Thursday, December 4, 2014


From the beach (Hwasun) to Mt Sanbangsan to the Chocolate Museum and yet another beach (Geumney and Hyeopjae) before we make our final stop for the day at Jeju City. This was the second to the last beach we visited in Jeju Island and it was the best. White sand beach, longer shore line, cobalt colored seawater and overlooking Biyangdo Island. A perfect afternoon awaited us.

As with visits to other beaches, the boys warmed up by playing games by the sand further away from the shoreline. There weren't many people in this area (again, probably because it wasn't beach season yet). There were only a few smaller kids collecting shells and trying to catch small fishes in the shallow part of the beach.
It was low tide so we had to walk a bit before we reached the water. It looked inviting. We planned to take a dip, even just for a few minutes (we knew beforehand that the water temperature was lower than the one we were used to in tropical countries). We were already dressed in our swimsuits underneath our clothes. My research said water temperature would be around 27 or lower and the water was cold but tolerable (since we didn't plan on swimming and immersing our whole body in the water). Ira was the first one to take his shirt off and go into beach play mode - that meant looking for a bottle or cup or using his bare hands to get seawater and pour unto himself (and others).


While Kelvin and Ira were busy hunting for hermits and splashing each other, my husband looked for a good place to set up his tripod and started clicking away. When he was done with his landscape shots, we were called in to have our family group shots before we finally got into serious beach business - getting into the water (knee to waist deep).

We realized the tide was getting higher and higher by the minute as the sand bars (islets) closer to shore disappeared. The tripod was already a few centimeters immersed in water. We knew we only had a few minutes to enjoy the sea before it got too deep (and dangerous) for us so we splashed each other, ran after each other in the water and took in as much as we could of the surrounding views before heading back to the car.

As we were walking back to the parking lot I noticed some policemen staring at us from afar. I was alarmed because I knew the beach was still closed and I wasn't sure if getting into the water was really allowed during that time. They didn't approach us though so I guess we didn't really break any rules (unless they guessed we were probably tourists and they let us off). 

Along the parking lot were some statues of haenyos and harubangs and what seemed to be a warning sign. Of course, we didn't know what it meant until we got back to the hotel and checked using translation app. Apparently it meant "no swimming" and "off limits". Thank goodness the police didn't detain us (not sure if it's one's a criminal offense not to follow the sign). A fellow parent volunteer who lived in Jeju Island commented on my Facebook post of the sign that the current in the beaches in the island was unpredictable and that weather can change 12 times a day, therefore, swimming is not advisable until the official beach opening (around July) in summer when the current is more stable. Good thing we weren't really swimming.

I'm sure summer is a much better season to go beach-hopping in Korea with a higher water temperature where people can be more comfortable dipping in the crystal clear water. Unfortunately, we could only travel during the June or Nov/Dec school holidays when beaches are not yet officially open or it's already the winter season. There will definitely be more facilities for tourists and more time to enjoy the beach during summer. But, of course, you have to contend with tens or hundreds of beach lovers soaking up the summer weather. 

Travel tip of the day:
  • If you are not pressed for time, I've read that Geumney and Hyeopjae beaches are the perfect spots for a breath-taking sunset. You and your family or travel companions may want to stick around and wait for the beautiful view.
  • Hallim Park is also nearby and a visit to the park can be combined with an afternoon at the beach. One full day of activities and adventure in Jeju Island.

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