It’s also home to Mount Hallasan, South Korea’s highest peak
Known both as the “island of the gods” and the “island of love”, Jeju lies apart from the Korean peninsula both geographically and culturally. Legend has it that the giant grandmother Seolmundae shoveled mounds of earth to shape the volcano-studded topography of this rugby-ball shaped island, two and a half times the size of Singapore. The fable is just one of several creation myths that does the rounds, but visitors are in agreement about the balmy climate, awe-inspiring landscapes and unspoiled beaches. The island holds particular allure for mainland Koreans who come to hike the island’s olle — literally “the path from street to doorstep”—but referring to the network of footpaths that traverse the island. They climb Mount Hallasan (also South Korea’s tallest peak at 1,950m), visit cultural sites and gorge on seafood and BBQ pork from Jeju’s famed black pigs, said to be the tastiest in the country.
All around Jeju, you’ll find stunning stretches of sand. Iho Beach near the airport is bustling and vibrant, stretching for 250m, around the length of two soccer fields. Just a little longer is Shinyang Beach, on the south-east corner of the island is a popular spot for windsurfing.
Perhaps the most popular is Jungmun Beach, where big name hotels overlook a pristine 500m-long beach.
When to go
Jeju is busiest during the summer months (May to September), but at its best during the autumn shoulder season (October to November) when temperatures remain dry and mild, and crowds are thinner.
How to get there
Cebu Pacific flies to Seoul from Manila, Cebu and Kalibo, and to Busan from Manila. Both cities have connecting flights to Jeju.
This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Smile magazine.