Jeju Island, located off the tip of South Korea, is a paradise for geologists, honeymooners, and adventurers alike. I ventured to Jeju on a recommendation from a friend, as well as seeing the epic pictures of the Seongsan Ilchulbong. Jeju is a geological paradise, with interesting volcanic features such as Mt. Hallasan, an almost perfect Shield Volcanos, great examples of parasitic volcanos, the almost perfect Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, and the largest lava tubes in the world.
In addition to exploring the geology, I also did a bit of adventuring and sightseeing. I had a great time exploring the markets and massive underground mall in the main city of Jeju, got lost for an afternoon in a fun hedge maze, and enjoyed lots of fried chicken and beer with the local gang of korean kids staying with me in the hostel.
Jeju should certainly be on a “must-see” list for a complete Korea vacation – but four or five days is definitely enough. Transportation around Jeju was easy – busses run around the entire island, and they’re quick and easy to find.
Wikipedia: Jeju Province (officially the Jeju Special Autonomous Province) is one of the nine provinces of South Korea. The province is situated on and coterminous with the nation’s largest island of Jeju (also Jejudo), formerly transliterated as Cheju, Cheju Do, etc., or known as Quelpart to Europeans. The island lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of South Jeolla Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. Its capital is Jeju City.
Silver fish dominate the fish portion of the Jeju Fish Market.
Jeju Island is known for its amazing citrus crop, and in the markets vendors display some of the most beautiful citrus I’ve seen.
Koreans very much love the Fried Chicken and Beer. More than once, people invited me to have friend chicken and beer with them, and there are fried chicken and beer shops all over korea. It’s a simple, tasty, but rather unhealthy meal. Still great fun! This Hite beer we were drinking comes in big 2L bottles
Hiking up Mt. Halasan, the well-worn trail gives way to slick snow on the higher half of the mountain. Avid Korean hikers are quick to strap on metal mesh grips to their hiking shoes in order to navigate the snowpack.
Parasitic volcanos dot the Jejuan landscape all the way to the water’s edge.
The top of Mt. Halasan.
Hiking down into the forest. Fog blanketed Jeju Island frequently during my visit, and gave the whole place a sense of wonder. Very cool!
The entrance to the Manjanggul Cave lava tube, one of the largest lava tubes in the world. Although well developed and visited frequently, descending into the tube felt a bit like entering the tubular temple complex from the movie “Promethius”.
Lots of attractions on Jeju are ideally suited for couples, including the Gimnyeong Maze Park. A hedge maze!
Making it to the end of Gimnyeong Maze Park, Jeju
Inside the lava tube, LED lights illuminate the various formations. Walking the 1km through the opened section is easy – the floor is almost perfectly flat, thanks to gravity and cooling liquid lava.
Exploring deeper into the cave. The entire accessible portion is about 1km long.
The texture of the walls changes dramatically.
The cave is truly amazing. From UNESCO: “The Geomunoreum lava tube system, which is regarded as the finest such cave system in the world, has an outstanding visual impact even for those experienced with such phenomena. It displays the unique spectacle of multi-coloured carbonate decorations adorning the roofs and floors, and dark-coloured lava walls, partially covered by a mural of carbonate deposits. The fortress-like Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone, with its walls rising out of the ocean, is a dramatic landscape feature, and Mount Halla, with its array of textures and colours through the changing seasons, waterfalls, display of multi-shaped rock formations and columnar-jointed cliffs, and the towering summit with its lake-filled crater, further adds to the scenic and aesthetic appeal.”
Sunset from the foot of the Seongsan Ilchulbong.
Taking the ferry to Udo Island, a quick 15 minute ferry ride.
A lighthouse on the way to Udo Island
I woke up on my final morning in Jeju excited to witness the sunrise at the Seongsan Ilchulbong. However, after arriving at 5am, and patiently waiting for the sun to appear – nothing happened. The entire formation was socked in by heavy fog. This was the best pic I could get – of the empty viewing deck!
Descending the steps from the viewing deck of the Seongsan Ilchulbong. Dissapointed, but still had a good early morning hike.
The outside of the Seongsan Ilchulbong formation.
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