Just one look at Bijindo Island leaves most people wondering, wait, is this actually Korea?! The answer is yes. Yes it is. Those blue crystal clear waters and white sand beaches are more reminiscent of islands in Thailand than South Korea. With just a short forty minute ferry ride away from the mainland, it is easy to see why Bijindo Island is a favorite summer getaway amongst many of the foreigners living in the southern provinces. The island, it is said, is shaped like a bikini top with two large mountains flanking a thin strip of white sand with the ocean on either side. It is part of the Hallyeohaesang National Park, one of the three marine national parks in Korea. As soon as we set eyes on this iconic stretch of sand and cyan blue water, we knew a trip to this island was a must for our summer vacation.
As most English sites giving information about this island seem to be somewhat lacking, we decided to put together a guide which organizes everything you need to know about traveling to Bijindo in one place. If there are any other questions or things we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments below and we will do our best to answer them!
Bijindo Island Guide
Our group on the 9am ferry to the island!
The ferry to Bijindo from Tongyeong takes around 40 minutes one way. You should buy a round-trip ticket at the terminal in Tongyeong and don’t forget to buy them in advance during peak season as tickets tend to sell out quickly during the summer months. Be sure to arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30-40 minutes before departure as you will need to give detailed information before boarding the boat. Regulations at terminals across the nation have tightened since the Sewol Ferry accident, so you will need to provide a cell phone number as well as a photo ID. Your ARC card (for foreigners living in Korea) or your passport will work.
According to THIS SITE (ONLY accessible on Internet Explorer Browser. OH KOREA)
Accurate as of September 7, 2016
Camping done right. He looks like such a pro.
Camping is permitted on Bijindo, but not near the water on the beach. Set your tent up in the tree line directly behind the beach or near the wall on the sand. Though we have never camped on the island, friends of ours have done so for free. This is not to say they won’t charge in the future. Most camping locations in Korea charge between 5,000-15,000 won, so just come prepared!
Fires are NOT ALLOWED on the island. We have seen photos where people have seemingly gotten away with it, but most people have told us that they have been told they cannot have a fire. There are patrol women on the beach who will even go as far as to take away your wood, so just don’t do it. This island is a part of the Hallyeohaesang National Park and so there are strict regulations in regards to protecting the island.
We have no pictures of pensions as we did not stay in one, so enjoy this pic of the beach instead!
Camping not your thing? No worries! There are plenty of really nice pensions on the island and below is a list of available pensions for you to click through! Most places have rooms for 2-8 people, but keep in mind that the season and day of the week fluctuates the prices. Expect around 60,000 – 80,000 won for a two person room and upwards of 120,000 – 300,000 won for an eight person room.
Phone numbers are provided on the websites, so call and see if they can speak English or have a Korean friend help you. Don’t forget that Korean pensions only accept bank transfers as payment!
There is a pajeon hut next to the ferry terminal on the island as well!
There is food available on the island, but not much of it. The local marts are tiny and the prices are absurd. We paid 3,000 won for a TINY bag of chips. We managed to score some ramen for around 3,000 won as well as some rice, kimchi, and beer to go with it at the Sol Beach Pension. The pension is located up the hill directly behind the beach and right next to the trees where you camp. There are other food options available, but think double to triple normal prices. We’re talking 25,000 won for a small dish of Jeyuk. Our suggestion? Bring some things to snack on to cut down on costs!
Do not be fooled. This is a pic taken by our drone while we sat under umbrellas on the beach!
There are two hiking courses on the island that go to the top of Seonyu Peak. One course leads you along the coastline and gives great views out over the water. You can reach the top in around 2 hours. The second course takes you straight up stairs to the top and you can get there in around an hour of hiking. From the top, there is a platform where you can look out over the island and see why the island is called Bikini Island.
Check out our blogger friend, Tom, for a more detailed guide to hiking the island.
Pete and Sanha on the inflatable… pink… lips.
Though the beach looks to be double sided in most photos, only one side of the beach is good for swimming. The other side is covered in rocks, so don’t be fooled by all those bikini island pictures and go thinking you will be able to frolick all over the beach! That being said, the sand is beautiful and the water is very clear. In the summertime, there are lifeguards as well as inner tubes and umbrellas for rent (10,000 won each and WORTH IT). Again, you cannot set up tents by the water as it obscures the view for the lifeguards on duty. Set up tents near the wall at the top of the beach.
Ryan wants me to tell you that he is not using the ocean as a “facility” in this pic
Besides the pensions and marts available, there are also bathrooms and shower facilities. The bathrooms are free, and open year round. In the summer, the shower will be open and you can pay 2,000 won for a shower. There is a man who sits out front who you will have to pay to enter. Don’t forget to give him some extra money (500 won) for packages of shampoo and soap! The showers are separated by gender, but there aren’t individual stalls to use. Hello!? This is Korea! Expect nudity.
Our time spent on this pristine beach was nothing short of amazing. Even though temperatures reached a record high that day for the summer, the water offered a welcome relief from the heat. Bijindo was one of the most secluded and beautiful islands we have yet to visit in Korea and we wish we would have scheduled a bit more time than just the one day we had.
What is your favorite Korean summer getaway location? Let us know in the comments below as we are always looking for new places to visit!