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Kayak Jeju - A viking raid down the Jeju coastPart III - Kayak Jeju, Hado-ri, Gujwa-eup
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승인 2013.06.21  11:04:20
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▲ Photo by Matthew Roscher

This is the third in a three-part series as James Hill visits kayaking spots around the island. In this installment he visits Jeju Kayak, Hado-ri, Gujwa-eup. For part one click here and part two click here.

Kayak Jeju is an outfit that runs out of Hado, north of Seongsan, and just off the 1132 coastal road. Sitting in the shadow of an imposing oreum and amidst a patchwork of small stone-walled fields, it is a prime example of a Jeju village mostly unconcerned with the rest of the world.

I would describe it at length, but unfortunately the tumultuous Jeju rainy season had chosen the Saturday of my visit to blanket the entire eastern side of the island in a thick, low-hanging fog bank. This had the double-edged effect of making everything look really cool, while limiting what we could see to about 50 feet.

▲ Photo by Matthew Roscher

The Kayaks themselves can be fairly easily found. From the Hado-ri Chang-heung-dong (하도리창흥동) bus stop on the coastal route, simply head east toward the sea. The road will lead you to the newly opened Hado beach, and the Jeju Kayak operates a few hundred meters north of there, at the top of the bay.

They aren’t hard to find. Look for a large stack of life vests and keep an eye on the sand for a large bank of brightly coloured kayaks. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk from the bus stop, all told. As we arrived, we were greeted by three men, all of whom spoke good English.

Unlike my previous expeditions, I was not alone in this one. I had emotionally blackmailed/outright blackmailed two compatriots into joining my kayaking crusade, and this proved to be a wise choice. So, thanks to Matt Roscher (our photographer for the expedition) and Tyler Smith (our costume manager, or best boy?) for following me on some damn-fool adventure.

▲ Photo by Matthew Roscher

In other places, there is a fair amount of hand-holding that means even on your own, you’re not really alone. Jeju Kayak, however, were a very relaxed lot, and rather than insisting on a course or sending a guide with us, issued the life vests, asked if we knew what we were doing, and gave us the kayaks.

“Don’t go too far from land” was the only bit of advice we were given. “You will find it hard to get back in the fog”. He wasn’t kidding. We kept close to land, going past the beach with a mandatory play in the (very small) waves there, then headed along the coast a little. Beyond the white sand beaches of Hado, the coast turns immediately back to the imposing cliffs and knife edged rocks that we know and love so much.

▲ Photo by Matthew Roscher

It is undeniably pretty, and by mentally substituting our bright lifejackets for some tanned leather and fur, we could easily have been on a Viking raid in the fog, albeit a very mead-less, undermanned Viking raid.

I’m fairly certain that on a clear day, however, the area would be spectacular. Udo island is right across the way, and Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) would be visible once you clear the headland and the looming hill in the way. The bay is mostly sheltered from large waves by Udo, and provides a pretty safe and shallow area to paddle around in if taking off along the coast seems a bit daunting.

▲ Photo by Matthew Roscher

Seongman, the owner of the company, tells us afterwards that he is looking to “build a kayaking Mecca” at Hado. He’s certainly made a good start on it! The company has a lot of equipment, and can handle large groups. His clients over the last 8 years range from large student groups from the mainland and families through to serious athletes.

The rate he offers is 15,000 won an hour, with a bonus half an hour for anyone who reads this far into the article to know that taking a photo of it and showing it to him will get you the deal. In addition to ‘regular’ kayaking, a whole range of other options including glass kayaks, pedal boats and fishing are offered too, so be sure to throw them an email if that interests you.

Equipment -5/5 – All the equipment I saw was in great shape, and there was plenty of it. There is also a huge variety of kayaks to choose from, ranging in size and style to accommodate nearly any skill set and size.

Location – 3/5 - In terms of beauty, Jeju Kayak is in an excellent place. In terms of accessibility, it’s less ideal. It’s about an hour and a bit to Jeju-si, and even further to Seogwipo by bus, and requires a bit of a walk once you get there. Own transport is highly recommended!

Facilities – 4/5 - Placed a little away from the village centre, Jeju Kayak doesn’t have many shops around it, though they are only a short walk away. There are bathrooms and storage in a building right by the beach that the Kayaks are kept, and if you’re feeling very extravagant, you can even have a shower there.


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