There are no words, really, to describe the charm of South Korea’s Jeju Island. It is simply breathtaking. The lava formations, peaks, waterfalls and caves are definitely unique and among the most spectacular in the world. The best way for you to see the island is on foot, and Olle trail walking in Jeju-do is a stunning option. If you must visit just one island in the world before leaving the planet, it’s got to be South Korea’s Jeju-do; and if you must take a hike while here, take the Olle trail.
The Olle hiking paths will take you to the island’s many amazing spots along the coast in a clockwise direction. The Olle adventure is made up of 18 trails plus a few “bonus” paths. The first trail is near Seongsan Ilchulbong (a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you must check out after Olle trail walking or on other days while in the island). It starts in Malmi Oreum and ends in Jocheon Village near the capital city of Jeju. This trail takes 4-6 hours by experienced hikers. If it is your first time take on a great distance on foot, you can just casually hike for much of the day as you take in the beauty of the surrounding sceneries.
Other trails are longer, and some require good walking shoes (and feet) as they take you to Jeju-do’s extremely rocky coastline. Walking slowly is a good idea since the sites are truly amazing and lovely. There’s no danger of getting lost since the paths are efficiently marked with blue arrows pointing to where you should go forward and orange arrows that point to the reverse direction (or counterclockwise). Guests and hikers are provided with extensive tourism information, maps and directions to ensure safety while enjoying the Olle trails. There are also restrooms and restaurants along the way. The paths are interconnected.
Just to demonstrate the beauty of Jeju-do beyond words, it is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Halla-san Mountain (South Korea’s highest peak), Manjanggul Lava-tubes (home of the world’s largest lava column) and Seongsan Ilchulbong. But these amazing sites that merit maximum protection and preservation are not the only island attractions. Also in the island are mesmerizing Jusangjeolli Cliffs, a wall of hexagonal rock formations that seem to have been carved by colossal hands, the extinct Sangumburi Crater and the captivating Jeongbang Waterfall, plus other equally majestic waterfalls. There are also unique man-made facilities such as the iconic Seonimgyo Bridge, interesting Teddy Bear Museum, one-of-a-kind sex-themed Jeju Loveland, imposing and overly ornate Yakcheonsa Temple, and Yeomiji Botanical Garden, the largest botanic garden in the world.
The Olle paths are definitely among the major attractions in the island, and Olle trail walking in Jeju-do is a leading tourist activity. Thousands of visitors walk these paths every month, including local Korean celebrities. The paths offer a perfect escape from the daily hustle and bustle in the big cities. This is a very scenic way to see the island but it is not for the faint of heart.