It goes without saying that Jeju Island is blessed with clear ocean and cool, clean spring water. This makes it a great place to enjoy natural marine and coastal scenery.
The sea around Jeju is emerald green, and in mid-summer the natural freshwater springs hover around a cool 17 degrees. Wherever you choose to swim on Jeju Island, you’re assured a memorable and beautiful experience in nature. Here are 10 ideas to get you started!
Jeju’s volcanic geology means that rainwater filters through the ground, rather than pooling in lakes and streams. This water then emerges along the shoreline in natural freshwater springs where islanders traditionally congregated to collect drinking water and to bathe.
Having filtered through the ground for an extended period of time, this spring water is generally very pure, cold, and thought to have medicinal qualities like curing muscular pain and neuralgia.
There are over 600 such springs found around the island, and more than 100 come out at the ocean. Some examples of open air fresh water baths on Jeju include Sonammeori in Seogwipo, Samyang-dong Keunmul, Dodu Oraemul, and Sinchon-ri Keunmul.
2. Hyodoncheon Stream Trekking and Harye-ri Eco Party: Explore Jeju
There’s a very special summer experience which entails navigating gaps between huge boulders as you trek along a natural lava valley riverbed at Hyodoncheon Stream. This eco-tourism program, which is led by local residents of Harye-ri Village, offers participants a sense of accomplishment not unlike that you experience when doing extreme sports.
The 700-meter trek is part of a larger two-kilometer path which runs from Geolseoak to Janggudo. If you’d like to try this unique experience for yourself, you need to be over 14 years of age. The fee is 20,000 won per person.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, July 22 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. there will be an “Eco Party” event which includes the stream trek mentioned above, a walk through Gosalli Trail in Namwon-eup, and even a clam digging experience program at Harye-ri.
The day wouldn’t be complete without some great local food, so homemade treats such as seafood soup with seaweed and a drink made from a local plant, the Waxberry, are also included. For more information on the trekking experience, please call 064-767-0144, or 064-784-4256 for the Eco Party.
3. Sombancheon and Gangjeongcheon streams, Namwon Yongam Seawater Swimming Pool, Yerae-dong Nonjitmul, Hwasun Yongcheon Pool: Great spring water fun for kids
If you are tired of artificial water parks, then consider Jeju for its natural water playground. In the heat of the summer, the temperature of the underground spring water here remains between 15 to 17 degrees, so you can cool off immediately after you dive in.
Sombancheon and Gangjeongcheon streams in Seogwipo are famous natural landmarks where you can enjoy Jeju’s clean water amid the full splendor of the great outdoors.
Gangjeongcheon is shallow, so it’s a perfect stream for families to enjoy while relaxing under the nearby shade of trees.
Jeju Namwon Yongam Seawater Swimming Pool uses clean magma seawater that is rich in minerals and nutrients while and Hwasun Yongcheon Pool is a fun and safe place for children to play.
Yerae-dong Nonjitmul is a place where Jeju islanders can enjoy a dip in the sea that is infused with naturally occurring fresh spring water.
Summer is coming and Jeju is ready to greet it with its cool beaches. The list is long and illustrious: Geumneung, Iho Tewoo and Hamdeok all open on June 24; Samyang, Gimnyeong, Gwakji, Jungmun Saekdal, Hwasun Golden Sand Beach, Sinyangseopji and Pyoseon all open a week later on July 1. If you’re interested in a night swim, Hyeopjae, Samyang and Iho Tewoo are open through 9 p.m.
Each of these beaches has characteristics that make it unique. Hyeopjae and Geumneung are located within view of Biyangdo Island and many eco-friendly wind turbines in the area.
Gwakji is famous for its traditional open air sea bath, Iho Tewoo is near the city and the airport, and Gimnyeong has beautiful panoramas of Hallasan Mountain and many oreum (volcanic cones) that dot the skyline east of Jeju City.
Jungmun Saekdal Beach is so famous that it needs no introduction, while Sinyangseopji Beach has a spectacular view of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Seongsan Sunrise Peak.
Where ever you chose to swim on Jeju Island, you’re assured a memorable and beautiful experience in nature.
5. Night fishing for squid: View Jeju’s shore at night, taste the seafood you caught yourself
From June, the weather is nice enough to board a small fishing vessel and sail out into the waters around Jeju Island. You depart port at around 7 p.m and soon night falls and the inky waves surrounding the boat shimmer under the light of the moon.
Around you, other fishing boats dot the horizon, working their way through the night and twinkling in the distance like Christmas lights. These strings of bright sodium lights attract anchovy, mackerel and squid from the depths to hook themselves on your line as you enjoy a fishing experience program for a few hours.
There are plenty of Jeju ports to choose from if you’d like to arrange to try some night fishing. Iho, Dodu, Hahyo, and Gosan just to name a few. The cost per person is about 50,000 won, and you can keep what you catch. Fishing on the ocean is never easy, so be prepared to feel seasick.
6. Wild Dolphins Exploration Tour with Jeju Fishermen, Gimnyeong Yacht Tour: Dolphin discoveries
How would you like to view dolphins swimming in the ocean instead of an aquarium?
The ‘Wild Dolphins Exploration Tour with Jeju Fishermen’ is a 50-minute program to observe the dolphins which inhabit the south coast of Jeju Island.
The organizers are careful to stay at least 50 meters away from these protected, wild creatures, and it’s said you’ll have an 80 percent chance to see at least a few of these graceful creatures.
You might not go to sea specifically to see dolphins, but there are times when dolphins also appear during a yachting experience.
They say that dolphins appear once every two days in waters of the Gimnyeong area of Jeju’s northern coast. It is here that you can take the Gimnyeong Yacht Tour and perhaps accomplish both objectives at one time. On the south coast, the Shangri-La Yacht Tour in Jungmun has a similar program.
7. Jeju diving women experience program: ‘A day with the haenyeo’
The diving women of Jeju have been beacons of leadership and endurance for centuries. They spend hours in harsh maritime conditions, fishing without supplemental oxygen or spearguns.
In recent years an experience program has been developed to give visitors a sense of the work, history and culture of these remarkable women. A number of fishing villages offer classes on these sorts of environmentally friendly diving techniques, as well as practical lessons in the water and with the traditional haenyeo gear.
Hado Village (064-783-1996) has the largest number of haenyeo in Jeju Island and is a place where you can meet diving women in person and learn from them. The Beophwan Fishing Cooperative (064-739-7508) has classes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In July and August, the Sagye Fishing Experience Village (064-792-3090) offers classes, but with no set time.
You can try collecting turban shells at the locations mentioned above, but please keep in mind that you’ll have to make a reservation for all three experience programs. Fees are in the 20,000 to 30,000 won range.
There is one more underwater activity that can be enjoyed on Jeju even by those who aren’t strong swimmers. Not unlike divers, you can don a dive suit and helmet to breath and see your submarine surroundings with ease.
The experience program lasts about 40 minutes (with an additional 1 hour of training included) for a fee of 40,000 won. You can find this kind of diving experience at Hamo Sea Walking, Seogwipo Sea Walking Scuba Resort, Iho Land, Haeyang Leisure Sea Walker, and around Seongsan Sunrise Peak at Jeju Ocean Park, among other locations.
8. Kayaking & parasailing: A top-flight experience at sea
There’s a kind of transparent sea kayak that treats you to a clear, blue view of your undersea surroundings. On a sunny day, when the conditions are just so, you can feel like a leaf delicately floating across an emerald sea. There are daily 1-hour programs held at alternating sites around the coast, primarily at Hado, Udo, Aewol and Ojo Village.
There’s also more conventional kayaking programs on offer at Hamdeok and Beophwan. You can even combine kayaking and fishing or enroll in a 2-day expert kayaking course.
Up above the rolling ocean waves, thrilling swoops and swirls of the parasailers captivate earth-bound observers. Depending on weather conditions and visibility, you can travel 100 to 200 meters up in the air, with ocean and mountain panoramas that will take your breath away.
The anticipation, excitement, and great memories of that parasailing hour or so will last you a lifetime. There are programs at Jungmun and Daepo Harbor, among other locations.
9. Soesokkak Black Sand Festival, Samyang Black Sand Festival: 'Hotter than summer'
Jeju Island has many beach festivals where the participants themselves take center stage. For example, the Samyang Black Sand Festival is held at Samyang Beach on July 28 and 29. There you can enjoy a free black sand “bath”, try some windsurfing or snorkeling, or various other fun activities.
The opening ceremony at 8 p.m features some spectacular fireworks with the sea as the backdrop. There’s also a music festival and diving experience program for children.
10. Watermelon juice, Jeju shaved ice: Delicious treats for those dry summer blues
During the hot and humid summer months, your skin can get very irritated. The large, plump watermelon is a fruit that brings to mind cool, fresh relief in the form of a restorative, moisturizing balm… not to mention being a delicious treat.
Another quintessential and highly sought after summer treat is shaved ice. The ice can be water or milk, and combined in a dessert that cools and rehydrates the body.
On Jeju Island, shaved ice enthusiasts have come up with new and unique Jeju-like designs for their creations. For example, a Hallasan Mountain-shaped mound of shaved ice topped with green tea syrup resembling the forest. This kind of dish is both refreshing and delicious, and of course great fun to eat!
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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