Jeju Island-Day 3 and 4

On our 3rd day (2nd full day) on Jeju Island, we travelled to the south of the island to the Seogwipo and Jungmun beach resort areas. To add to Jeju’s beauty, there are a handful of waterfalls around the island and we visited 2 of them.  The first we visited was Jeongbang Waterfall. We managed to get to the waterfall early in the morning before the crowds. I don’t think I’ve mentioned but millions of people visit Jeju each year and every 5 minutes a flight lands at Jeju International Airport (Literally, we saw this. It’s crazy the amount of airplanes constantly landing.). My point is, there are many tourists and tour buses you need to try avoid these. We didn’t have too much problems with crowds luckily. Back to Jeongbang Waterfall, this 23m high waterfall is unusual in that it runs from the cliffs directly into the sea. It is the only waterfall to do so in Asia.

Strolling around the trails near Jeongbang Waterfall.

After wondering around the coast near Jeongbang Waterfall, we went to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. This is a beautiful waterfall that runs into a pond. The walk up the river to the waterfall is luscious, calming and very pleasant. 

Walking up to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.

We reached the “Lonely Rock” of Oedolgae just as it decided to start pouring. The weird rock formations around the coast of the island are from the volcanic activity. The rain was cooling and we welcomed it. This pinnacle like rock is believed to have scared off the Mongolians and sent them away. 

Oedolgae.

Our next stop was Jungman. This exclusive area is filled with 5 star hotels and quirky museums. We visited the Teddy Bear Museum. After the rains, the weather became extremely hot and humid and so being indoors was perfect. Korean people love Teddy Bears and this museum is dedicated entirely to them. Teddies can be seen portraying famous historical events and are dressed up as famous icons. The museum is definitely worth a visit and although we were a bit sceptical at first, we all enjoyed it.  We popped into Jungman Beach after the museum. It is one of the most famous beaches on Jeju and has the biggest waves. It has even played host to a few surf competitions. It was absolutely BOILING on the beach (like burn your feet on the sand type boiling) and we were desperate to swim. Of course we got told to stay shallow, even though we were in the swimming area, but the water was amazing. 

Dying of heat on Jungman Beach.

In the afternoon, we went to O’Sulloc Tea Plantation. It was disappointing and I was expecting a tea museum but there was only a few small posters about tea and thousands of people trying to cram their way into the green tea café. Having a car really gave us a lot of freedom just to explore the more rural areas of Jeju and just drive around and see whatever. We had lunch at a Paris Bagette in the small town of Daejeong and then tried to visit the Peace Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed for refurbishment. We really wanted to see the tunnels in the mountains that the Japanese had built during their rule in Korea. The man at the museum was kind enough to show us their entrance. I would have liked to visit this museum the history between Korea and Japan is very sad but interesting.  

O'Sulloc Tea Plantation.

The farms in Jeju are separated by these low walls made from volcanic stone. 

On our last morning before we left Jeju, we had a quick swim at Iho Tewoo beach, the closest beach to Jeju City. We arrived at the beach before anyone had begun setting up for the day (there weren’t even swimming ropes out yet, yay). We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Jeju and its natural beauty. Although there is an endless amount of things to do in Jeju, I think stayed for the right amount of time and we were pleased with what we did. The only other thing we would liked to have done, was hike Mt Hallasan (the third UNESCO site on the island). Mt Hallasan is a dormant volcano and dominates most of the island. Perhaps this will call for a return trip. 

A crisp morning on Iho Tewoo Beach.

View of Mt Hallasan in the distance at the airport.

At the airport-only in Korea.

Jeju Island-Day 2

Our day 2 on Jeju Island was jam-packed. We got up early and headed to the town of Seongsan to visit the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of Ilchulbong or “Sunrise Peak”. Jeju is the first place in the world to receive the UNESCO triple crown. After some dolhareubang chocolates, a quick stop at a black sand beach and breakfast at Starbuck we started our trek up Sunrise Peak. 

Many mandarin oranges grow on the island so there are many orange flavored chocolates and other goods. Oranges weren't in season when we visited but they hang fake oranges on the trees for photo opportunities (of course Korea).

A black sand beach with Sunrise Peak in the background. 

Our neat little car.

Sunrise Peak is a cone type mountain that really looks amazing from aerial views but you can hike up 180m to the crater to look over Seongsan and Udo Island in the distance. 

The busy walk up to the top. 

At the top-looking across the crater.

Looking across to Udo Island. Although a really popular island in Jeju, we didn't manage to visit it. The side of the island looks like a baboon face doesn't it?

When we were in Seongsan we were lucky to see some of the famous Jeju diving grannies. These women dive for shellfish and urchins without any breathing equipment for many minutes. The tradition started when men found loopholes in the law that they would not have to pay tax if their wives did the work. So instead the wives would dive for food and the men would look after the children. Some of these women are as old as 70. The tradition of the diving grannies is fading and so we were lucky to see some.

Getting ready to go diving. She wouldn't let us get a proper picture of her. 

We had a most enjoyable visit to the Jeju Maze Park. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a real maze and it was good fun trying to find our way to the centre to ring the bell. The Jeju Maze Park was actually developed by a western man who loves living in Jeju. He must also love cats because the park has a bit of an underlying cat theme and there are about 20 cats hanging around the entrance. 

Styling in raincoats.

Around the corner from the maze is Manjanggul Cave, another UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. The Majanngul Cave is a long (13km but long about 1km is open to the public) underground cave formed by volcanic eruptions. It is a famous example of lava tubes and it is one of the longest in the world and has many lava features. The cave is quite deep underground and it gets pretty cold (poor Dean didn’t have a jersey and was shivering the whole time). You walk 1km to the end of the cave before you turn around and walk back. The cave really is amazing. It’s difficult to capture the experience of the cave on a camera because it is dark and water droplets sometimes mist up your lense. 

At the end of the 1km tunnel walk. 

Umbrellas are useful to avoid the water drops falling from the cave roof.

Our last stop on our second day in Jeju was Yongduam or “Dragon Head Rock”. The rock formation is along the seafront of Jeju-si and is a big tourist attraction. We visited in the evening and it was very busy. I’m not quite sure what the hype is about but it is clearly very popular. 

Walking along the promenade. 

I'm not quite convinced I can see the dragon...

Jeju Island-Day 1

We were lucky to Visit Jeju Island (known as Jeju-do in Korea)after only having spent a month and a half in Korea. As my mom’s visit coincided with our short school vacation, we decided a trip to one of the world’s 7 wonders was ideal.

Jeju is known to be similar to Hawaii and Bali. The island has everything from natural world wonders, beaches and 5 star resorts, to rural villages and “diving grannies”. The whole island is actually one of the 7 wonders of the world, and it’s not surprising.

As we only had 3 nights in Jeju (2 full days), we researched a fair bit how best to spend our time and make the most of it. Jeju has an endless supply of things to do, both natural and kitsch (check out www.jejumandarins.com for everything you need to know) but we ended up thoroughly enjoying our holiday and we pleased with all the places we managed to visit.

Jeju's famous Dolhareubangs are cute grandfather statues that are all over the island. They are made from volcanic rock and the reason for them is not known.

We stayed in a motel in Sinjeju called Monaco Motel. I have learnt that motels in Korea are really decent and great value for money and so far I have had good experiences with them. Our motel was in a good location around the corner from many shops and restaurants. We also hired a car while we were there (Dean has an international drivers and lucky for us, was brave enough to drive-Korea driving on the opposite side of the road and all). Hiring a car was definitely worth it because I think we would have wasted a lot of time using the buses. Luckily one of Dean’s teachers helped us book a car through a Korean rental company because as we visited Jeju during peak season, only very expensive cars were left for hire at most of the rental companies. 

We were lucky enough to organize cheap flights on eastar jet from Gunsan with the help of our director. A rather interesting flight as it involved a giant game of rock/paper/scissors. 

On our first day, after fetching our car and briefly checking into our motel, we drove to Hallim Park. Hallim Park basically gives you a taste of the whole of Jeju in one park. It has caves, stone statues, flower gardens, bonsai gardens and Jeju houses. It's ideal if you don't have much time on the island. It is a relaxing place to visit, with not many crowds and it is lovely to stroll around. 

Entrance to the caves.

Inside the lava caves at Hallim Park.

That's how you grow a bonsai! 

Diving grannies! (More on this later)

Near Hallim Park is Hyeopjae Beach. We stopped here for a quick swim in the evening. Korean beaches are really frustrating as they fence your swimming area. Many Koreans don’t know how to swim and it really irritated us that we couldn’t properly enjoy swimming in the warm water

An island in the distance. Many small islands are scattered around the cost of Jeju.