The Ultimate Jeju Island Guide – 12 Things to do on Jeju Island – Bangawoyo Tours

by Mike Still
things to do in Jeju Island

Jeju Island‘s white sand beaches, giant waterfalls and amazing swimming holes give it the nickname “Korea’s Hawaii.” Get ready to know some cool things to do in Jeju Island.   Jeju is a 4-hour ferry ride south of mainland South Korea putting it in sub-tropical waters.  It’s a large island so be sure to give yourself a few days to explore Jeju. I joined my old SHG friend Johnny’s group Bangawoyo Tours for a 5-day “kick-in” it on Jeju Island over Chuseok and it was simply fantastic!

Jeju Island

Sunset at Gwakji Beach

This guide will take you around Jeju following our route on a group tour.  It will tell you everything you need to know about this Korean paradise. If you want to enjoy all the “things to do in Jeju Island” then I’d highly recommend joining a group tour for Jeju but plenty of travelers do it solo by renting a car.


Getting to Jeju Island

Ferries are how most tour groups get to Jeju and take about 4 hours from the mainland at Wando Port or 5 hours from Mokpo port. They are large boats with plenty of room to relax.  Depending on the size of your vessel it will have everything from a convenience store to full restaurants and karaoke rooms!
Prices range from 20,000 – 50,000won depending on the ferry and type of ticket.

Most solo travelers go off-peak and get a cheap round trip flight for less than 100,000won.


Gwakji Beach FREE

Gwakji BeachAfter an overnight bus ride and a morning ferry, we were happy to relax at Gwakji Beach. Black lava rocks line Gwakji’s sandy cove and sunsets illuminate the westward sky. It’s a great spot to enjoy local rice wines, play in the sands and dip in the cool water. At high tide public baths fill up with sea water and the beach is perfect for a swim at any time.

 


Driving around Jeju you’ll see massive mountains litter an unusually flat landscape. Korea typically has dozens of high mountains with buildings lining the hills in between but Jeju is much more rural & laid back. Palm trees were imported years ago and now thrive along roadsides and coastlines. Native trees have overgrown and envelop some roads with green tunnels as you drive past dozens of museums between other spectacular sights.

Things to do in Jeju Island

Loveland
5,000won

Things to do in Jeju IslandLoveland is a popular stop for just about anyone visiting Jeju Island.  Most of us living in Korea have seen raunchy photos of raunchy sculptures from this crazy art museum. This is about the tamest photo I snapped at Loveland and it’s certainly worth stopping by for a few laughs or perhaps even to get some ideas. Do not forget to include it in your things to do in Jeju Island.

 

It was actually our first stop but I thought the naked lady might scare off some of my readers.  For a more in-depth look at Loveland read my post here!

 


Jusangjeollidae PromenadeThings to do in Jeju Island
2,000won

The cliffs at Jusangjeollidae are made of beautiful lava columns. These 5 & 6 sided cylinders formed between 150-250 thousand years ago as lava cooled in the ocean. On a calm day the turquoise waters glow beneath the black rocks but when we arrived on our first morning massive waves washed over the lava towers. Now you know why it is in our cool things to do in Jeju Island list, right?

 

The occasional wave crashed into the cliffs creating a faux geyser and eliciting ooo’s and ah’s from onlookers. You don’t need long at Jusangjeollidae but its well worth stopping by. An hour should give you enough time to stroll along the promenade and even grab a local snack.Jusangjeollidae Promenade


Jeju Island is famous for its uniquely flavored chocolates with everything from tangerine & green tea to cactus. Most Koreans bring boxes back as souvenirs to share with friends, family, and teachers. Its sold everywhere and should cost 10,000won for 6 boxes. I recommend buying it on your LAST day so you don’t have to carry it everywhere. I bought some in the ferry terminal just before leaving Jeju.flavored chocolates


Hwanguji Rock Pools
FREEHwanguji Rock Pools

Head to Hwanguji for an adventurous swim in a beautiful ocean-fed rock pool!  Be sure to give yourself enough time to swim and relax in this beautiful landscape. This is one of my favorite things to do in Jeju Island.
We spent 2 hours swimming in 2 pools, climbing rocks and singing our hearts out in the shallows.things to do in Jeju Island

The deeper pool is heavily affected by the tides and acts as a small wave pool so be careful. It’s incredibly refreshing and we had a blast but enter at your own risk because there are no lifeguards anywhere nearby.
small wave pool


Places to visit in Jeju Island

Jeongbang Waterfall
2,000wonJeongbang Waterfall

Jeongbang waterfall is one of only 4 Asian waterfalls that empty into the ocean. The 23m deluge sits on Jeju’s southern shore and is a must-see on your trip!  From the parking lot, you have to walk down a few flights of stairs to the coast where you’ll immediately see the waterfall and feel the mist on your face.

The water is chilly even in the summer so it’s not a big deal that you aren’t allowed to swim here. Pause in front for a photo or wade through the shallows to use the rocks as a tripod like I did. Head to any of Jeju’s beautiful beaches if you want to take a dip afterward. (Hwanguji, Gimnyeong Sonsegi & Udo were our favorite beaches) Every entry in this list of things to do in Jeju Island is special in its own way. Places to visit in Jeju Island


Udo IslandUdo Island
5,500won ferry

 

Udo Island is another must-see stop and can only be accessed by boat from Jeju’s eastern edge. It’s a short 30-minute ferry ride or you can even take a submarine across for a premium. The island is pristine and reminds me of Ulleungdo’s rural farmland with a crystal coastline. A solitary mountain stands watch over this tiny islet littered with peanut farms. We rented bikes and took a 19km loop around Udo stopping at beaches, lighthouses, and viewpoints along the way.
Udo Island

Make sure you bring your bathing suit to Udo! Swimming is the perfect way to chill out after biking up a sweat. If you bring an international driver’s license you can rent a cute little 3 wheeled car or stand up scooter instead. This is one of the moments from things to do in Jeju Island which made my heart full of joy.

things to do in Jeju Island

Jeju Island South KoreaJeju Island South Korea

Don’t miss Geomeolle Beach! It is most important in all things to do in Jeju Island. It’s a stunning scene that epitomizes #Earthporn and photos don’t come close to doing it justice. Geommeolle is a black sand beach that leads into a cave along the lower coast while giant striated cliffs grab your attention. A green rooftop houses a stoic lighthouse to keep sailors safe as waves crash through this gorgeous landscapeJeju Island South Korea



Seongsan Ilchulbang
– Sunrise Peak a UNESCO World Heritage Site

2,000won
1 Hour Round Trip HikeSunrise Peak

On a clear day, you can see a gorgeous sunrise from the bottom or top of Seongsan Ilchulbang. We were blessed with rainclouds for most of the trip which meant I was happy to sleep in and ‘hike’ the summit a little later in the morning. The hike is really just a series of staircases but about halway up, it feels like you’ve entered the Junglebook!things to do in Jeju Island

The trail gives you an awesome panoramic view of Jeju and Udo and when you reach the top you get another amazing view. Ilchulbang’s crater is a long-dormant shield volcano now looks like a bowl covered in grasslands. The unique landscape falls sharply into the ocean behind it.
On the way back down take a right for a cool coastal view and a chance to see Haenyeo, Jeju’s Female Divers, performing 2 shows daily. The divers are a huge part of Jeju culture and a point of pride for the island. Learn more about them at the Haenyo Museum. Don’t worry I am not done with some fun things to do in Jeju Island. There are some more.

Where to go in Jeju Island

Where to go in Jeju Island

Haenyeo Museum
1,100won

Now let’s talk about the cultural part of things to do in Jeju Island.  The Haenyeo Museum gives foreigners and mainland Koreans a glimpse into Jeju culture and helps us understand the significance of these women. Jeju Haenyeo are freediving women who would feed their families by diving as deep as 20 meters to hunt seafood while holding their breath!

It’s a role that most women didn’t choose but were forced to undertake as teenagers when Jeju men were sent off to wars or endured long trips on the dangerous high seas. Historically Jeju has had a larger female population and these strong women took charge of the household and provided for their family with centuries of free diving Jeju’s coastal waters. They are a dying cultural gem on Jeju and if you get the chance to meet a Haenyeo definitely take it! Do not miss this one of the best things to do in Jeju Island.


Manjanggul Lava Tubes

2,000won

The Manjanggul Lava Cave is a staggering 7.4 kilometers long.  Its huge on the inside and has slight hints of the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong in Vietnam.  It’s surprisingly COLD inside the cave so make sure you bring an extra layer!

Walking along the pathway you’ll see various lava rock formations along a well-lit path.  If you really want to take a good photo I recommend bringing a tripod into this underground wonder.  Even though the cave is over 7 kilometers long the section you’re allowed in will only take about 30 minutes to walk each way. At the end is a giant lava stalagmite perfect for a photo! We started from cool things but have reached to breath-taking things to do in Jeju Island.Manjanggul Lava Tubes


Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach
FREE

Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach

Jeju’s most beautiful beach is without a doubt Gimneyong Seonsegi Beach. The white sand blends into shades of aqua in the water and green algae along the lava rocks creating a picturesque scene that reminds me of tropical beaches in the Philippines and Thailand. When we were there storm clouds threatened the island but held off long enough to create a masterpiece above and below.

Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach

Windmills in the distance power the local villages while fishermen and Haenyeo stock the restaurants. Our sunset on this last night was just a tease but still beautiful. On a clear day be sure to snap a photo and share it with me in a comment below!

Tourism in South Korea

Sunset at Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach

Tourism in South Korea

After 5 days of buses, beaches, and boats Bangawoyo Tours helped us all explore Jeju’s marvels while making new friends and great memories. I want to say a huge thank you to Johnny Seo, aka So Man, aka Johnny Fishcakes for organizing this masterpiece. Be sure to check his group out on Facebook and join us for our next adventure! Till then you enjoy your next tour and share with us your favorite things to do in Jeju Island.


My  Jeju Wishlist
Hallasan National Park

We didn’t make it to Hallasan this trip but I hear it an absolutely amazing view from the top of this volcano.  Hallasan is South Korea’s highest peak eclipsing Jirisan by about 35 meters at 1950 meters tall.  Since I didn’t get to see it you should check out fellow blogger, Television of Nomad’s Ultimate guide to Hallasan!

Jeju Olle Trail

Fellow blogger, Inspired By Maps, showed me the Jeju Olle Trail in her 5 great ideas about Jeju Island post.  now I wish I’d gone there too.  Maybe I should just head back in the winter and see it all snow covered!


Thankfully my Jeju experience was awesome but beware of the weather!  This Toronto Seoulcialite got caught off-guard by the typhoon and ended up having to fake her way through it on Instagram.

Disclaimer: All information is accurate as of September 2016.

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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42 comments

Punita Malhotra September 25, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Wonderful set of pictures in your post. Such beauty of nature all around. I would love to add this to our wish-list of Asian destinations now.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:58 am

I’m glad you like my photos! There are tons of reasons to add Korea to an Asian wish-list. Too bad there are so many amazing places out there.

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Nomadic Hippie 2.0 September 25, 2016 - 4:31 pm

Great article! I haven’t been to South Korea yet but when I do I’ll make sure to check out this place (very curious about the love statues, too!) 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:46 am

Hehe the love statues will be my first NSFW post. Hope my family isn’t too weirded out.

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Lisa September 25, 2016 - 11:05 pm

What a stunning island, I had never heard of Jeju before. I would never have considered visiting South Korea but I will definitely rethink. I just love waterfalls!! Your pictures capture the beauty and fun of it all so well. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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Paul September 25, 2016 - 11:22 pm

This place has definitely been put on to our list when we set off on our travels soon. Love the tall waterfall, it’s so beautiful and a great place to relax, thanks for sharing!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:45 am

If you stop in Korea there are tons of amazing places that are largely unheard of outside of the country

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Llamateurs September 26, 2016 - 2:31 am

Looks absolutely fantastic! Especially rock pools! Thanks for inspiration – one day we’ll be there! Hope you’ll do the Jeju Olle Track in winter, fingers crossed!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:45 am

Fingers crossed!!!

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Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow September 26, 2016 - 6:09 am

Great post – very informative, I had never heard of Jeju before but can see why people would want to go! So much to see there. We are only passing by Seoul on our trip to Japan next year – after reading this I wish we were staying longer to explore more of South Korea!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:44 am

Seoul has many amazing places too. How long do you have on your stop? There are great markets, palaces, temples & hikes all on the subway!

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Nancy September 27, 2016 - 2:24 am

What a beautiful place to visit. The lava tubes would be fun to check out then spend time at the pools afterwards would make a perfect day.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 27, 2016 - 9:43 am

It was a perfect day indeed!

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Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren September 27, 2016 - 7:23 am

I didn’t even know this island existed but wow – it looks like a beautiful part of the world! Great post, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂

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Angela September 27, 2016 - 6:15 pm

I had no idea this island existed, but I am putting it on my travel wishlist! Love finding unique places visit. Thanks for sharing!

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Diana - MVMT Blog September 28, 2016 - 8:49 am

Saving this guide for when I get a chance to go! The rock pool looks so fun – would love to hang out there for a while.

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Ryan Biddulph September 29, 2016 - 6:28 am

Hi Mike,

Wow! Incredibly cool. Hawaii-style indeed. Has to South Pacific flavor to it too and yes I’ve seen images of the Love Park online. All pretty much NSFW 😉 But I’d have to see it – and the island – because it’s just one place you gotta see, as I’ve realized about many SE Asian spots. Wacky culture and in the same breath, refined too in many regards. Neat mix of action which appeals to me. Asian style.

Thanks for sharing Mike 🙂

Ryan

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mike.j.still@gmail.com September 30, 2016 - 12:44 pm

Glad you like it Ryan! I was skeptical about the Hawaii-style name Koreans give it but happily proven wrong. That being said Hawaii is still a thousand times better haha

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Kavey November 5, 2016 - 7:24 pm

What a stunning place! Korea is already on my wishlist, now even more so having seen your gorgeous photos and introductions. Loving the coastal scenery and seems like there’s a lot to do here too. I’d have to visit both Loveland and the cultural museum!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 12:13 pm

There are so many amazing things to do and see in Korea! I hope you make it here one day. Let me know if you have any questions about what to do or how to get around.

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Vicki Louise November 5, 2016 - 10:39 pm

I haven’t been to South Korea yet but Jeju Island seems to be the place to go! So much nature and beauty – like Hawaii – and the rock pool look like a lot of fun. I’ve got loads to add into my South Korea Itinerary now!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 12:18 pm

Jeju is probably the most popular Korean vacation spot. Its well worth a few days if you’re in the region!

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Holly November 6, 2016 - 2:11 am

I hope to visit Korea soon. I got sick and couldn’t go. That is a very interesting sculpture. I have never seen anything like it. I would love to try their chocolate they are known for. I will have to keep that in mind.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 2:04 pm

Jeju is so much fun! I hope you make it to Korea and get to visit soon!

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Natasha November 6, 2016 - 6:37 pm

Some beautiful spots on Jeju Island, I think my favorite is Hwanguji Rock Pools- I could easily spend half a day here- looks so scenic and relaxing!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 2:07 pm

The rock pools were so much fun. Definitely stop by if you’re on Jeju!

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Christina November 6, 2016 - 10:43 pm

Ahh this brings back memories of my first travel writing assignment overseas 12 years ago. Jeju Island is probably the most stunning place in South Korea. Are the women divers still diving for a living?

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 2:07 pm

They are still diving but its more of a spectacle than a living now. There were some shows you can go watch them in and I’m sure some live off it but they are worried about the culture dying out as this generation leaves us

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Marlene Marques November 7, 2016 - 12:21 am

Incredible place! You caught my attention with the nickname “Korea’s Hawaii.” 😉 Loved the photos and all the tips about the place. Would love to try out those pools and waterfalls.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 2:06 pm

Its so much fun on Jeju. I hope you get a chance to visit!

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Loredana November 7, 2016 - 5:44 am

Jeju Island looks amazing and I hope to visit it one day! I would definitely see the Jeongbang Waterfall as I never miss a waterfall in my travels – and the museums for sure!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 12:09 pm

I’m a sucker for waterfalls too! Especially when I have my camera

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Carmen's Luxury Travel November 7, 2016 - 7:26 am

All of these look like fascinating places! I would especially love to visit the cliffs at Jusangjeollidae. Lovely post and photos, thanks for sharing! Happy travels 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 12:09 pm

Jusangjeollidae is so cool. Well worth stopping by. Thanks for your kind words Carmen

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Jennifer November 7, 2016 - 7:28 am

We particularly enjoyed Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak and Cheonjiyeon waterfall. Also had to give that crazy seafood soup that you cook live a try while we were there!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 8, 2016 - 12:08 pm

I loved those spots and yes yes yes! The seafood was sooo delicoius!

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NSFW – Loveland an adult playground on Jeju Island | Live, Travel, Teach November 8, 2016 - 4:01 pm

[…] last) but I simply had to share my photos from Loveland with you.  Over Chuseok break I joined an awesome trip to Jeju Island and our first stop was Loveland.  This sculpture park is full of what can only be described as […]

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Aileen Adalid November 9, 2016 - 1:26 am

I’ve heard a LOT of great things about Jeju Island and I’ve been eyeing it for quite a while now. 😀 Thanks to your post, I have something to think of for next time too. Bookmarking this!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 14, 2016 - 3:34 pm

Aileen,
I hope you make it to Jeju one day!

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[…] Hallasan!  It is the most amazing winter hiking destination and although it’s peak on Jeju island it normally has heavy snow from Nov until April or even May.  Hikers can choose a Seongpanak […]

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[…] Fall meant digging back into the books but I still squeezed in 2 final visits to one of my favorite places in Korea, Seoraksan National Park.  I partnered with Bangawoyo Tours for a few getaways too. […]

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7 Things You Have to Experience in South Korea January 6, 2017 - 8:06 pm

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