver kept stuff animals on his bus door.

Jeju City at sunset

This man stared at the airport during the sunset, the sun being in the exact opposite direction, for more than 20 minutes.

A nice, wandering summer vacation.