Jeju Island Gem
Before planning this trip, I have to admit that I had never heard of Jeju Island. Many Koreans refer to this as “honeymoon island”. And that makes absolute sense - a small island surrounded by cliffs, beautiful beaches, and the bluest water I have ever seen. it’s really surprising because you wouldn’t think of South Korea having an island like this. If you love Big Sur in Northern California, then you’ll love Jeju Island.
In my opinion, the island’s best feature is their Olle Trail that follows along the entire circumference of the island. There are a total of 21 trails - it would take you at least 26 days to hike all of them. Each individual trail ranges from 3km to 17km. Along the coastline, you get the most exquisite views of the cliffs, waterfalls, and even some remote farmland.
We were only in Jeju Island for one full day. I had selected famous Olle Trail #7. Our intention was to only walk for a portion of this 15km trail. It was actually quite humid and warm for a mid-November day. Here, we saw the famous rock, Oedolgae Rock, and beautiful cliffside views. Jeju Island is really booming and developing, though. There are many Mainland tourists that come to the island. I would try to visit Jeju Island soon before it becomes overpopulated and dirty!
While Seoul had some amazing Korean BBQ, I have to say the best was in Jeju city. Avery has a friend from Mill Valley who is teaching English in Jeju. Thanks to Facebook, they were able to connect and we met up for dinner. I don’t think they have seen each other in 7 years or so. But Avery’s always been great with rekindling friendships - somehow, I am just so awkward that even thinking about rekindling with an old aquaintance makes me cringe a bit.
We chatted and we really enjoyed ourselves. I can only imagine how lonely he must feel in Jeju. He does have a girlfriend but he’s an introvert and you can really tell that he found comfort in connecting with Avery again. After traveling abroad for years, he said he will return to the Bay next year. He actually seemed like he was ready to go back already. Even though they came from the same hometown, they are both so different and took completely different paths. He finished college in SF and went to Utah for a year to teach skiing. Then, he moved abroad to teach English in Vietnam, Seoul, and now Jeju. I couldn’t tell if he was envious of our stint in NYC or if he thought we were crazy for having office jobs. Regardless, I need to visit Utah…in a van with a big dog. Not kidding. Goals.
We also took a day to visit Hamden Beach - which is absolutely stunning. I mean, I’ve seen the Caribbean. I’ve seen Kawaii. I’ve seen Montenegro. But THIS. It looked like the perfect light blue Pantone color chip. I can only imagine how busy this place is during the summer. And expensive. But it’s probably so incredible to swim in that water. While I don’t have any concept of visiting any other time of the year, November was not busy and the weather was actually fairly comfortable. There were mainly Koreans visiting and not many Mainland tourists. So, something worth noting.
I’m sure by the end of this crazy adventure, we’re going to look back and think Jeju Island is not even half as beautiful as some of the other beaches we will see in South East Asia. But Jeju had its own charm, its own energy that is unlike any other place I’ve ever been. It’s not your typical destination. So if you’ve done the South East Asia thing and you’re looking for something different, come to Jeju.