Written and photographed by Stephanie and Ryan Hedger
Getting to Geumo-do is fairly simple by car, but Geumo-do is a fairly large island off of the southern tip of Dolsan in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do. Island-hopping and exploring the numerous (373) islands claimed by the city is a great way to while away hot summer afternoons with a cool ocean breeze on your face and the lovely Jeollanam-do coast in front of you. Geumo-do is the perfect prospect for a summer weekend with both surf and sand. After enjoying the beach, there are also kilometers upon kilometers of hiking trails on one of Korea’s most beautiful coastal treks. A Sunday hike after camping on Saturday is as close to a perfect outdoor itinerary as anyone could hope for.
Getting to Geumo-do is fairly simple by car and only slightly more complicated when using public transportation. At the far end of Dolsan is Singi Port; ferries leave every half hour for the island. A 20-minute ride away, the island has a great many more luxuries than you would expect compared to other islands. Comprised of a handful of small villages and towns, Geumo-do has plenty of marts and enough infrastructure to accommodate visitors, no matter their reason for visiting.
Ando Beach Camping
One of the most popular camping beaches on Geumo-do is found at Ando Beach. Well-reputed among campers, this beach has a small mart, and shower and restroom facilities to ensure that anyone visiting for the beach or for camping has everything they need. Winding down the awesome roads of Geumo-do to find this beach hidden away is like being welcomed home after a long trip. There is a large shelf above the beach that can accommodate dozens of tents, though we have never had more than two neighbors on our visits. Further from the facilities, campers can find trees to provide shade and allow for hammocks to be tied up. In the afternoon, fortunately, this east-facing beach becomes heavily shaded from the nearby mountain.
Geumo-do Coastal Trek – Bireong-gil
Jeollanam-do has a multitude of coastal treks on its islands and peninsulas, but this five-part trail is unequivocally the most beautiful. This rolling trail perfectly balances time spent in the trees and time with stunning views of the island’s pronounced coast. With a total distance of 18.5 kilometers, Bireong-gil is quite a long trail, but ambitious hikers can absolutely complete it in a single day. For those wanting to hike a portion of the total course, there are ample opportunities to rest in large shaded areas, overlook areas with amazing vistas, and even a few restaurants for those inclined to mix a bit of light outdoor activity with coffee, soup, pajeon (green onion pancake), or some local makgeolli (traditional rice wine)! Starting at Hamgumi Ferry Terminal, Course One is a lovely trail through beautiful terrain and is considered to be the most beautiful of the five courses because of its towering cliffs and viewpoints. Regardless of how far you hike this trail, you would be hard pressed not to be blown away by its natural beauty.
Yeosu has dozens of islands worth visiting, but Geumo-do might just be the most well-rounded and stunning option available. With beautiful beaches, secluded camping, and the best coastal trek in Jeollanam-do, this island is a ferry ride away from the perfect summer getaway without having to travel very far.
Ryan and Stephanie have lived, traveled, and worked in South Korea since 2013. Based out of Yeosu, they are the duo behind Hedgers Abroad, their blog, which documents their lives through photography, videos, and shared stories. They freelance in their spare time and are on the road constantly.