This is the welcome sign I saw when I first arrived in Jeju!
Jeju Island is South Korea’s largest island with numerous beaches and waterfalls, making it the perfect place to escape from city life in Seoul. In addition to beaches, Jeju Island is home to Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano that is the highest point in South Korea at 1,947 meters or 6,388 feet. Another charming feature of Jeju is that it has its own culture and unique traits that you will only find on the island, such as mandarin oranges, black pork, and the Jeju horse breed. Here is a list of my top 10 things to do while on Jeju Island!
1. Jeju Mandarin Oranges
The first item on my list to try is the Jeju mandarin oranges. These oranges are grown locally on the island and many markets feature homemade mandarin orange juice, orange-flavored Oreos, and orange-themed souvenirs. I even found a cafe that had homemade mandarin orange bagels and cream cheese!
2. Black Pork
The second item I recommend trying is the black pork that comes from the island’s breed of domestic pigs with black skin. You can find this pork anywhere on the island and there is even a whole street dedicated to black pork in Jeju City.
3. Iho Tewoo Beach
My third recommendation is to go to Iho Tewoo beach. This beach is famous for its red and white horse-shaped lighthouses. People come here to surf and the beach is lined with many fun cafes and restaurants where you can refuel after a long day in the sun!
4. Hallasan Mountain
The fourth thing on my list is hiking Hallasan Mountain. Many trails lead to the summit, offering various levels of difficulty based on your hiking experience. I took one of the easier trails up to the summit as this was the first real hike I have ever done. However, one downfall of this trail is that there are not many views of the city below. Additionally, I was in the clouds at the summit and could not see much, so I took a more difficult trail back down the mountain to see better views of Jeju City while descending.
5. Waterfalls of Seogwipo
My fifth recommendation is to visit the two waterfalls near the city of Seogwipo. The first waterfall is Jeongbang, which is the only waterfall in Asia that directly falls into the ocean. Make sure to wear good shoes as you have to walk down many stairs and across rocks to reach a good spot to take photos here! The second waterfall I recommend is Cheonijiyeon which means “God’s Pond” and according to legend, seven fairies came down and bathed in its waters.
6. Oedolgae Rock
The sixth recommendation on my list is visiting Oedolgae Rock. This rock was formed when Hallasan erupted about 150,000 years ago and has since been carved by wave erosion. Legend has it that the rock is an older woman who waited so long for her husband to return from fishing that she turned into rock.
7. Jusangjeolli Cliff
The seventh item on my list is Jusangjeolli Cliff which also formed when Hallasan erupted and the lava flowed into the sea of Jungmun. The cliff is made up of hexagonal rock pillars that formed when the lava rapidly cooled as it flowed into the sea.
8. Manjanggul Lava Tube
My eighth recommendation is Manjanggul Lava Tube. This lava tube is one of the longest in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These lava tubes are home to many different cave formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, lava shelves, and lava rafts. In addition, Manjanggul is home to the world’s highest lava column that is about 7.6 meters high!
9. Alive Museum
The ninth thing I recommend doing while on Jeju Island is visiting the Alive Museum which is a theme park filled with interactive optical illusions. I had never been to a museum like this before, so I really enjoyed going through the five themes and taking pictures along the way with my friends.
10. Udo Island
Finally, I recommend traveling to Udo Island for a day trip. Udo is a small island formed by basaltic lava and is just a 15-minute ferry ride off Jeju’s east coast. Just outside the port, there are dozens of shops where you can rent scooters or electric bikes which make exploring the island even easier. I spent the day biking along Udo’s coast to explore the beaches, caves, and cafes. In addition, the island is known for its peanut ice cream which you cannot get anywhere else. Of course, I had to try this, and it was so good!
Jeju is often referred to as the Hawaii of Korea and after exploring the island, I can see why. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Jeju and highly recommend traveling to both Jeju and Udo!
Ryan Burton is a student at the University of Kentucky. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.