Exploring South Korea’s Outlying Islands: Somaemuldo

South Korea has a lot to offer as a travel destination. From the bustling streets of Seoul to the quiet shores of Jeju, there is plenty to see and do in the ROK. While Jeju is Korea’s most famous island and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the peninsula is surrounded by hundreds of other islands which are just as beautiful.

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Starting in the city of Jinju, travelers must take an hours bus ride to the small port city, Tongyeong. Tongyeong is situated on the southern coast and has an extensive local fish market to be explored. I spent some time experiencing the local color here. The people were friendly and explorers can see the real bosses of the fish market; the hardcore ajimas. Ajimas, for those that don’t know, are older Korean ladies who can be seen squatting on street corners selling their produce. From here, you can buy your ticket to the island of Somaemuldo, located in the Hallyeo Haesang National Park.

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The boat ride lasts around an hour, giving tourists a view of some of the smaller islands in the area and a good look at the unique rock formations that can be found jutting out of the ocean. Somaemuldo itself is a small island, but is home to some challenging hiking trails, a small village and a lighthouse that was built by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. There is plenty of beautiful scenery to take in and due to the locals staying close to their homes, explorers get a little time for themselves to see the sights.

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I decided to take the longer trail toward the lighthouse which meant meandering along the ocean front. The lighthouse can be found on a smaller island, only accessible twice a day during low tide. Seeing the mountainous cliffs. the seascape views, and the blue waters made trekking Somaemuldo an enjoyable experience.

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The island reminded me a lot of Hongdo, but it definitely has its own character and appeal. Both islands certainly deserve a visit if you’re living in or backpacking through South Korea. For those closer to Busan and Geoje, Somaemuldo can also be accessed from the Jeogu Port in Geoje.

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