• JEJU OLLE TRAIL PART I

    Routes 18 to 1

    A haenyeo's fins and orange buoy are visible above the water as she duck dives at dawn on Udo Island, South Korea
  • JEJU OLLE TRAIL PART I

    Routes 18 to 1

    A haenyeo's fins and orange buoy are visible above the water as she duck dives at dawn on Udo Island, South Korea

JEJU OLLE TRAIL PART I

Routes 18 to 1

We arrived back on Jeju with much anticipation, looking forward to completing a full circuit of the island, on foot, by tackling every single Olle Trail. Our seven days on the Olle in 2017 had lingered long in our minds, and we were excited for the journey ahead.

What is the Olle Trail?

The Jeju Olle Trail, if you don’t already know, is a 425 km network of trails that circumnavigates the whole of Jeju Island. There are 21 routes (two with differing inland and coastal options) plus five side routes, giving 28 in total. While some people walk a route here or there, an increasing number choose to tackle the Olle Trail as a thru-hike, and over the course of a month, that’s exactly what we planned to do.

Where to start?

As we were flying in and out of Jeju City, it seemed like the natural starting point for us. You can of course begin at Route 1 on the northeast corner of the island, following the trails sequentially. Another option is to start and finish in Seogwipo on the south coast. The Jeju Olle Centre in Seogwipo is now the only place to get a certificate for completing all the trails, so it’s worth considering if you’d like such a memento. It also feels like the true Jeju Olle Trail hub, with the pub, guesthouse, office and three routes starting or finishing there. Planning on going full circle like us? The excellent bus system will get you easily to your starting point of choice.

What to expect in this guide?

In this, the first of our four part Olle Trail guide, you’ll find an account of the six routes going clockwise from 18. We also include times, distances travelled, food, accommodation and camping options, a few thoughts and reflections, and the first of four videos from our hike around Jeju Island. For a fully inclusive Olle Trail camping guide featuring a detailed map, check out this post.

WATCH THE VIDEO

THE JEJU OLLE TRAIL

As we camped more often than not, our days on the Olle Trail didn’t neatly follow the official routes. Having identified a good place to camp, we would often stop before or after the stamp spot that marks the route change. And some trails such as Route 1, when we travelled to Udo in between, were split over a few days. As such our account of the Olle Trail is broken down into our own day by day experience. 

If you’re looking for a detailed account of each official route, the Jeju Olle Trail Guidebook is an excellent reference. It’s available for free at Jeju Olle Centres but there aren’t always English copies around. A full PDF of the guidebook is available for download. It can be tricky to view on your phone though so it’s handy to have the actual book. More importantly, don’t forget to pick up your Olle Trail Passport. You can self stamp your progress along the way at the beginning, middle and end of each route, and claim your official certificate when all are completed.

A Note On Times

The daily times mentioned below are split into total time and walking time. The total time is everything from start to finish with all stops, sometimes including both lunch and dinner. Walking time is the amount of time (roughly) that we spent on the move. As we carry big bags and take a lot of photos and video, this is longer than many would take to walk these routes.

Read through our account day by day, or jump to a particular section by clicking on the links below

OLLE TRAIL DAY 1: ROUTE 18
~
JEJU CITY – JOCHEON

DISTANCE

19.6 km

Watch The Relive

TIME

9 hours (total)

6 hours (walking)

ACCOMMODATION

Ocean Grand Hotel
Hamdeok Beach
45,600₩/night Double Room


Heading east out of Jeju City, Olle Route 18 has a lot going for it. Not a classic, but a solid introduction to life on the island. From the Ganse Lounge, the trail markers lead you past some cool street art, through the busy Dongmun covered market, alongside a picturesque stream and up the stone steps to the top of Sara-bong (the first Olle Trail oreum if you’re just starting). At 130 metres or so, it’s not a tough climb, and you’re rewarded with good views back over Jeju City.

A woman wearing hiking clothes and a backpack walks in front of a colourful mural wall in Jeju City, South Korea

Street art at the start of Route 18


A view over Jeju City from the top of nearby Sara-bong hill, with tall apartment buildings and the ocean in view

Looking back over Jeju City from Sara-bong


A woman wearing hiking clothes and a backpack walks in front of a colourful mural wall in Jeju City, South Korea

Street art at the start of Route 18


A view over Jeju City from the top of nearby Sara-bong hill, with tall apartment buildings and the ocean in view

Looking back over Jeju City from Sara-bong


If you’re new to Korea, it’s here you can start to get an appreciation of Korean society. The park at the top is full of exercise equipment, busy with colourfully dressed people of wide ranging ages working out. To us, having lived in the country, it was a normal thing. But as Kim pointed out, it was exactly the sort of spectacle we were fascinated with as Korean newbies.

After Sara-bong the trail leads you down past the main shipping harbour and along the black sand at Samyang Beach. Climbing up Wondang-bong (less than 100 m), you get the chance to look at a couple of temples, the chief of which is the interesting Bultap-sa. The path then winds through fields of wheat and down to the rugged coast, following a dirt trail past impressive inlets formed by Jeju’s distinctive black rock.

A Korean temple with colourful wooden design and curved roof

The main temple building of Bultap-sa


A person with a yellow raincoat is collecting seaweed in the rain by some black volcanic rocks on Jeju Island, South Korea

The rocky black coast of Jeju Island


A Korean temple with colourful wooden design and curved roof

The main temple building of Bultap-sa


A person with a yellow raincoat is collecting seaweed in the rain by some black volcanic rocks on Jeju Island, South Korea

The rocky black coast of Jeju Island


This section from Bultap-sa was a highlight of the day’s walk for us; we started to relax and get into the flow of walking. Meandering through small villages with traditional stone houses and thatched roofs, we felt ourselves leaving the city behind and seeing the real Jeju. Showers came and went – a precursor of the storm to come. Stopping at Daeseom, we watched as a few haenyeo brought in a harvest of seaweed at the shore. The now steady drizzle growing stronger, we had a quick chat with one grey haired woman as she sat sorting the catch. It was to be the first of many encounters with Jeju’s women free divers, the start of a growing interest in their fascinating life and culture.

Two elderly Jeju haenyeo, or female free divers, wade through the water near the shore

Two haenyeo bringing in the catch


An elderly Jeju haenyeo, or female free diver, sorts through her seaweed catch by the shore

Sorting the seaweed in the drizzling rain


Two elderly Jeju haenyeo, or female free divers, wade through the water near the shore

Two haenyeo bringing in the catch


An elderly Jeju haenyeo, or female free diver, sorts through her seaweed catch by the shore

Sorting the seaweed in the rain


We finished the last few kilometres of Route 18 in the rain before jumping on a bus. Our plan to camp had been thwarted by the coming storm and we’d made the decision to book into a hotel in Hamdeok, 6 km into Route 19. With the forecast bad we booked two nights in order to ride out the storm. An emergency alert on our phone later that night confirmed it was the right decision. After enjoying an unexpected hot shower, we tucked into some satisfying kimchi jjigae and a few bottles of makgeolli at a local restaurant.

By now you might be getting the hang of a few Korean words which you’ll see a lot on the Olle Trail. Most things mentioned ending with -bong refer to a hill or peak. A notable exception is of course hallabong, a famous variety of oranges grown on Jeju. And most temple names end with -sa, meaning temple. So for example on Route 18, Bultap-sa is Bultap Temple.

ROUTE 18 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

Jeju City – Ganse Lounge
Hotteok from Dongmun market

Various restaurants at Samyang Beach

CAMP SPOT

Park beyond Sara-bong
(
33.5209, 126.5569)
Pagoda
(33.5365, 126.6118)
Rest area before Daeseom
(33.5367, 126.6127)
Daeseom
(33.5391, 126.6281)

ACCOMMODATION

Jeju City
My Korea Guesthouse (dorms available)
Yeha Guesthouse (dorms available)
 R&T Hotel
Near End Stamp
Morning Beach Pension
Hamdeok Beach
Ocean Grand Hotel


FIND ROUTE 18 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

OLLE TRAIL DAY 2: ROUTE 19 & START OF ROUTE 20
~
JOCHEON – GIMNYEONG BEACH

DISTANCE

21.3 km

Watch the Relive

TIME

9 hours 45 minutes (total)

6 hours 30 minutes (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Gimnyeong Beach Campsite


With both coastal and inland sections Route 19 had potential to be an interesting one, but on a day of persistent rain, we were left feeling lukewarm about this particular trail. It wasn’t until we reached Route 20 that we got our daily dose of Olle excitement.

After a forced day off and two nights in the hotel at Hamdeok, we bussed back to the start of Route 19 to start our second day on the Olle Trail. As we set off, an official guided walk was just starting, a fair sized group of about fifteen. The first section of the route is quite attractive: 6 km following the coastal path to Hamdeok. Sun and showers came and went, and the storm’s strong winds continued to batter us. By the time we made it back to Hamdeok, the increasingly heavy rain and overcast skies encouraged us to stop for an early lunch. After a fortifying burger and a pint of Magpie Porter, we started again with the sun poking through and the promise of a drier afternoon.

A white lighthouse along the rocky black volcanic shore of Jeju Island

The rocky, winswept coastline along the early part of Route 19


A white lighthouse along the rocky black volcanic shore of Jeju Island

The rocky, winswept coastline
along the early part of Route 19


Passing by a volleyball tournament on the busy Hamdeok Beach, we were happy to get a bit of elevation and appreciate the views as we climbed Seou-bong. Skirting the hill along forested trail, we stopped briefly to put jackets and bag covers on as we followed the path down to Bukchon-ri (-ri means village). The forecast’s prediction of rain ending was turning out to be premature. More waterproofs went on undercover at a resting pagoda, where three Korean ladies walking the trail shared some of their plentiful supply of juicy melon.

The white sand, black volcanic coast and green campsite of Hamdeok Beach on Jeju Island, as seen from a nearby oreum

Looking back down to the beach and campsite at Hamdeok


A woman wearing a backpack is hiking through a forest with Jeju Olle Trail hiking flags tied to a tree branch

Following the forested trail on Seou-bong


The white sand, black volcanic coast and green campsite of Hamdeok Beach on Jeju Island, as seen from a nearby oreum

Looking back down to the beach
and campsite at Hamdeok


A woman wearing a backpack is hiking through a forest with Jeju Olle Trail hiking flags tied to a tree branch

Following the forested trail on Seou-bong


We set off again under insistent rain, not heavy but constant, and turned inland after Bukchon-pogu (port). Crossing the main road, the trail headed into a section of Gotjawal (the Jeju dialect word for dense forest). This inland section was okay, but we’d seen more attractive forests on Jeju before, and were both feeling the strain of a day walking in the rain with heavy loads and wet boots. While the weather was undoubtedly colouring our opinion, Route 19 wasn’t really impressing us.

The rain broke and the sun appeared briefly as we walked past rice fields and approached Gimnyeong. After stamping our passport back at the coast, the start of Route 20 immediately captured our attention. Many villages on Jeju have an art thing going on, and with Gimnyeong it’s wire art. Building walls are full of quirky designs and displays, and despite our tired feet and wish to be done, we took the time to properly appreciate it.

A man wearing a large backpack with yellow tent attached stands by a black volcanic stone rock looking out to sea on Jeju Island, South Korea

On the coast at the start of Route 20


A wire art image of a woman covers the corner of a wall, with one half her face and the other half wearing a haenyeo diving mask and hood

Haenyeo wire art in Gimnyeong Village


The words 'Jeju Olle' and a hand holding a pencil are made out of wire and attached to the side of a white house in Gimnyeong Village, Jeju Island

Gimnyeong Village welcoming Olle
walkers with its wire art


A man wearing a large backpack with yellow tent attached stands by a black volcanic stone rock looking out to sea on Jeju Island, South Korea

On the coast at the start of Route 20


As we emerged from the narrow lanes of the village, a striking scene greeted us, a real ‘wow!’ moment: white sand beach, fingers of black rock, crystal clear blue water, bold red lighthouse and spinning wind turbines. It took us a fair while to make it to the campsite at the far end, our attention held by the views and wonderful light. We eventually made camp in view of a dramatic sunset, our day finishing on a considerable high.

A wedding photo shoot takes place on a white sand beach with blue water and wind turbines in the distance

Beach wedding photo sessions are a familiar sight on Jeju Island


The sun sets behind a lighthouse beach scene on Jeju Island

Watching sunset from Gimnyeong Beach campsite


A wedding photo shoot takes place on a white sand beach with blue water and wind turbines in the distance

Beach wedding photo sessions are
a familiar sight on Jeju Island


The sun sets behind a lighthouse beach scene on Jeju Island

Watching sunset from the
campsite at Gimnyeong Beach


ROUTE 19 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

Various Restaurants & Cafes
at Hamdeok Beach

CAMP SPOT

Official campsite at Hamdeok beach or
Gimnyeong Beach (1.6km into start of Route 20)

ACCOMMODATION

Gimnyeong Village
Jejuan Jejuan Guesthouse (dorms available)
Feeling Good House


FIND ROUTE 19 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

OLLE TRAIL DAY 3: ROUTE 20
~
GIMNYEONG BEACH – JEJU HAENYEO MUSEUM

DISTANCE

16.9 km

Watch the Relive

TIME

9 hours 15 minutes (total)

5 hours 30 minutes (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Camping in the Jeju
Haenyeo Museum Grounds


Route 20 was a great walk from start to finish, and talking it over after, we agreed it was certain to make it into our best Olle Trail routes. It was still drizzling and a bit cool in the morning, but the weather cleared throughout the day and ended in glorious sunshine.

From the campsite at Gimnyeong the trail follows the coast, winding along over a narrow rocky path before joining the road. It was here we crossed paths with the guided group again, maybe twenty people this time. I chatted with one guy as we walked. He was Korean, from Seoul, and was fascinated to learn about our impressions of Jeju.

A man is packing away an orange tent with colourful bollards and blue sea behind

Packing up on a blustery morning at Gimnyeong Beach


An elderly woman is driving towards the photographer in a quad bike along an empty seaside road with wind turbines behind

We ran in to a spot of traffic on the road section


A man is packing away an orange tent with colourful bollards and blue sea behind

Packing up on a blustery
morning at Gimnyeong Beach


An elderly woman is driving towards the photographer in a quad bike along an empty seaside road with wind turbines behind

We ran in to a spot of traffic on the road section


As we talked, I continued to walk with the group, assuming Kim was ahead. But after walking over a tricky rocky section by the sea, and back to the road, I became a little concerned. Kim would always wait. Where was she? We were sharing one wifi router and had no way of getting in touch. Turned out she’d followed the trail markers, while the group had skipped a section and continued along the road. Talking away, I hadn’t noticed and was now ahead. When we eventually caught up, she’d been frantically looking for me too. Trying not to let worry and frustration turn to anger, we resolved to keep a closer eye on each other from then on.

On the approach to Woljeong-ri, the trail took us through fields where workers kneeled picking shallots. The scene reminded us of our village in Tongyeong, our home for three years. As we neared the beach, a woman in the guided group stopped Kim, showing her pictures of ticks on her phone and voicing concerns about her bare arms and legs. This was the beginning of our awareness about the increased vigilance against the insects on Jeju, and in Korea in general.

Women are squatting in a field picking shallots

Simple scenes but we just can’t get enough of them


Women are squatting in a field picking shallots

Simple scenes but we can’t get enough of them


Still a little cool and overcast, we snapped some shots at the white sand beach and headed indoors for a spicy bowl of noodles at a Japanese restaurant.

A young couple take a selfie in the distance of an otherwise empty white sand beach with black volcanic rocks

The perfect white sand of Woljeong Beach


A woman wearing a hiking backpack sits on a green wooden chair looking out over a white sand beach to the sea

There’s always a cute chair to sit on


After lunch an enjoyable inland walk took us through charming villages and along narrow farm trails, black stone walls marking out the boundaries. The sun was well and truly out, clouds blown away by the strong winds. Back at the coast we spotted a fair number of orange buoys in the choppy wind-whipped water, a little off the trail at Handong. Going to investigate, we found 60-70 haenyeo busy at work, not far from the shore. Their menfolk were hanging around next to rows of dark blue Bongo vans, ready to carry the catch from the water’s edge when the nets were full. It was a fascinating sight.

A number of men are hanging about by blue pick up trucks at the coast, waiting for their wives to bring in the catch

An easy life for the men?


A haenyeo, or female free diver, is smiling and pushing her net full of seaweed towards the shore

Net full, this haenyeo is ready to come to shore


A number of men are hanging about by blue pick up trucks at the coast, waiting for their wives to bring in the catch

An easy life for the men?


A haenyeo, or female free diver, is smiling and pushing her net full of seaweed towards the shore

Net full, this haenyeo is ready to come to shore


We continued on past more beautiful beaches, and through villages where the distinctive red seaweed gathered by the haenyeo was laid out to dry in the hot sun. Arriving in the town of Sehwa we were greeted with another great expanse of impressive beach. After getting our stamp outside the Haenyeo Museum, scoping out a probable camp spot and enjoying a bottle of makgeolli outside the CU, we had dinner at a little restaurant across the road : beef bulgogi (marinated strips of beef) with rice, along with a generous selection of banchan (side dishes). Tired after our windswept but hugely enjoyable day, we crawled into our sleeping bags, the tent safely nestled in a well protected, wind free dip.

ROUTE 20 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

Various Restaurants & Cafes at
Woljeong Beach or Sehwa Beach

CAMP SPOT

Jeju Haenyeo Museum Grounds

ACCOMMODATION

Sehwa
 
Lefthander Guesthouse (dorms available)
Tangza Salon (dorms available)
Warak Guesthouse (dorms available),
Darak Mama
Jeju Habana Resort


FIND ROUTE 20 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

OLLE TRAIL DAY 4: ROUTE 21
~
JEJU HAENYEO MUSEUM – JONGDAL

DISTANCE

11.3 km

Watch The Relive

TIME

8 hours (total)

4 hours 20 minutes (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Camping in grassy area next to
resting pagodas and crab restaurant


Another fine day, one in which we continued to settle nicely into the Olle rhythm. It was a day of sunshine, learning more about haenyeo, and appreciating some cracking views from the highlight of Route 21, Jimi-bong. 

After packing up, we started the day with a visit to the Jeju Haenyeo Museum (open at 9:00). The building itself is constructed in an interesting style, and the museum is full of interesting exhibits complete with detailed information in English. We learned a lot about the history, culture and traditions of the haenyeo, knowledge which helped to enrich our own experiences as we travelled around Jeju and watched the women divers at work.

The round concrete building of the Jeju Haenyeo Museum

The Jeju Haenyeo Museum: impressive both inside and out 


The round concrete building of the Jeju Haenyeo Museum

The Jeju Haenyeo Museum:
impressive both inside and out 


From the museum the trail continues between fields, through villages and along the coast, similar to Route 20 in many ways. Fields of radishes looked pretty in the sun with their white flowers, but the pungent smell of a few rotting vegetables wafted our way as we passed. Skirting the restored defensive walls at Byeongbanjin, we stopped to watch a local sat cross legged at the trailside, neatly arranging red seaweed on the concrete to be dried. We had lunch around the 3 km mark on the coast at a new donkass (pork cutlet) restaurant: the portions were huge and the food was high quality. 

An elderly man sits on the pavement sorting through seaweed which is spread out all around him, drying in the sun

Seaweed drying in the hot sun


A top-down photo of a plate with pieces of pork cutlet arranged in a circle around a cabbage salad

The perfect high energy lunch


An elderly man sits on the pavement sorting through seaweed which is spread out all around him, drying in the sun

Seaweed drying in the hot sun


A top-down photo of a plate with pieces of pork cutlet arranged in a circle around a cabbage salad

The perfect high energy lunch


Continuing along the coast past Tokki-seom (Rabbit Island), we stopped to speak to a couple of men by the road, husbands of the haenyeo we could see on the rocks below. In our broken conversation we managed to figure out that these were divers of lower skills and ability, only performing less demanding and dangerous tasks. A little further on, just before turning the corner at Hado, we wandered down the slipway to watch some more haenyeo in the water. A group of ten or so husbands were sitting around their Bongo vans eating tangsuyuk (Korean style Chinese crispy sweet and sour pork). They offered us some but we declined, still stuffed from lunch.

The golden sand of Hado Beach was shining in the sun as we followed the trail round. Black rocks draped in seaweed completed the low tide scene, and the beach was busy with school kids kayaking. Jimi-bong’s distinctive shape rose behind, inviting us to climb.

Hado Beach spreads out in front of Jimi-bong, an oreum covered in green trees

Jimi-bong rising behind the sandy expanse of Hado Beach


Hado Beach spreads out in front of Jimi-bong, an oreum covered in green trees

Jimi-bong rising behind the
sandy expanse of Hado Beach


Leaving the coast behind, the trail winds gently up through more fields before reaching the oreum, entering the trees and climbing steeply. Although steep, it only takes 20-30 minutes to get to the top, and the reward is an incredible view of panoramic proportions. For us, the weather couldn’t have been better. It was great to look back on where we’d been, and out to where we’d be going. We could see all the way back to Gimnyeong, while looking ahead, much anticipated Udo and Seongsan Ilchulbong lay before us. We both remarked that had we started at Route 1, this would be a triumphant way to end our tour of the island.

The huge volcanic tuff cone of Seongsan Ilchulbong rises out of the sea in the distance, as seen from the top of Jimi-bong

Looking down on iconic Seongsan Ilchul-bong from the top of Jimi-bong


The huge volcanic tuff cone of Seongsan Ilchulbong rises out of the sea in the distance, as seen from the top of Jimi-bong

Looking down on iconic Seongsan
Ilchul-bong from the top of Jimi-bong


Down in Jongdal-ri we had grilled mackerel and spicy mackerel stew for dinner at a local seafood restaurant, washed down with a bottle of Udo makgeolli. It was our second big feed of the day and we were well satisfied, delighted to be indulging in all the Korean food we’d been missing.

A short walk along the coast from the village, we found our camp spot as the sun was setting. We’d scouted it out using satellite view on our various map apps, but it was a bit more overgrown than the images had suggested. Still, we managed to find a relatively clear patch and got set up just as darkness fell. A second bottle of Udo warmed us as we sat on the nearby pagoda, looking across the water to the twinkling lights of Udo itself.

ROUTE 21 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

살찐고등어
(‘Saljjin Mackerel’ – although it’s not a mackerel restaurant!) donkass/pork cutlet restaurant (33.5265, 126.8847).

Seafood restaurants at Jongdal Harbour

CAMP SPOT

Hado Beach
(
33.5130, 126.8983)
Pagoda area before end of Route 21
(
33.4908, 126.9108)
Rest area at end stamp spot
(33.4887, 126.9055)

ACCOMMODATION

Jongdal Harbour
 
Dongdong Guesthouse (dorms available)
Jimian Pension
 Jeju Attirance
Jeju Arumdaun Resort
A little into start of Route 1
Guesthouse Kim’s Cabin


FIND ROUTE 21 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

OLLE TRAIL DAY 5: ROUTE 1 & 1-1
~
JONGDAL – SANHO BEACH (UDO)

DISTANCE

16.8 km

Watch The Relive

TIME

9 hours (total)

6 hours (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Sanho Beach, Udo


This was a day when we finished up one route, started on a second and ended on a third. It was a day we found enjoyable yet at times frustrating – one of those it’s hard to believe is all the same day. 

A sunset shot of black volcanic rocks with a small lighthouse in the distance

Morning hues from our camp spot near the end of Route 21


A sunset shot of black volcanic rocks with a small lighthouse in the distance

Morning hues from our camp spot
near the end of Route 21


A short walk from our campsite took us to the end of Route 21. From here the Jongdal sand flat curved around towards Seongsan Ilchulbong and the Udo ferry. Before heading in that direction though, there was a big inland section of Route 1 to complete. This is where things got a little disjointed. Route 21 doesn’t end where Route 1 begins – we had to walk for 2 km, crossing the main highway, to reach the official start of the Olle Trail.

The first kilometre of Route 1 meanders gently up through fields on a concrete farm road before reaching the Olle Information Centre. They have toilets, a water cooler inside and all the usual maps, books and souvenirs. The trail then heads up and around two oreums for 5-6 km. The first bit is steep going up but the ascent isn’t too long. The views from the top are wonderful, offering a different perspective to those on Jimi-bong. On that day, lots of other walkers were on the route too, more than we’d seen elsewhere. With it being the original and first Olle Trail route, it seems many people choose to do it as a day hike.

A man wearing a large hiking backpack stands in profile on top of a hill

Looking down on the Jeju coastline


A close up of long beige grass, with Udo Island out of focus in the distance

From Al Oreum, a hazy view of our destination, Udo


A close up of long beige grass, with Udo Island out of focus in the distance

A hazy view of our destination, Udo


A man wearing a large hiking backpack stands in profile on top of a hill

Looking down on the Jeju coastline


Back at Jongdal-ri, we stopped for a picnic bench lunch outside a CU, eating under the welcome shade of a sun umbrella. Frustrations started to creep in for us after this. We realised that we needed cash before going to Udo. After checking the local map apps, we went to get money from an ATM that wasn’t there, then found one at the local NongHyup bank, but it wasn’t a Global machine and didn’t accept our card. As we discovered in the days to come, very few ATMs outside of Jeju City and Seogwipo accept foreign cards, so it pays to be prepared and have enough money with you at all times.

We rejoined the coast just where we’d left it that morning. Given the time wasted with the money issue, and trying to find a toilet (the toilets at the bottom of Al Oreum had been locked), we were a little disheartened only to be back where we’d started. Such feelings however were soon dispelled, as the island worked its charms once more. White egrets stepped daintily on the sand flat expanse, the everchanging view of Seongsan Ilchulbong an impressive backdrop. At the roadside, long lines of photogenic squid were strung up to dry, capturing our attention as we passed.

A profile shot of a woman wearing hiking clothes and a backpack walking along a pavement with squid strung up to dry

We never get enough of scenes like this


A close up of five squid drying on a rope by the seaside

Drying squid or decorative art?


A close up of five squid drying on a rope by the seaside

Drying squid or decorative art?


A profile shot of a woman wearing hiking clothes and a backpack walking along a pavement with squid strung up to dry

We never get enough of scenes like this


Continuing round to the port, I left my bag with Kim at a CU and jogged into town, eventually finding a suitable ATM. By 5:00 we were on the ferry, and after a 15 minute crossing on calm waters, we arrived on Udo.

Our passport stamped, we made a beeline for a sign advertising an Udo peanut ice cream extravaganza, demolishing it on our way round to Sanho Beach. The remaining tourists were snapping their photos before riding back to port on or in whatever variety of two or four wheeled contraption they’d chosen. The last two ferries to the mainland were loaded to capacity, in stark contrast to ours with only a handful of passengers. With the tent up we sat on the beach drinking beers from the nearby CU, watching the sun go down behind silhouetted oreums in spectacular fashion.

A sunset going down behind a ferry sailing across the sea

Watching the last ferry cruise by as the sun sets 


A sunset going down behind a ferry sailing across the sea

Watching the last ferry cruise by as the sun sets 


Restaurants, cafes… everything around us was closed. The options for dinner were something from the CU, or heading off to investigate the only place with lights on back towards the port. We made the right choice, enjoying a hearty bowl of jeonbok juk (abalone porridge) and a bottle of peanut makgeolli at the only restaurant open.

ROUTE 1 & 1-1 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

전복죽 Abalone Juk
(a risotto like dish commonly translated as ‘porridge’)
At the seafood restaurants after Jongdal seaside or on Udo
땅콩 막걸리 Peanut makgeolli
(creamy fermented rice drink)
Anywhere, but especially on Udo where the peanuts come from

CAMP SPOT

Udo Island
Sanho Beach
(33.5012, 126.9434)
Hagosudong Beach
(33.5133, 126.9581)
Biyangdo
(33.5155, 126.9690)

UDO ISLAND FERRY INFO

Seongsan Port ~ Udo Island 
Every 30 minutes between 0800 & 1700
(up to 1830 May to Aug)
 ₩8,500 return

FIND ROUTE 1-1 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

EXPLORE MORE OF JEJU

A female Olle Trail hiker standing by a Hallabong mosaic mural, looking out to sea on Jeju Island
The Best Beaches On Jeju Island
Diving Jeju Island South Korea
A Week On The Olle: Jeju Olle Video

OLLE TRAIL DAY 6: ROUTE 1-1
~
SANHO BEACH – HAGOSUDONG BEACH

DISTANCE

11 km

Watch The Relive

TIME

6 hours (total)

4 hours (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Hagosudong Beach, Udo


The only day on our entire Jeju Olle Trail journey when we neither started nor finished a route (storm affected days notwithstanding). Udo was a place we’d looked forward to visiting for some time, and with the weather in our favour we weren’t about to rush. It was a great day with outstanding views from beginning to end.

We were woken at dawn by the whistling sound of sumbisori, the noise haenyeo make when they come up for air and exhale carbon dioxide from their lungs in short bursts. They were just metres from the shore on a perfectly still morning. All else was quiet, amplifying the sharp high-pitched sound and the soft slap of fin on water. The dreamy pastel hues completed the idyllic scene.

  • A haenyeo's fins and orange buoy are visible above the water as she duck dives at dawn on Udo Island, South Korea
  • A haenyeo's fins and orange buoy are visible above the water as she duck dives at dawn on Udo Island, South Korea

Peaceful perfection watching the haenyeo at work

We took our time, having a leisurely morning and taking advantage of the nearby taps to do some quick laundry, hanging it to dry on the lifejacket racks behind our tent. While we sat eating breakfast and enjoying the sea view, a French photojournalist jumped from his car and asked to take our photo. He was in the process of making a book about Jeju, Udo, and specifically the haenyeo.

A man and woman sit on a bench on the beach, next to an orange tent looking out to sea and across to Jimi-bong oreum

The scene that looked so good to that French photojournalist


While camping the Jeju Olle Trail, two people sit on a bench next to their tent on Udo Island, watching birds on a rock at sea with the Jeju Island coastline in the distance

The scene that looked so good
to that French photojournalist


The tourists started to appear around eight, arriving on shuttle buses, scooters, bicycles or electric buggies. By ten, we were packed and underway, wandering the inland paths through fields of barley and wheat, past whitewashed houses with bright red roofs. Walking Route 1-1 in reverse, it was orange arrows we followed rather than blue.

Back to the coast then up towards Udo-bong, we were struck by the crowds, quite different from our experience so far. Udo is a big tourist destination. As such it feels very different to many places on the Olle Trail, where you tend to meet mostly locals and other walkers. There’s something quite strange about humphing your bag around on your sweaty body, while others step off air-conditioned buses fashionably dressed. But, it’s all part of experiencing the multifaceted Jeju.

We took in the fantastic views from the lookout on Udo-bong, before following the trail up the steps to the lighthouse, and down to Geommeolle Beach on the other side.

A rock feature that looks like a cow and gives the island of Udo its name

The viewpoint on the cow-shaped rock that gave the island its name


A view of Seongsan Ilchulbong from Udo while walking on the Jeju Olle Trail

Yet another view of the famous rock, Seongsan Ilchul-bong


A rock feature that looks like a cow and gives the island of Udo its name

People at the viewpoint, on the cow-shaped
rock that gave the island its name


A view of Seongsan Ilchulbong from Udo while walking on the Jeju Olle Trail

Another view of the famous rock,
Seongsan Ilchul-bong


Lunch was some delicious tangsuyuk at a nearby restaurant, finished off with peanut ice cream from the famous Jimmy’s – a notch above the one the day before. 

A couple more kilometres had us on the shores of Hagosudong Beach, a beautiful sight with varied shades of blue lapping the golden white sand. After scouting out potential camp spots, we took a side trip to Biyangdo to check out the views and the campsite there. There were a few tents already set up, but we didn’t fancy it so headed back to the beach. 

  • Palm trees line the foreground, with Hagosudong Beach and the sea in the background. This is one of the best beaches on Jeju Island.
  • Palm trees line the foreground, with Hagosudong Beach and the sea in the background. This is one of the best beaches on Jeju Island.

The golden sand, blue sea and palm
trees of Hagosudong Beach

After a couple of hours in a cafe with a view, we moved on to another waterfront spot for some delicious cold buckwheat noodles, sitting on the terrace and enjoying the golden hour glow. As darkness arrived, we set up camp on the grassy section behind the beach, partially hidden from view by the row of palms. This part of the island was clearly busier, with tourists and locals alike. Unlike the previous night, places were still open and people wandering around until nine or ten.

ROUTE 1-1 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

Geommeolle Beach
Peanut and/or orange ice cream from Jimmy’s
탕수육 tangsuyuk (Korean style Chinese sweet and sour pork)
from the restaurant to the left
Hagosudong Beach
Iced buckwheat noodles at 메밀꽃

CAMP SPOT

Sanho Beach
(
33.5012, 126.9434)
Hagosudong Beach
(
33.5133, 126.9581)
Biyangdo
(33.5155, 126.9690)


FIND ROUTE 1-1 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

OLLE TRAIL DAY 7: FINISH ROUTE 1-1 & ROUTE 1
~
HAGOSUDONG BEACH – GWANGCHIGI BEACH

DISTANCE

9.5 km

Watch The Relive

TIME

10 hours (total)

5 hours (walking)

CAMP SPOT

Gwangchigi Beach


A day in which the stretch of near perfect weather continued and we visited Jeju Island’s most popular tourist site. We finished our time on Udo with more sightings of haenyeo in stunning locations, and ended the day wowed further by Jeju’s dramatic natural beauty. It was a day that would cement Route 1 in our minds as a definite inclusion in the best Olle Trail routes.

After witnessing an exceptional sunrise, we threw ourselves in the chilly water at Hagosudong Beach. Five days since our last shower, it was enough to leave us feeling fresh and revived. Kim completed the job by washing her hair at the toilet  taps, and we were packed up and on our way before ten.

A tall statue of a women free diver with the sun bursting between the crook of her arm. An image from one of the best beaches on Jeju Island, Hagosudong Beach.

The rising sun perfectly captured in the arm of a three metre high statue of a haenyeo


A tall statue of a women free diver with the sun bursting between the crook of her arm. An image from one of the best beaches on Jeju Island, Hagosudong Beach.

The rising sun perfectly captured in the arm
of a three metre high statue of a haenyeo


The trail took us inland, winding through green fields, before dropping us back at the coast. The light was bright and the water still, giving the landscape a hyper-realistic quality. We sat at the end of a seaweed covered slipway to watch the haenyeo dive, and admire a row of black cormorants stretching their wings on a jagged, shell encrusted rock.

  • Black cormorants on a rock in the sea with Jeju haenyeo (women free divers) in the sea behind
  • Black Cormorants on a rock in the sea off of Udo Island

The favourite place for all the black
cormorants to hang out in the sun

We left on the twelve o’ clock ferry and twenty minutes later rejoined Route 1 back on Jeju. A short walk along the coast took us to Seongsan-ri. We found a suitable restaurant and got tucked into a great spread, centred around two of our favourites: haemul pajeon (savoury seafood pancake) and dolsot bibimbap (rice, veg & meat mixed together in a hot stone pot). It was the perfect energy boost to get us up and down Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Leaving our big bags at the ticket checking booth, we followed the steps to the top. The way was steep but not too long; we reached the crater in about twenty minutes. The views out from the top were incredible, and the sight of the tuff cone itself, thick with green life, was more than worth the effort. It wasn’t busy, but having experienced a New Year’s Day sunrise on another mountain in Korea, we could easily imagine the wooden viewing platforms packed with an atmospheric crowd on a cold January 1st morning. The route back down follows a different set of stairs, and it’s here you can really appreciate the views back across Jeju.

A person leaning on a wooden railing looking out over the lush green crater of Seongsan Ilchulbong on Jeju, while walking the Olle Trail

The view over Seonsan-ri and the rest of Jeju from the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong

A view of Seongsan Ilchulbong with the curved black sand beach below

A person leaning on a wooden railing looking out over the lush green crater of Seongsan Ilchulbong on Jeju, while walking the Olle Trail

Enjoying the view over the lush green crater


The view over Seonsan-ri and the rest of Jeju from the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong

Spectacular landscape scene looking
down on the Seongsan Peninsula


Before getting our bags, we went down to the black sand beach below, a dark curve bordered by rocks and backed by the towering sides of the mountain. It’s here that some haenyeo put on daily ‘performances’ – gathering seafood in the shallow bay. We watched as the last of the three o’clock divers came ashore, prepared their catch in a nearby shack, and sold plates of fresh abalone and conch to the admiring crowds.

One of the haenyeo divers walking on a rocky shore with her catch in a net and orange flotation buoy slung over her shoulder

One of the haenyeo coming ashore with her catch


One of the haenyeo divers walking on a rocky shore with her catch in a net and orange flotation buoy slung over her shoulder

One of the haenyeo coming ashore


Back on the trail and eager for coffee, we bypassed Starbucks and the like and found a nice little corner cafe called Sooma (수마) – the drinks were great and the sea views weren’t bad either. After charging up on both coffee and electricity, we stocked up on a few items at the GS25 and began the final stretch of Route 1.  The trail meandered along the coast, a sandy, grassy path; looking back, Seongsan Ilchulbong dominated the skyline, and below, the rocky shore grew more impressive as we approached Gwangchigi Beach.

We found the little Ganse horse and got our stamp just half an hour before sunset. It was low tide and the exposed shoreline was busy with people rock hopping and taking photos, the perfectly still rock pools creating amazingly clear reflections.

  • People reflected in rock pools at sunset, with the towering rock of Seongsan Ilchulbong rising behind on Jeju Island
  • People reflected in rock pools at sunset, with the towering rock of Seongsan Ilchulbong rising behind on Jeju Island

The rocks at Gwangchigi Beach are an
extremely popular photo spot at low tide

Having seen an ideal camp spot a kilometre back up the trail, we retraced our steps and settled in for the night. A bottle of makgeolli and a simple dinner rounded of what had been a brilliant day, and we watched as the stars came out above the dark bulk that was Seongsan Ilchulbong.

ROUTE 1 RECOMMENDATIONS

FOOD

한성 식당 ‘Hanseong Restaurant’
(near Seongsan Ilchulbong)
해물파전 seafood pancake
&
돌솥 비빔밥 hot stone pot bibimbap

수마 ‘
Sooma Cafe’
Coffee, juices and sweet treats at a
tastefully renovated traditional house
(33.4609, 126.9339)

CAMP SPOT

Gwangchigi Beach
(
33.4562, 126.9275)


FIND ROUTE 1 ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

JEJU OLLE TRAIL PART I

Routes 18 to 1

That’s it for Part One. We hope you’ve enjoyed our account of Jeju Olle Trail Routes 18 to 1, and if you’re planning your own Olle adventure, will find the information and recommendations useful. And if you have a question about anything at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch by leaving a comment below.

ORGANISE YOUR TRIP TO JEJU NOW

Booking.com


Booking.com

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – if you purchase a product or service via these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps offset the cost of running this blog and keeps us travelling so that we can continue to produce great content for you. We greatly appreciate your support!*

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Hiking the Jeju Olle Trail, South Korea. This 425km walk encircles beautiful Jeju Island. In the first of four videos we head clockwise from Jeju City on Routes 18 to 1 visiting Hamdeok, Woljeong & Gimnyeong beaches, Udo Island, Seongsang Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) & more. We encounter Jeju\'s haenyeo (female free divers), eat delicious Korean food & wild camp in stunning spots. Includes a full guide with food, camping & accommodation recommendations. #Korea #video
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