Asia,  South Korea,  Travel Diary

Our First Day on Jeju Island

After a nice ‘american’ breakfast (we weren’t ready for abalone yet ;-)) with a local touch, we jumped into our little Kia and started our journey towards the East of Jeju. Our first destination was Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산 일출봉) which is one of Jeju’s main attractions.

During our one and a half-hour car ride, we made a few stops along the way to get a first impression of Jeju’s landscape. We stopped at a parking lot near the ocean and got a coffee at a little coffee shop nearby (probably around here, cannot find it on Google Maps). The owner of the coffee shop was so lovely, he gave us a few tips on what to do next. He also explained to us that there are coastal hiking paths all around the island which are called Olle Trails. You can usually find your nearest Olle Trail if you just type in ‘olle course’ into Kakaomaps.

We followed his recommendations and followed the road along the coast towards the East. Along this road, there are plenty of smaller parking spaces to stop, take pictures and explore the beautiful landscape. For example here.

After a couple more beautiful stops we arrived at Seongsan. There is a huge parking area which was free of charge. Around the corner, there are plenty of (seafood) restaurants. We involuntarily chose seafood soup. It consisted of crab, shrimp, and some clams. Especially abalone which is a local specialty food. It might be just your taste if you are really into clams. Abalone are huge clams resembling an octopus (in our humble opinion). So it is rather an option for seafood lovers. If you only ‘tolerate’ this much variety of seafood like we do, maybe just go next door for the only gimbap place we noticed… and unfortunately didn’t choose to eat at… 😀

After that, we started our little hike. If you would like to walk to the top as we did, there is an entrance fee (something around 5k₩ per Person). The walk to the top is really cool and consists mainly out of wooden stairs. While it is quite steep it is still a comfortable hike as the view is getting better and better. At the ‘peak’ there is a viewing terrace, this way you can overlook the island as well as the crater.

Next, we decided to explore the less famous parts of the island a little more by driving along the coastal streets without a particular destination. We have chosen to drive to the North from Seongsan. We stopped at a few parking lots whenever the landscape was appealing to us.

After our little exploration, we headed to our last stop of the day – Seopjikoji (섭지코지). Like Seongsan this spot is extremely popular so you can expect a huge parking lot, toilets as well as easy to walk paths. There weren’t any entrance fees for this path. However, you have to pay for the parking lot if you are leaving before 6pm (why is that? Good question, if anybody finds out how this makes sense, do tell us :-D).

Along the way, there was also a (weird) ‘gingerbread house’, which had been closed down. There’s also a restaurant with a great view of the waterfront as well as a small picturesque lighthouse

If you can not grasp why there was a giant mansion that looked like it was made up of gingerbread, you needn’t worry! We could also not really believe our eyes when we first saw it. As to why we think the gingerbread house was there: Unfortunately, Jeju is not only a beautiful spot for observing nature but it seems to be deemed necessary to also add even more sights to make people want to take even more photos. While we do not have any issues with people taking lots of snapshots of themselves, nature or their food (we do this A LOT…), closed down places like these in the middle of a natural sight look kind of sad. We observed this issue at multiple places where main sights on Jeju were located. Of course, it is understandable that an island that is pretty much focused on tourists would do something like this, but maybe ‘less is more’ really applies here, at least that’s our opinion.

Nevertheless, Jeju is a beautiful place to spend some relaxed days and soak up all the ocean energy you need! Overall, it has a very European flair in terms of nature with an interesting twist because it’s a part of Korea and you can see Koreas beautiful culture in every nook and cranny on the island.

Here are some more impressions at our evening location. As you can see, even with quite a couple of tourist buses in the offseason, it is absolutely manageable to take shots which make the place seem empty and calm. Waiting for the sunset at this location was definitely a nice decision, as the place got less busy by the minute, as you can see in the following pictures 🙂

Do not miss the beautiful sunset at this beautiful corner of Jeju 🙂