Jeju Island: South Korea's Hawaii

Jeju Island: South Korea's Hawaii
Jeju Island. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Jeju Island is the main island in the South Korean province of Jeju and the largest island on the shores of the Korean Peninsula. Jeju, also the most populous island in South Korea, is considered one of the wonders of the modern world. The main attractions of the place are the countless beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and lava flows.

World heritage site
The island is located in the Gulf of Korea in the southern part of the province of South Jeolla. Jeju Volcano Island and Lava Tubes are found on the island, which is also a natural World Heritage Site. A major part of Jeju's economy, which is a popular holiday destination, is dependent on tourism.

This is why it is also known as the 'Hawaii of South Korea'. Asian tourists love the warm climate and beautiful beaches. Tourists from China do not require a visa in Jeju for taking trips for three months. The island has a population of 660,000, but the number of visitors is about 15,000,000 per year!

Jeju is one of the most popular surfing destinations in Korea and is considered as the birthplace of Korean surfing. Violjung Beach and Jungmun Beach are some of the most popular beaches here. Found in 1995, Korea's first surfing club is located at Jungmun Beach. The island is believed to have formed two million years ago as a result of the action of a groundwater volcano.

It is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are also many museums and theme parks. There are also mountains, lava tube caves, and waterfalls. Near Jeju Island, there are small islands that visitors can visit by boat; the most famous of these are Udo, Gapado, and Marado. Udo is known for its yummy peanut ice cream and boat tours.

Another popular attraction is the 8 km long Manjangul Lava Tube. 1 km of it is open for tourists. Ziong Il Chulbong or "Sunrise Peak", the main peak of the island, Hallasan Mountain, Xiongup Folk Village, Jeju Teddy Beer Museum, Jeju Loveland Ozulok Tea Museum and Jeju Mays Park are the other tourist attractions.

Jeju Island. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Like any other tourist destination, it is prone to pollution caused by excessive tourism activities. In addition, there are complications such as overcrowding and overuse of groundwater. Given this is a serious problem, the government is preparing to make the island carbon-free by 2030. Part of this is promoting sustainable systems such as electric cars.

Best time to visit
The ideal time to visit the island is between November and February.

How to reach there
The island can be reached via Jeju International Airport in Jeju City. The Seoul-Jeju City Air Route is the busiest route in the world, with approximately 13,400,000 passengers travelling between the two cities in 2017. Flights are available from Daegu, Busan, Gunsan and Guangzhou.

Jeju can also be reached by ferry from Busan. This can take anywhere between 3 to 12 hours. The island has a public bus service but no railways. A rail tunnel was proposed to the island to connect to the Korean Rail Express network, but this did not happen due to opposition from locals.

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