South Korea’s premiere island destination is Jeju-do or Jeju Island. It is referred to as the “island of the gods”, and is extremely popular among honeymooners. It is home to many of the planet’s most spectacular rock and lava formations that ceaseless attract the attention of scientists from all over the world. Millions of local and foreign tourists, researchers, backpackers, photographers, spelunkers, nature lovers, and honeymooners have visited and enjoyed the beauty of this volcanic island. The attractions do not lie squarely within the confines of the island. On its eastern end are the equally gorgeous Udo Island and the Udo Maritime Park.
The island is named “Udo” because it resembles a lying cow. Udo Maritime Park covers the island’s only two ports (Udo Port and Haumokdong Port) and the surrounding sea in order to protect the exquisite nature and rich marine life in the area, as well as to promote maritime tourism. The park was set forth by the Bukjeju County in January 2001. Taken together, the island and the maritime park is proud of its fertile soil, abundant marine life, and a variety of natural attractions that people refer to the island as a replica of the much larger Jeju Island in terms of natural beauty.
Udo offers so many amenities and tourism activities such as fishing, biking, hiking, submarine tours, cruises and the popular sand massage. (The submarine tour is to die for.) The island is also the home of picturesque stone walls, eerie stone tombs and the famous Haenyeo female divers. Jeju’s women divers dive into the ocean to gather seaweeds, clams and abalones for food and as source of income. Their only “diving gear” consists of a lead-weighted vest, regular goggles, a weeding hoe and net to hold their catch. These amazing women can hold their breaths for a very long time, which is why they are called Jeju’s mermaids.
Two of the leading attractions in Udo Maritime Park and Udo Island are Seobin Baeksa and Udobong Peak. Designated as Korea’s Natural Monument No. 438, Seobin Baeksa is an enchanting coral beach that has regularly appeared in movies and TV commercials. Its pristine white sands and emerald blue sea are just over the charts. The surrounding wasters are patched with different hues of blue or green depending on water depth.
This overly enchanting beach is definitely one of the top attractions in Jeju, along with Halla-san Mountain (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Jusangjeolli Cliffs, among others. The other leading Udo attraction is the 132.5-meter high Udobong Peak. This is the highest peak in Udo, and around it are a lighthouse and a spacious park. The peak offers a spectacular site of the entire island and surrounding ocean. Udo Island is also known for its fertile agricultural land. It is an inhabited island with about 2,000 residents and 700 homes.
To get to Udo Maritime Park, travelers may take an inter-city bus from either the Jeju Inter-city Bus Terminal or Seogwipo Terminal bound for Seongsan Port. The bus leaves every 20 minutes for the 30-40-minute trip to the port. From there, ferries make a short 15-minute journey to Udo Island. Ferries leave every hour.