Three hours pass as you cruise on a cushy ferry out to, quite literally, the middle of the East Sea of Korea. A large mass appears on the horizon. Dramatic, rocky peaks define the ridge line of the volcanic island. You can just begin to make out a demarkation where the land mass meets the water; the legendary coastal walkway winds around the base of the island. You’ve nearly reached Ulleungdo, the dreamiest destination in Korea.
While Ulleungdo has been on my Korea travel wish list since I arrived in Korea in 2011, I was hesitant to spend over ₩200,000 to only be on the island for 24 hours. I have a dear friend who, after completing her extensive travels around southeast Asia, continued to stand by her claim that Ulleungdo is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. I assumed this was a bit of a euphemism, an over exaggeration, as I myself often tend to spout such exclamations about the places I love dearly in Korea.
My friend’s celebration of Ulleungdo was not an exaggeration: Ulleungdo is just dreamy. It’s stunning. It’s breathtaking. Reminiscent of the Northern California coastline, Ulleungdo’s scenery is not comparable to anything else in Korea, not even Jeju. It’s simply not to be missed on a stint of any length in Korea.
Mountainous trails, coastal walkways, pumpkin makgeolli (!) and dried squid as far as the eye can see are a few of the things not to be missed on a trip to the venerable island. Some had warned of extremely rocky ferry rides, but I experienced no discomfort. However, our ferry did depart for the mainland several hours early to avoid tumultuous waters. Trips are often cancelled and ferries are frequently stopped for days at a time, so be flexible when planning a visit. My plans to hike to the peak of the island were cut short due to our early departure time.
As I traveled with Seoul Hiking Group, I will not attempt to provide information on how to get to the island, although this is a destination for which I would recommend joining a group trip. It was incredibly convenient and, in this particular instance, I can see no benefit from going on your own. Our pension seemed to be brand new and was located just a few steps from the costal walking path, convenience stores and several restaurants.
The photos speak for themselves. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience this amazing destination- and with perfect weather, nonetheless! Photographs taken with my Holga are also on the way.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to take a glimpse into mine.