Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Incheon’s Idyllic Islands from 10 Magazine

Hi all, I have taken out the entire article and the pictures from 10 Magazine as I really really wanted to share this beautiful information to you all as people hardly read most of the magazines....

Daebu, Jebu, Yeongjong, and Ganghwa—these are just a few of the islands to be found off the coast of Incheon.

A number of outstanding weekend retreats on peaceful islets with stunning coastal scenery lie far closer than you might commonly imagine. The rugged beauty of Ulleung Island (울릉도) in the East Sea or Hong Island (홍도) in the West Sea is reproduced on a number of the islands located in the waters just immediately to the west. These are islands where rock stacks and sea cliffs vie with the pounding ocean for ascendancy and where one may hike sublimely—and alone—along quiet, contemplative shores.
A disparate arc of such islands extends some 100 kilometers from only just south of the NLL (Northern Limit Line) to a little north of the Taean Coast National Marine Park (태안해안국립공원) in Chungcheong Province. Most of the islands covered here have small permanent communities which offer affordable minbak (민박) rented rooms and are easily accessed over the weekend. Accommodation can often be arranged in advance, courtesy of information collated on the internet and then confirmed by phone (spoken Korean being a definite advantage here). For the purposes of this article, the islands are grouped by means of access, beginning with those that may be reached by bus or car via bridges and causeways and wrapping up with those that only offer ferry service.

By Bridge. . .
Islands that are now connected to the mainland by the construction of major bridges are, of course, the most accessible, and many local buses traverse the following locations.

The Gangwha Group

The eastern coast of Ganghwa Island (강화도) holds the restored remains of fortifications that enabled the Goryeo royal court to stare down the marauding Mongols, glumly encamped on the opposite shore for several decades. The best, and largest, of these is Gwangseongbo Fort. On the south of the Island, Mani Mountain is a fantastic peak with only an hour’s climb (including 40 minutes of stairs) to a lovely peak that looks out over the nearby seas. Similarly, in the far south of the island lies the Ganghwa Foreshore Center, with postcard perfect mud flats ( 032-937-5057). In the extreme north of the island is the Ganghwa Peace Observatory, which may be reached by car (032-930-7062).
From the port of Oepo on the east of Gangwha Island, travelers can reach another smaller island, called Seokmo Island (석모도). This is famed for the fabulous little temple of Bomun and a hiking trail along the spine of rolling hills that cross the island north to south, which terminates at the hill just above the temple grounds itself. Thirsty hikers can make a beeline for one of the many makgeolli stores located just outside the temple’s gate. To reach this hiking trail, you can take a local bus to be found approximately ten minutes from the port terminal bus stop. 032-930-3114

Incheon Bridge

The Yeongjong Group

Yeongjong Island
Incheon Airport is built on land reclaimed from the sea that once separated two distinct islands, now combined into Yeongjong Island (영종도). Though the expressway rail service connecting the airport with Seoul Station in the heart of the capital was built with international passengers in mind, it also comes in handy for island hoppers.
One recommended course is the pleasant walk (45 minutes, moderate difficulty) to the local peak (Baegun Mountain) not far from the Science Musuem (, which on a clear day has commanding views of the airport and surrounding waters. The train begins at the top of the road running alongside the museum and continues over the peak and down to the famous (and minute) Yonggung Temple. The Science Museum itself can most simply be accessed by taxi from Unseo Stn. on the AREX airport line. There are modest beaches on Yeongjong island, as well as the four smaller islands to the north, but for a far better stretch of sand, head south to Muui Island.
Rumor has it that Muui Island (무의도) may eventually be connected by bridge to Yeongjeong Island (and hence to the mainland). In the meantime, you can head to the Jamjin Island dock to make use of the rather pricey ferry service to Muui Island, which accommodates vehicles. There are two quite reasonable beaches here. The larger beach, Hanagae, benefits from a local bus service. From the southern end of the beach, a trail leads up to one of the two major peaks on the island, a scenic spot from which you can watch the aircraft dramatically arriving in the distance and contemplate the bay immediately below. The other beach on the island is Silmido Beach, located a 40-minute walk from the ferry terminal. Korean cinema buffs may want to wait for low tide so they can walk across to Silmi Island, the site of the events on which the hit movie Silmido was based. 032-760-7114

The Daebu Group
Daebu Island (대부도), which is technically part of Ansan rather than Incheon, lies 15 kilometers west of the Wolgot interchange on the Yeongdeung Expressway. An enormous viaduct connects the island to the mainland, and another bridge leads travelers out even further to Yeongheung Island. Daebu is where you can find the delightful Baradel horse riding complex (for more, see the article on p. 59). Otherwise, however, it lacks the charm of other islands, unless rows of identical, down-at-the-heel kalguksu restaurants take your fancy.
On your way to neighbouring Yeongheung Island, be sure to stop at Bul Island (불섬). Just after crossing Seonjae Bridge from Daebu Island to the small intermediary island of Sonjae (선재), you can take a pleasant excursion on foot to this islet at low tide, when a natural causeway is exposed. The spit also extends out past the islet for a kilometer, ending in a lattice of shallow channels draining into the sea.
Jebu Island (제부도) which is part of Hwaseong (화성시, must be approached by a road which impressively submerges at high tide. In many ways, the main beach is a little reminiscent of the famous foreshore further south on Anmyeon Island (안면도). Just to the rear of the main beach is the usual array of raw fish restaurants, and just behind them a further array of minbaks and yogwans, the more modern of them being quite comfortable lodgings. Should you neglect to watch the tide times, you will indeed be there for the night, as the road back to the mainland rapidly slips below the incoming ocean. Back on the mainland, immediately beside the nearby Ansan Maritime Museum (032-886-2913) is a smaller island, Nu-e (누에섬), with a similar submersing causeway. This one, however, is exclusively for the use of pedestrians, and is ideal if you prefer solitude and the company of your own footsteps.,

. . . or by Ferry
The first stop for ferry service is the easily accessed Incheon Coastal Ferry Terminal (032 -888-0116), which is approximately ten minutes by taxi from Incheon

Neungdong Jagal Madang, Deokjeok Island

Stn. (line 1) or alternatively buses 12 or 24 from immediately outside Dong Incheon Stn. (line 1). There is an information service at the terminal (closing in the early afternoon) which can provide limited assistance in English for finding island accommodation.
In addition, access for passengers and vehicles is available to several members of the Jawol and Deokjeok groups from the Daebu Island Terminal (, located by the viaduct on the north part of Taebu Island, in a slower vessel designed to transport cars and light trucks (about W12,000 per person, per trip).

Jawol Island

The Jawol Group
The Jawol group prominently includes Jawol Island (자월도) itself, the delightful pair of So Ijak and Dae Ijak Islands (소이작, Little Ijak and 대이작, Big Ijak), which are separated by only a few hundred meters of intervening ocean, and Seungbong Island (승봉도) just to the east. The standards of accommodation here have greatly improved over the last decade, and along the southern foreshore of both Jawol Island and Seungbong Island, immediately adjacent to the main beach and ferry terminal, are a number of quality minbaks. The islands are all only a few kilometers in area and both the Ijak Islands and Seungbong Island may be almost completely circumnavigated over the course of a day along the foreshore by the adventurous (but beware of tides).
On Dae Ijak, head up the walking path that leads to the summit of one of the island’s major hills for some lovely views on a sunny day with the sunlight glinting off the sparkling waters. The island also features a spectacular offshore sandy spit which becomes visible once the tide goes out and which may be accessed by boats (you can usually arrange rental at your minbak). The privately owned Saseungbong Island (사승봉도) features an even larger version of this phenomenon.

Gureop Island

The Deokjeok Group
The Deokjeok group includes the notable Deokjeok Island (덕적도) itself, home of the enormous Seopori Beach and the quite respectable Batjireum Beach a few kilometers down the road. Both of these are some kilometers distant from the ferry terminal, and it is recommended that visitors take a local bus. Immediately behind Batjireum Beach is the path that leads up to the local peak, Pibong, a superlative point affording magnificent views of Deokjeok and the surrounding islands. To the north of the island is the pretty Neungdong pebble beach.
A further change of ferry (which looks like little more than a converted fishing trawler) is necessary at the Deokjeok pier in order to travel out to the other islands in this group. Fantastic sea stacks jutting majestically out of the waters occasionally dot the route of the ferry as it wends its way over the seas across to the various islands.
Gureop Island (굴업도) is a magical cross of terrain with rocky cliffs at its extremes, featuring small sea caves and pristine sandy shores that intersect in the center of the island, alongside a tiny range of low hills. Accommodation can be found at the homes of local families and may best be described as “rustic.” The sense of wildness here is palpable—but don’t wait too long, as major development is under consideration.
Visit the following sites for more information about the islands discussed here.
• Ongjin-gun (the administrative district of several islands)
• City of Incheon
• Incheon Tourism Organization


That Other Korean Island
In discussing the Islands immediately accessible by sea from Seoul, mention must be made of the largest of these, an island which in fact you may already be quite familiar with. That would be none other than Jeju Island. Chonghaejin Marine operates a twice weekly service to Jeju that departs late in the afternoon and arrives the following morning. Readers would be advised to invest in an actual room and avoid the far cheaper public dormitory. Watch for the spectacular sunset, visible from the deck of the vessel as it passes out of the port of Incheon under the new bridge. 032-889-7800

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