I just returned from a life-changing trip to Jeju Island in South Korea. It truly blew away my already high expectations, and I am excited to share with you my experience on the island!
Before I dive into the thick of this post, I’d like to first say that I lived lived and taught English in South Korea for 2 years. I’ve spent more time in South Korea than any other country besides the USA and I love this country. Korea is still my home away from home; I’ve gone back to visit every year. It’s where I first got started with travel (blogging) as a career, and it’s when I first fell in love with Asia (where I’ve now been living in Asia for 5 years).
And believe it or not, my recent trip to Jeju was my very first time on the island!
It’s no wonder why Jeju is called ‘the Hawaii of South Korea.” From the moment I saw the volcanoes out the plane window scattered around the luscious green terrain, I was hooked.
Jeju is a volcanic island, formed about 2 million years ago, that lies just south of the mainland. The island is actually quite small, just 274 km around the perimeter, but it’s mind-blowing nature and surreal landscapes has given it the prize of 3 UNESCO sites and, most notably, listed as one of the 7 new wonders of nature!
I spent 3 days going all over the Jeju - North to South to East and West. All I can say is that Jeju island lives up to all the hype and more!
If the ever-so-fresh seafood, stunning white sand beaches and wild running horses aren’t enough to peak your interest in Jeju Island, then below are 5 more reasons to visit.
But first, check out my Jeju recap video to see if the island lives up to the hype!
5 Reasons to Visit Jeju
1. Unique Culture:
I love how Jeju retains its unique culture, that has gone back centuries and centuries. The symbol of Jeju, as it’s seen EVERYWHERE, is the stone-carved grandfather statue. They were originally made in 1774, after the former Korean leader demanded Jeju islanders to make 48 of them , and ever since, they have evolved into the face of the island. In addition, Jeju also has about 6,000 lady divers, whose average age is 75 (yes, seventy-five!), and they go out in the sea bare-handed to catch fish. This something very unique to Jeju island!
2. Volcano Heaven:
Jeju island has some 350+ volcanoes, although none of them are active today. You cannot take 2 steps anywhere on Jeju without seeing remnants of a volcano. Believe it or not, 95% of all rocks and stones on land today are made from lava, as you can see from the dark color and natural holes or erosion on the surface of the rocks. Also, many of the craters are within hiking range, so you have the freedom to hike up to the top and take in the stunning views (as you can see above!)
3. Laid Back Vibes:
Jeju island has only 600,000 residents – which is roughly 3% of Seoul’s population on land that’s 3X the size of Seoul’s metropolitan area. Everywhere you go on Jeju island is relaxing. There is no hustle and bustle. There are no tall skyscrapers. There are no honking horns, or even traffic for that matter. Nobody in Jeju in a hurry — which is a really nice change of pace from bustling Seoul.
4. Outdoor Activities:
If you like hiking and trekking, then you’ve come to the right island! Jeju’s natural landscape, from its volcanos, to mountains and valleys, make it a hiking paradise. I discovered that exploring this island by foot is the best way to fully take in the surroundings and appreciate the beauty of the island. On my tour of Jeju, we would often park the car and get out to walk for miles and miles and miles. Also, for all you ocean-lovers, there is scuba diving to see the unique pink and red corals.
5. Romantic Getaway:
It’s no surprise that Jeju is a popular honeymoon destination for both Koreans and foreigners. The island is built for romance. Cute coffee shops, restaurants, stores and even a theme park called Love Land! Jeju island is in such high demand that there are more daily flights from Seoul to Jeju than any 2 destinations in the world – can you imagine that?
It’s hard to cut this list short , as there are dozens of more reasons to fall in love with Jeju. But I hope this sparks your interest to go and see what it’s like for yourself!!! For more information about Jeju, see my travel blog and Facebook page.