Although less well-known than Jeju’s more tourist-oriented beaches, the shores on Jeju’s north coast offer much variety and relaxation for local residents. For Iho and Samyang beaches the months of July and August look to be especially eventful.
Beneath a starry sky the waves roll in to break gently against Iho’s shoreline. Along the beachfront, white tents are lit by red and orange hanging lanterns, casting a warm glow upon the people chatting and drinking together on wooden benches below. Along the pier a string of lights slowly cycles through the color spectrum, creating a festive atmosphere on an ordinary summer’s evening.
▲ Colorful lights add a festive touch to Iho Tewoo beach at night. This is the first season the popular beach in Jeju city has officially been open at night. Photo by Jonathan Starr
Iho now open at night This is the first year that Iho beach has been officially open after sundown and it is already gaining a reputation as an ideal destination for city dwellers to meet and relax in the evenings. This is largely thanks to its inclusive atmosphere as Korean residents and foreigners alike gather together to share a few beers or listen to music. It also has much to offer for the daytime visitor. Soft sand, plenty of camping areas and Jeju’s first hot water beach showers ensure that it is not forgotten in favor of Jeju’s more famous beaches.
Since the opening of the beach season on June 17, Iho beach has received around 33,000 visitors; almost twice as many as the same period last year. Its profile has also been raised thanks to its name change. While previously known simply as “Iho beach,” it is now known as “Iho Tewoo” beach, after the traditional wooden boat that has historically been located there. A tewoo can be seen on the sand, positioned just before the bridge, complete with a large fishing net leaving no ambiguity as to the boat’s original purpose. The Jeju government is keen to revive the tradition of fishing using tewoos and Iho Tewoo beach will host Jeju’s first Tewoo Festival Aug. 7-9.
▲ Iho beach was recently renamed Iho Tewoo beach in honor of the traditional Jeju fishing raft, the Tewoo. Here, a stylized Tewoo rests on the beach, seemingly awaiting only a captain. Photo by Jonathan Starr
The activities begin on Iho Tewoo beach at 6 p.m., Aug. 7 with windsurfing and yachting. Later that evening a fireworks display and torch lighting will entertain visitors before the festival’s opening ceremony begins. The next day a singing contest will be held before the festival’s main attraction – the opportunity to participate in fishing for anchovies using a traditional tewoo boat. Sunday’s activities include the final of the singing competition and a tug-of-war contest, followed by kite flying and the closing ceremony. Other activities will include beach soccer and tewoo clay modeling for children.
Samyang known for volcanic black sand Recently renamed “Samyang Black Sand beach” after the famous black sand that can be found there, Samyang is one of the lesser-known of Jeju’s beaches. The sand itself, made from pulverized volcanic basalt, appears an almost smoky, charcoal color when dry and is some of the softest sand Jeju has to offer. Wonderful for the skin, it soothes and refreshes as well as offering some perhaps more vital medicinal benefits.
▲ A group of beachgoers pile sand on a friend. Photo by Jonathan Starr
Many people travel to Samyang for a black sand “bath” which involves lying in a pre-dug pit and being covered with sand. It is thought this can help ease neuralgia, arthritis and also dermatitis. It can also be especially useful for those suffering from athlete’s foot. The usual practical concerns are taken care of with showers, changing rooms and toilets provided on-site and an especially good restaurant, The Lighthouse, is located at the far end, offering a variety of Western food.
To encourage locals and visitors to try a sand bath, Samyang Black Sand beach will hold a Black Sand festival from July 30 through Aug. 1. Beachgoers can experience the wonderful relaxing nature of being almost completely buried in hot sand as well as watching or participating in the windsurfing or the beach soccer tournament. Young children will also be entertained with face-painting and the opportunity to make sand sculptures.
▲ Jeju youngsters are buried up to their necks in a sand bath, or sand jjimjil, at Samyang Black Sand beach. The volcanic black sand is thought to have therapeutic benefits for sand bathers. Photo by Jonathan Starr
Samyang Black Sand beach is located east of Dragon’s Head Rock at Yong-dam and is easily reachable by bus from the main bus terminal. Iho Tewoo beach is northwest of Jeju City and can be reached by a 15 minute bus ride from the main bus terminal.
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