▲ This aerial photo gives a bird’s eye view of Biyangdo, a small island just off the west coast of Jeju island. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Govt.
Off the shining blue waters of Jeju’s west coast lies a grassy green knoll of scenic beauty known as Biyangdo. Not only a striking visage from the shores of Hyeopjae Beach on Jeju Island, Biyangdo also offers a small world of wonder just a short boat ride away.
A 15-minute boat ride bridges the two-mile gap from shore to shore. Chartering a local fisherman for the task can be done at Hallim Harbor for 10,000 won.
Biyangdo, which translates to “Flying Island,” is home to some 100 residents who are very well acquainted with the island’s fishing spots of Jeju fame.
Hiking, touring options Legend holds that once upon a time the island of Biyangdo was flying toward Jeju’s western shores and about to collide with a local fishing village when an old woman came out of her home and commanded “stop!” The island obeyed and became Biyangdo, resting just off the coast.
The island has an elementary school with a student population of one: a 10-year-old boy who commutes from Hyeopjae every day by boat from Hallim Harbor. Next year the student population is set to double, when the boy’s sister begins attending.
Upon reaching the Biyangdo harbor the most obvious endeavor is to summit its small peak. Biyangbong Oreum stands 114 meters high, and a short but energetic trek to the peak reveals the beautiful panoramic scenery of Jeju’s coastline to the east and of the seemingly endless expanse of ocean to the west.
A small white lighthouse adds a romantic touch to the summit’s beauty. Take in the peaks and green slopes of the oreum’s crater before descending to the small town below where a local restaurant named Hodori awaits.
Hodori’s claim to fame is shellfish porridge for 8,000 won. An ability to read Hangeul will help you through the ordering process.
Korea’s only sea marsh Using the island’s only road to circumnavigate Biyangdo on foot takes only an hour, but the local bike shop also rents bicycles for 5,000 won a day.
Several unique rock formations along the coast bear testament to its ancient volcanic origins, and a small lava tube on the west coast is worth getting sidetracked for. It’s known locally as “Rock with a Baby on its Back” for the cave formation that looks similar to its name. Admission is free for Jeju residents.
On Biyangdo’s east coast is a grassy area set beside a small lake. This however is no average lake. It is actually Biyang Marsh, the only sea marsh in Korea. During high tide the ocean rises to fill the small gaps and grasslands of the marsh. As the salt water recedes only the freshwater of the lake remains, holding many unique and rare aquatic creatures.
Nearby is a lava rock exhibition hall as well as a lawn perfect for relaxing and taking in the sun.
Those familiar with Korean TV drama may be struck with the feeling they’ve been to Biyangdo before. The picturesque island is where the TV mini-series Spring Day was filmed. Famous scenes from the series were filmed at Biyang School, Biyang Port, and Mingyeongsang shoe store, where memorabilia including pictures and autographs of the cast and crew are on display.
No visit to Jeju’s west coast would be complete without the mini-adventure that is Biyangdo. Hallim Harbor can be found in the town of the same name about a 35-minute drive from Jeju-si on the west coast.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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