An emerald jewel set in the Korea Strait, Jeju Island is a volcanic paradise. The island is Korea’s holiday and honeymoon island boasting gorgeous scenery of rugged peaks, lush forest, swaying palm trees, white coral sand beaches and ancient traditions, distinctly different from the mainland. Whilst all out relaxation is always on the cards, for anyone looking to be a bit more active the island also offers hiking through the incredible crater pitted landscape and diving in coral rich seas.
Jeju City is a relaxed and lively capital located in the shadow of a dormant volcano on the island’s north coast. Full of bars, restaurants and good shopping, the city is also well located for beaches and for explorations of Jeju’s rugged volcanic beauty, with Hallasan National Park just outside of town. Also just on the city boundaries is Jeju Stone Park where you’ll find a range of sculptures on trails that snake across the 327 hectare site, as well as the Jeju Stone Museum, which will educate you on Jeju Island’s fiery birth.
Jeju’s haenyo, or sea-women, have become renowned across South Korea. From the days when men would be away for weeks at a time fishing, these women, who are now an average age of 65 with some still diving at 80 plus, learned to free dive 20-30 metres deep to catch octopus and squid and gather clams and seaweed. You can see them at work today at various spots around the island.
When you see Jeju’s tropical greenery and volcanic crags fringed with innumerable beaches, it isn’t hard to see why it is South Korea’s top holiday destination. Whilst some beaches, backed by lively resorts and swanky five-star resorts are for pure relaxation, it’s still not hard to head out and find somewhere a bit more remote to lay out your towel. Two popular and easy to reach choices are Jungmun, a lively beach of pale sands, greenery and refreshing seas on the south coast, and Iho Tewoo, close to Jeju City, which offers an unusual mix of grey and yellow sands and safe shallow waters.
One of the 62 little islands that dot the ocean just off Jeju, Udo is 3.5 kilometres off Jeju’s east coast. Consisting of a lava plateau and flatlands it is incredibly green and lush – you’ll see crops such as sweet potatoes, garlic and peanuts being cultivated across the island. Highlights include black lava cliffs, the lighthouse, which offers lovely views over the island, and a gorgeous white sand beach, Hongjodangoe Haebin.
A luxury resort located close to the popular Jungmum Beach, the Lotte Hotel is a vibrant and fun place to stay on Jeju Island. Excellent facilities such as the pool, spa and casino give you the option to choose whether to sit back and relax or take part in the action. Nine dining options include the unique garden buffet, after which you can sit back and enjoy the Volcano Fountain show.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.