When you put the words island and South Korea together in one sentence, there’s one place that easily comes to mind—Jeju Island, also known as Jejudo. Nothing surprising about that, though, since this bean-shaped patch of land lying just below the Korean Peninsula is a top holiday destination, drawing tourists by the millions annually. It’s also a place of immense beauty, earning a well-deserved spot on the list of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
But here’s the thing: Jejudo isn’t the only island worth-exploring in Korea. And if you’re up for an exciting island adventure, you’ll be thrilled to know that the South Korean coast boasts 3,358 islands that offer spectacular views as well as unique experiences.
Here are seven stunning islands you might want to visit on your trip to the Land of the Morning Calm:
If you want a healing escape, Ulleungdo might just be the perfect place to go for you. Tagged as the “Mysterious Island,” this popular vacation destination situated 120 kilometers off the eastern coast of South Korea is characterized by calm waves crashing on its shores, caves, waterfalls, and more. It’s also a major fishery, which practically means it’s where you can feast on some great seafood.
Recognized as the first “Slow City” in Asia, the island of pastoral allure that is Cheongsando encourages visitors to take things easy and just enjoy the beautiful scenery it offers—from dazzling views of the sea to sweeping flower fields, especially in spring.
Small Hongdo is big on picturesque sights. Aside from unique rocky cliffs that line its shores and other peculiar geological formations, it also treats visitors to brilliant sunrises and sunsets. In fact, the reason why it’s named Hong island—or crimson island—is because the entire island is washed over with crimson light as the sun sets.
When you think of islands, images of beaches or awe-inspiring coastlines flood your mind, but those are not exactly Ganghwado’s best-known features. The fifth largest island in South Korea is actually home to numerous mountains with 468-meter Manisan as the tallest and most popular. If you’re a fan of hiking or trekking, you’ll definitely enjoy your time here.
The name of this island will probably ring a bell to dog lovers. After all, it’s where the domestic hunting breed originated. It’s also part of the region considered as the birthplace of Korean folk music genres. Its most popular song? Jindo Arirang. But as though this island couldn’t get even more fascinating, it also conceals a road in the middle of the sea that connects it to neighboring Modo. This road appears once a year, either in February or March, and to celebrate it, locals host a massive festival that is attended by thousands. The main event, of course, is crossing the sea on foot, which conjures a scene reminiscent of the biblical exodus.
In terms of size, Geojedo is the second largest island in Korea, following Jejudo. It lies on the southern tip of the country and has a thriving tourist industry. Among its biggest draws are the “Hill of the Wind,” a lush and grassy hill by the sea and the Hakdong Black Pearl Mongdol Beach, which is best known for its black pebble beach.
What once was an unspoiled subtropical island, Oedo saw major developments in the 1970s until it became a massive and full-blown botanical attraction, boasting over 3,000 plant species. The 132-square kilometer garden 4 kilometers off Geojedo is beautifully landscaped and features Mediterranean-inspired columns and statues, making it an ideal filming location for romantic K-Drama scenes. It has appeared on hit shows like Winter Sonata and the more recent Hospital Ship.
Before you embark on your journey through South Korea’s breathtaking islands, make sure you’ve got a travel SIM card on the ready, in case you want to share your adventures with friends and family back home!