Jeju Island, South Korea’s largest island
Written by Keator Cheng
On 29 May 2024

Jeju Island, located off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula, is a paradise of volcanic landscapes, lush greenery and rich cultural heritage.

Jeju offers an array of natural wonders that make it an ideal destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts alike.

Photo by Linda Yuan on Unsplash

Volcanic Wonders and Natural Beauty

Jeju Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, celebrated for its dramatic volcanic features and biodiversity. The island’s landscape is dominated by Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano and South Korea’s highest peak. Here are some must-visit natural attractions:

Photo by Looie Kang on Unsplash

Hallasan National Park:

  • Hiking: The park offers several hiking trails that lead to the summit of Hallasan, providing stunning views of the island and its crater lake, Baengnokdam.
  • Flora and fauna: The park is home to a variety of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to Jeju.

Manjanggul Cave:

  • Lava tube: This massive lava tube stretches over 7 kilometres, though only a one kilometre section is open to the public. Inside, visitors can marvel at the impressive lava stalagmites and other formations.

Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak):

  • Scenic hike: Formed by a volcanic eruption, this tuff cone crater is a popular spot to watch the sunrise. The hike to the top is relatively easy and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Photo by Linda Yuan on Unsplash

Cheonjiyeon and Jeongbang Waterfalls:

  • Waterfalls: These beautiful waterfalls are two of Jeju’s most famous, offering picturesque spots for relaxation and photography. Jeongbang Waterfall is unique in that it falls directly into the sea.

Cultural experiences

Jeju Island is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural treasure trove. The island has a distinct culture that is different from mainland Korea, influenced by its unique history and geography.

Photo by john ko on Unsplash

Haenyeo Culture:

  • Female divers: The haenyeo, or ‘sea women’, are female divers who harvest seafood without the use of breathing apparatus. This centuries-old tradition is recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Diving demonstrations: Visitors can watch haenyeo diving demonstrations and learn about their way of life at the Haenyeo Museum.

Jeju Folk Village Museum:

  • Traditional life: This open-air museum showcases traditional Jeju houses and lifestyle. It offers a glimpse into the island’s past with displays of historical artifacts and re-enactments of traditional customs.

Jeju Stone Park:

  • Cultural symbolism: This park is dedicated to the island’s unique volcanic stone culture, featuring stone sculptures and installations that highlight Jeju’s mythology and history.

Seongeup Folk Village:

  • Historic village: This well-preserved village offers insights into Jeju’s traditional architecture and lifestyle. Visitors can explore thatched-roof houses, stone walls and ancient Confucian shrines.

Adventure and recreation

Photo by john ko on Unsplash

Jeju Island is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities that cater to various interests:


  • Jeju Olle Trail: This series of walking trails around the island is perfect for hiking and cycling, providing scenic views of the coastline, forests and rural areas.
  • Bike Rentals: Cycling around the island is a popular way to explore, with numerous rental shops and well-marked bike paths.

Water Sports:

  • Surfing: The island’s beaches, such as Jungmun and Hamdeok, are popular spots for surfing and other water sports.
  • Diving and Snorkeling: The clear waters around the island offer excellent opportunities for diving and snorkeling, particularly near Seogwipo.

Horseback Riding:

  • Equestrian Culture: Jeju is known for its native horses, and horseback riding is a popular activity. Several ranches offer rides through scenic landscapes.

Culinary delights

Jeju’s cuisine is another highlight, with a focus on fresh seafood and local produce.

Photo by Hoyoung Choi on Unsplash


  • Raw fish (Hoe): Freshly caught fish is a staple, often served raw in dishes like hoe (sliced raw fish).
  • Abalone: Known for its quality, Jeju abalone is a delicacy served in various forms, from grilled to in porridge (jeonbokjuk).

Black Pork:

  • Unique flavour: Jeju black pork, from a breed native to the island, is renowned for its tender texture and rich flavor. It is often enjoyed grilled at traditional barbecue restaurants.


  • Local Fruit: Jeju is famous for its tangerines which are sweet and juicy. Visiting a tangerine orchard is a popular activity, especially in the harvest season.

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