[TRAVEL] Gaudo Island: Hidden Beauty of Gangjinman Bay

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Looking for a travel destination off the beaten track in Korea and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city? Look no further than a day trip to the pretty little island of Gaudo, situated at the edge of Gangjin. But… where is Gangjin and where is Gaudo Island?

Firstly, Gangjin is a county located at one of the Southernmost points of Korea, in the South Jeolla Province. Gangjin is famous for its Kiln sites, which produce the traditional Goryeo celadon, and it also hosts the Gangjin Celadon Festival, where visitors not only get to view the ceramic ware but also have a chance at creating one of their own.

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In this post, though, we’ll be exploring the only inhabited island out of eight in the Gangjinman Bay—the lovely Gaudo Island. Gaudo got its name from the Boeunsan Mountain in Gangjin-eup in Gangjin county, which resembles a cow’s head. As the island has a similar shape to a cow’s meonge, which is a curved wooden bar placed around the neck of the cow, it became known as Gaudo Island.

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The only way to the island is on foot across the suspension bridge, called Chulleong Dari, which translates to shaky bridge, that takes you from the mainland to the island. It is actually a good way to take in the endless views, something that would have been harder than say, if there was a road for vehicles and you’re just lounging in a bus and waiting to reach your destination. While the bridge is about wide enough for five people walking side by side, it does have a couple of extended areas where you can stop and enjoy the breeze without obstructing anyone else.

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Heading to Gaudo Island from the mainland, it doesn’t matter which side you choose to pose for a picture because the scenery—Gangjinman Bay and all of the surrounding uninhabited islands—is effortlessly gorgeous all around you. What’s interesting about the coastal view, is that they consist of natural tourism resources like Japanese black pines, silver Magnolia, and even a Cypress colony.

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Islands always tend to be known for their seafood, and Gaudo Island also offers a seafood feast if you’re hungry from the walk. The restaurant is located just right at the end of the bridge onto the island, and one of the specialties that awaits you there is the live octopus, amongst other delicacies. While live octopus may sound like a daunting challenge—yes, the tentacles really do stick to your mouth and even your teeth—everyone who had tried it during our trip there enjoyed the experience once they’ve gotten over the tingles. For the unadventurous, you may want to stick with the good old seafood pancake.

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When you’re done with food and sufficiently recharged, it’s time to explore! Looking for something leisurely? Try the Gaudo Island Fishing Park! You can see it located on the right side of the bridge heading toward the island, and it’s a pretty cool area, with a variety of fish, where you can just indulge in the endless scenic views of the Bay while waiting for a fish to bite.

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Want to work off some calories? Then you definitely have to go on the trekking course, also called the Hamggehae-gil. The walk will take you around the picturesque island, and it is approximated to be 2.5km, which will take slightly over an hour to complete.

The most exciting thing you can and should definitely try if you decide to make the trip to Gaudo Island? Well, that will have to be the Gaudo Island Zip Track! To be honest, this is what most of us have been looking forward to once we found out the Zip Track is part of our itinerary. Perhaps many of us may have already tried out different zip tracks in different parts of the world—that is even more reason to add the one on Gaudo Island to your list of conquests!

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It’s a really steep hike up to the top of the island, where the Cheongja Tower—all 25 metres of it—stands, overlooking the island and the Bay. It seems like a rather straightforward route, but it’s still a challenge. The only thought running through my head as I made the ascent was to just keep looking forward and keep moving. Remember to make sure you’re wearing good shoes with lots of grip, because you’ll definitely need it for this climb. Also, travel light! You don’t want to be bogged down by the weight of your bag when you’re doing this. That said, while the journey up is arduous, I assure you that the view from the top—and the zip track, of course—is worth every bit of the effort.

Granted the view isn’t from an angle as high as, say, the top of Namsan Tower, but what Gaudo Island offers is as much, if not more, for away from the high-rise buildings in the city, is the expanse of the ocean and the horizon. It was approaching dusk on our way up to the Cheongja Tower during our trip, and that only added to the splendour of the landscape.

The Gaudo Island Zip Track is an eco-friendly leisure facility, and although the duration from the top of the tower back to the mainland is less than two minutes, feeling the wind in your hair while you sail across the water will leave you feeling more refreshed than you were when you first stepped onto the bridge to make your way to the lovely Gaudo Island.

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To get to Gaudo Island, the following may help you to plan your journey:

  1. Take the KTX (high-speed rail) from Seoul Station to either Mokpo Station or Naju Station.
  2. From Mokpo Station, take a taxi to the Mokpo Bus Terminal and board an intercity bus bound for Gangjin from there.
  3. From Naju Station, take a taxi to Naju Intercity Bus Terminal and board an express bus bound for Gangjin from there.
  4. From Gangjin Bus Terminal, take a Nongeochon Bus bound for Maryang and alight at Jeodu Village Bus Stop.
  5. Cross the suspension bridge towards Gaudo Island.
  6. Have fun exploring!

Once again, we would like to extend a huge thanks to Korea Travel Organization (KTO) Singapore as this trip was only made possible by them.

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