▲ Jungmun beach in southwest Jeju is the premier beach on the island and is popular with visitor and locals alike. Jeju offers beaches with something for everyone, from noisy and exciting to quiet and secluded. Photo by Jonathan Starr
It is summertime and the streets of Jeju are alive with beach season. Parasols, mats and hats fill the shops, freezer boxes are crammed with bottles of water and ice cream and the children don their visors as their parents smother them with sun block.
For visitors and residents alike it is time to head for the coast as beyond the heat of the city streets, beeping taxis and bustling shops lies the irresistible escape offered by Jeju’s sandy shores.
While Jeju boasts more than a dozen sprawling beaches and countless sandy, secluded nooks and crannies, three of the most popular beaches are Hamdoek, Hyeopjae and Jungmun.
▲ Hamdeok beach, in northeastern Jeju Island, features a large shallow area and a plethora of amenities, including showers, toilets, vendors who rent inflatable dinghies and kayaks. Kids may particularly get a kick out of the banana boat rides. Photo by Jonathan Starr
Hamdoek easily reach from Jeju-si Hamdeok beach, also known as Hamdeok Seowubong Haebyon, on the northeast coast encompasses two beaches: a larger one popular with Korean families and a slightly smaller one which has become a favorite among foreign residents. Neil Prendergast, an EPIK teacher living in Shin Jeju, feels that Hamdeok is a perfect get-away, “It’s a great place to go on the weekends, play some beach sports and chill out,” he said, while doing just that.
On any given weekend groups of friends and families gather here to relax in the seclusion provided by the volcanic rocks and the magnificence of Seowubong, an imposing peak at the eastern end of the beach. Those feeling energetic swim out into the ocean with their snorkel gear to catch a glimpse of Jeju’s aquatic life or climb Seowubong to admire its breathtaking views of the coastline. Toward the western end of the beach stands the beautiful stone bridge that has come to represent Hamdeok beach. Guarded by Stone Grandfather sentries, it offers a great view of the peak and makes for some wonderful photo opportunities.
Nearby shops, including a Family Mart, provide snack supplies and as well as the usual beach mats and snorkel equipment, the chance to rent inflatable dinghies and kayaks. Banana boat rides are also available for those seeking a thrill. Showers and toilets are located right next to the beach, which is excellent for those wishing to camp on the sand or on the grassy area a stone’s throw away. There are also several minbaks and pensions in the area for those preferring a roof and a bed.
Hamdeok Seowubong beach is an hour’s bus ride from Shin Jeju’s main bus terminal, on the number 20 bus.
▲ Bijang-do shimmers just off the shore of Hyeopjae beach, which is popular with families and boasts a beautiful white sand beach. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Government
Hyeopjae soft sand is crushed seashells West of Jeju City lies Hyeopjae beach. A few minutes from Hallim Park on the west coast of the island, Hyeopjae provides an extremely rich beach experience. Combined with its close neighbor Geunmeung beach, it is a true gem of Jeju Island. The beach is around 200m long and is striking in the whiteness of its sand, that is, thanks to the crushed seashells that help form it, also delightfully fine and soft.
The sand combined with Jeju’s crystal-blue waters creates a location of picture-postcard beauty especially with the striking view of Bijang islet just off the coast. Practical concerns are taken care of as showers, drinking fountains and shelters are provided and shops and cafes are abundant. Visitors can picnic on the beach, or choose from Japanese food, fried chicken, herb burgers and seafood in one of the many restaurants nearby. A large grassed area shaded by tall evergreens also provides the perfect place to camp after watching the sun go down over the ocean.
Previously a resident of Hallim, Jeff Cenedella, an American English teacher, was a frequent visitor of Hyeopjae. “It is a great family beach that is safe, clean, and you don't see too many westerners,” he said.
Hyeopjae is an hour’s bus ride from Shin Jeju, on the rural bus heading to Hallim.
Jungmun is popular with surfers, tourists Situated on the south coast near Seogwipo-si is Jungmun, Jeju’s most famous beach and largest tourist resort. Surrounded by vivid trees and plants creating an exotic atmosphere, the great surf of Jungmun beach draws visitors and their boards from all over the island and beyond.
It is around 560m long and its unique sand is a mixture of white, red and black grains blended with Jeju’s Hyeonmuam volcanic black stones. Beyond the sand, trees and bushes provide a unique backdrop for relaxing as the only building to be seen is the Hyatt hotel in the distance. Wooden gazebos among the palms offer shade and a place away from beach activities to watch the surfers catching waves.
“Of all the beaches Jungmun is definitely one of my favorites,” said Ruth Allan, an EPIK teacher from Shin Jeju who often travels to Jungmun on the weekends. “It’s beautiful, so picturesque.”
Supplies can be found at the small stores right on the shore and nearby seafood cafes offer fresh meals alongside tubs of ramen noodles. A surfboard rental facility is also available as is yacht chartering for something extra special.
For those wishing to experience an energetic and lively beach atmosphere, Jungmun is the ideal choice. In the summer months the sand is crowded with parasols and beach-goers playing volleyball, Frisbee and many other beach sports. Surfers lean on their boards taking a rest before going back in for the next wave while friends gather together to listen to music and enjoy a beer as they watch the goings-on around them.
Jungmun can be reached by the free shuttle bus to Geckos restaurant in Jungmum, or by bus from the Jeju and Seogwipo bus terminals.
Know before you go Jeju’s beaches have been awarded ISO 9001 safety certification and safety notices and lifeguards are provided at every location during beach season. All the beaches in Jeju-si are designated as non-smoking areas.
Beach season on Jeju officially begins June 27 and runs through Sept. 6 in Jeju City and August 31 in Seogwipo. The beaches are open at night between July 17 and Aug. 16.
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