On my second trip to Jeju I decided to visit Udo, an island 3.5 km off the north-eastern coast of Jeju. I did not expect much as it is just a small island. I was wrong. It turned out to be a charming little place with emerald blue seas, white coral sand beaches, black sand beaches, breathtaking landscape and many interesting places swarming with happy holiday makers. I’ve not been to Bhutan (ranked No. 1 in happiness in a CNN report), but Udo would be #1 on my list of Happiest Place on Earth.
The car cum passenger ferry to Udo Island leaves every 30 mins from Seongsan Port and arrives at Cheonjin Port. The journey takes about 15 mins. The GPS Tel no to Seongsan Port is 7825671.
If you’re driving your rented car to Udo watch the video below showing how cars are loaded onto the ferry. Not to worry there are helpers to guide you if you are not confident of reversing onto the ferry platform.
The short journey can be choppy depending on weather, but seasickness should not be an issue. The fun starts right on the ferry as can be seen by these day trippers happily feeding seagulls along the way.
[Aug 2018 Update]: I’ve just read a report on Korea’s KBS News that vehicles are banned from entering Udo Island. I can’t find any other news sources confirming this. I will provide an accurate update when I visit Udo again in Oct 2018.
Important tip: As you might be carried away merrily exploring the beautiful island, be reminded that the last ferry back from Udo varies depending on season. Here’s the full Udo Island ferry schedule and fares.
Getting Around Udo Island
According to the brochure given to us when we booked our tickets, Udo means “Cow Island”. It got it’s name because it looks like a cow lying down. The isle is just 6 km² in size and can be covered on foot in a day if you are prepared to trek the 16 km route around the island. This is part of the Olle Trail. See map below.
There are many modes of transport around the island: you can hop on a public bus, rent a bicycle, scooter, ATV (all terrain vehicle) or colorful tri and quad-wheelers of various shapes and sizes. Whichever mode of transport you choose you’ll certainly feel the happiness in the air.
Here are some of the recommended scenic places on Udo:
- Hu-Hae-Seok-Byeok: Unique 20m high vertical cliff which has well aligned faults looking like neatly stacked rock pieces.
- Seo-Bin-Baek-Sa: Beach with fine white sand and emerald blue sea on the west coast of Udo
- Ji-Du-Cheong-Sa: Lush green grassland leading up to the peak of Udo. Quite a trek up to the lighthouse and observatory at the top but the spectacular views are rewarding.
- Biyang Island: Interesting black pebble island with a yellow-and-black lighthouse connected by a narrow road to Udo.
- Geommeolle Beach: Black sand beach surrounded by unique rocky cliffs. Speedboats are available for hire for scenic views around the bay and through the Dongangyeonggul Cave.
- Dong-An-Gyeong-Gul Cave: Cliff with a cave at the end of Geommeolle Beach. Accessible only at low tide.
- Ju-Gan-Myeong-Wol: Another unique cave where the sun reflects off the water onto the wall of the cliff in the morning forming the shape of the moon.
We brought our rental car across and drove along the coast starting from Cheonjin Port in an anti-clockwise direction. It’s hard to believe this small island has so much to offer. This place invoked a feeling that says don’t rush right from the moment we stepped off the ferry. So we took a slow leisurely drive with the windows down to enjoy the cool spring breeze and made several pit-stops to enjoy the scenery.
Along the way we stopped by Jimmy’s Ice-Cream for a creamy peanut ice cream. It was something I had wanted to try as Udo is famous for its locally grown peanuts. It was really good.
There are many restaurants in Udo so we were spoilt for choice. Since the weather was nice and cool we decided to order takeway burger and fries from a cafe along the way and had a picnic lunch by a gazebo overlooking the Sea of Japan near Biyang-do. After lunch we spent most of our time at picturesque Geommeolle Beach sipping coffee at Dennis Cafe enjoying the panoramic view.
We could not cover all the recommended places of interest in the brochure. To fully appreciate Udo Island and all it has to offer would definitely require more than a day. Good excuse for a return visit 🙂
Affordable Accommodations in Jeju
Here are some recommended accommodations right in the heart of Seogwipo. These are in great locations with easy access to attractions in the Southern part of Jeju where all the major attractions are located.
1. The Island Blue Hotel, Jeju is a 4-star hotel right in the city center walking distance to great eateries.
2. Days Hotel Jeju Seogwipo Ocean – spacious and clean with valet parking facilities.
3. The Ocean Palace Hotel is a bit old but the rooms are huge and clean with recent renovation. Great location with views of the ocean from higher floors.