Hot Summer, a hot hot summer! Summer is finally here and it’s time for some Fun, Sand and Sea!! This is the time for you to get out into the sunny sun and get a healthy tan. Be sure to check out one of the few beaches that Korea has to offer when you are heading to Korea this summer. Korea is surrounded by water and therefore, there are a number of great beaches located in different areas for you to visit. The beaches in Korea are divided into, beaches in the East Sea, South Sea and West Sea area.
The months of July and August are the ideal times to hit the beach as temperatures can get as high to 30 degrees Celsius. Since most beaches open officially in late June/early July and close towards the end of August, visitors only have a few months to take part in Korea’s beach culture. However, if you are unable to visit during the summer season, there are a number of beachside festivals, water sports and events all year round.
The East Sea area is known for its clear waters and expansive, white sandy beaches, making it a popular spot for vacationers. People come from far to catch the stunning view of the sun rising over the East Sea, with most beaches in the area even holding an annual Haedoji (Sunrise) Festival. Even though these festivals only take place on New Year’s Day, the sight of the sun slowly peeking over the ocean’s horizon is a stunning sight any day of the year.
Beaches in the East Sea Area
- Sokcho Beach in Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
Sokcho Beach (속초해수욕장) is well known for the picturesque pine trees that line its white sandy coast. An added perk of this particular spot is that there are many tourist attractions in the surrounding area, including Mt. Seoraksan (설악산), one of Korea’s most famous mountains.
Sokcho Beach is a good weekend getaway, as there a variety of visitor facilities (parking lots, campsites, etc.) as well as lodging. Grab a pole and go fishing at nearby Jodo Island or walk towards the pier to get some fresh sushi at one of the local fish markets. One of the biggest draws of Sokcho Beach is that it is located only 500 meters from the Express Bus Terminal, making it easy to find even for first-time visitors. Click here for more info on Sokcho Beach.
- Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Gyeongpo Beach (경포 해수욕장) is the largest beach on the east coast and is only about a kilometer away from Gyeongpodae Pavilion (경포대), which is famous for its view of the moon and the rising sun. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Gyeongpo Beach, however, is the fine powdery white sand, which is perfect for beachgoers who like to walk around barefoot.
Beach activities include banana boating, jet skiing, and waterskiing. For a more relaxed pace, take the Gyeongpo tourism carriage around Gyeongpodae for some sightseeing. There are also a number of cultural events and folk performances held throughout the year, in addition to the annual Summer Beach Art Festival, held towards the end of July. Click here for more info on Gyeongpo beach.
- Naksan Beach in Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do
Naksan Beach (낙산해수욕장) is also located on the east coast. This pristine beach not only has soft, snowy white sand, but also a thick grove of pine trees right near the coast. Along with a number of lodging facilities and convenience stores, travelers highly recommend Naskan Beach for its close proximity to other attractions in the area.
Those visiting the beach can travel easily to Seoraksan Mountain, Uisangdae Pavilion, or the Naksansa Temple, home to a huge white statue of Gwaneum. There is a wide array of seaside events at the beach during the summer, but the biggest event by far is the sunrise celebration on January 1st, which brings with it throngs of tourists who have come to make their New Year’s wishes. Click here for more info on Naksan Beach.
- Guryongpo Beach in Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Guryongpo Beach (구룡포해수욕장) is characterized by its crescent-shaped coastline and charming pine groves. Although the beach is not especially large, the view of the coast is incredibly picturesque and there are many facilities for visitors. It can get very crowded during peak season since it is known as a great place for swimming and fishing. Click here for more info on Guryongpo Beach.
The West Sea Area (Yellow Sea)
Beaches on the West Sea ((Seohae or Yellow Sea)) are easily accessible from Seoul and are therefore extremely popular among citizens and travellers who may not have a lot of time on their hands. In addition, beaches along the West Sea are great places to catch the sunset and most have tidal flats rich in marine life.
Beaches in the West Sea Area (Yellow Sea)
- Eurwangni Beach in Incheon-si
- Daecheon Beach in Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Daecheon Beach (대천해수욕장) is the biggest beach on the west coast and is known for its shallow and calm waters, making it the perfect place for visitors of all ages. The sand at Daecheon Beach is especially soft and easy to wash off because it is composed of tiny bits of eroded shells. The upper portion of the beach has fine, soft sand while the lower portion of the beach is composed of firmly-packed sand.
The Boryeong Mud Skincare Center is located on the far west side of Daecheon Beach and office services using the world-famous Boryeong Mud. It is a venue for various events such as the Daecheon Beach Festival and a yacht race as well as the Boryeong Mud Festival, a global event held every July. Click here for more info on Daecheon Beach.
- Muchangpo Beach in Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Muchangpo Beach (무창포해수욕장) is one of the places where visitors can see the famed natural sea parting known as the “Miracle of Moses.” Twice a month (around the middle and the end of the month, according to the lunar calendar) the sea parts near Seokdaedo Island (석대도), exposing a dry pathway leading through the middle of the sea. Those walking along the sea trail can find turban snails and octopus.
The tidal flats and shallow waters along Muchangpo Beach are rich in marine life and the coastline is often dotted with local fishermen sitting atop rocks waiting for their next catch. Of particular beauty is the glow of sun as it sets over Muchangpo, especially when seen from the pier. Muchangpo Beach’s sunset is so radiant that it is known as one of the eight spectacular sights of Boryeong-si. Click here for more info on Muchangpo Beach.
- Byeongsan Beach in Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do
Byeonsan Beach (변산해수욕장) is one of the three main beaches on the west coast along with Daecheon and Mallipo Beach, and is part of Byeonsanbando National Park. Byeonsan Beach has a long stretch of fine sand, and the water is only an average of one meter deep. Since the water is shallow, the waves are calm and the water is relatively warm, so it’s a perfect place to take a dip. Perhaps the most notable feature of Byeonsan Beach is the amazing natural beauty of the park. Since the beach was first opened in 1930 (quite a few years ago) beachgoers should not expect a wide variety of facilities or accommodations. Those hoping to spend the night in the area can find accommodations at one of the beaches or mountains nearby. Click here for more info on Byeonsan Beach.
The South Sea Area
There are a countless number of islands (and therefore, beaches) in the South Sea (Namhae). Each beach has its own local flavor, meaning that there are almost limitless options for visitors willing to travel a little further from Korea’s capital. The South Sea is also home to Jeju Island, a favorite tourist site in Korea. Islands in the South Sea provide visitors with a vastly different experience than islands near the east or west coast.
Beaches in the South Sea Area
- Jungmun Beach in Seongwipo-si, Jeju
Jungmun Beach (중문해수욕장), which is located right next to the Jungmun Resort Complex, is a long sandy beach with plenty of space, a great location, and lots to see. The beach not only has a long, curved white sandy section, but also a section of black, white, red and grey sand (called “jinmosal”). Groups of volcanic black rocks, characteristic of Jeju Island, dot the coastline and form small tide pools where visitors can find shellfish and other small critters. Thanks to its breathtaking scenery, Jungmun Beach is a popular film location for movies, television dramas, and commercials. It is also known as a romantic destination, frequented by couples and honeymooners. To the right of the beach, one can see a natural cave and a cliff, which is covered with a variety of rare plants, giving visitors a close look at the local ecosystem. Though the waters near the shore are relatively calm, the current picks up a little further out, making it a good place to enjoy water sports such as jet skiing and windsurfing. During the summer season, a Beach Film Festival and a Summer Festival is held. Click here for more info on Jungmun Beach.
- Hyeopjae Beach in Hallim-eup, Jeju
- Haeundae Beach in Haeundae-gu, Busan
Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장) is one of the eight most popular spots in Korea and is the country’s premier beach. The waters are shallow and there’s little change in tide. Sand at the beach is rough, which makes brushing yourself off at the end of the day a breeze. Haeundae Beach is extremely popular and in the summer it’s so packed with vacationers that’s it’s hard to find a place to stretch out if you don’t get there early.
The beach is famous for its sunrise and moonrise as seen from Haewoljeong Pavilion. Haeundae’s Dalmaji-gil Road, which is located between Haeundae Beach and Songjeong Beach, is another great spot to catch the romantic view of the moon reflecting off the water’s surface.
Haeundae Beach is famous for its various cultural events and festivals that are held throughout the year. The Haedoji (해돋이, Sunrise) Festival and Polar Bear Swimming Contest are held in the winter; the Haeundae Sand Festival and Haeundae Beach Festival are held in the summer; and the Pusan International Film Festival is held in the autumn. The beach is always alive with the excitement and fun of festivals all year round.
Aside from the excellent beach facilities, the Haeundae area is also well known for its plethora of natural hot springs. It is even said that Queen Jinseong of Silla completely recovered from a disease after bathing in one of the area’s hot springs. Click here for more info on Haeundae Beach.
- Sangju Beach in Namhae-gum, Gyeongsangnam-do
Source of information and photos: Korea Tourism Organization Singapore.