Just south of Seoul’s international airport, lies the beautiful but tiny Muuido Island. Its proximity to Seoul makes it a popular destination for tourists and day trippers alike who visit the island to hike up some small mountains, relax at the beach and chow down on some delicious fresh seafood.
From Incheon International Airport you can take Bus 222 on the 3rd floor to get to Jamjinnaru Ferry Terminal, where you will pay 3,000 won for your 3-minute ferry ride to Muuido Island. At the dock, a local bus is waiting to take you to your island destination.
Spending the last weekend of September there was a fantastic idea as the crowds from summer were definitely missing, but the weather was still beautiful and warm enough for the beach. My group (nearly 25 of us) piled into the local bus, but even packed like sardines we couldn’t all fit. A man pulled up in his minivan and for a fee of 1,000 won per person, drove the rest of our group to the beach.
There are two main beaches on Muuido Island, Hanaggae Beach in the south and Silmi Beach further north. Hanaggae Beach is more popular with the tourists and it has about fifty little tin beach huts on the sand, which we found perfect for our group.
The restaurants on Hanaggae serve local delicacies like squid and shellfish, with other Korean staples such as pork BBQ and raw fish available. Waiting for over 30 minutes for our seafood noodle soup to arrive, we realized that we were not in the hustle and bustle of Seoul anymore. The relaxed beach atmosphere took over.
After stuffing our faces full of clams and washing them down with some soju (the Korean version of vodka), we headed off from the beach and back up the main road to the trailhead for Mt. Horyonggoksan and Guksabong Peak. With an elevation of only 246 m (807 ft) it wasn’t long before we reached the peak and had time to relax, eat, and drink some more and take lots of photos on top of the mountain.
From the peak we headed down to Silmi Beach and then to Silmi Island. Silmi Island is a smaller uninhabited island off of Silmi Beach connected by a land bridge. It has an interesting history of being used in 1969 and 1970 as a training ground for special Korean soldiers trained to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim-il Sung.
After sitting for 15 minutes on the not-so-comfortable shell and rock filled beach we headed back to Hanaggae Beach to eat and drink some more by the campfire.
Heading back to Seoul the next day, the autumn winds were all around us. Donning hats and sweaters on the ferry, we said goodbye to our island adventure and to summer. The beautiful season of autumn has arrived in Korea.