Geumo Island is a fairly large island off of the southern tip of Dolsan in Yeosu, South Korea. Island hopping and exploring the numerous (373) islands claimed by the city is a great way to while away hot summer afternoons with a cool ocean breeze on your face and the lovely Jeonnam coast in front of you. Geumodo is the perfect prospect for a summer weekend with both surf and sand. After enjoying the beach there are also kilometers upon kilometers of hiking trails on one of Korea’s most beautiful coastal treks. A Sunday hike after camping on Saturday is as close to a perfect outdoor itinerary as anyone could hope for.
Yeosu has dozens of islands worth visiting, but Geumodo might just be the most well rounded and stunning option available. With beautiful beaches, secluded camping, and the best coastal trek in South Jeolla Province, this island is a ferry ride away from the perfect summer getaway without having to travel very far. It is best to plan a weekend trip if you are hoping to see both the beach and hike a bit, however, a quick twenty minute ferry means that a short day trip is totally possible.
We chose to camp overnight both times we visited Geumodo as just one day didn’t seem like quite enough for us to truly take in all the sites. The most notable is the five-part Bireong-gil trail which is unequivocally the most beautiful trek we’ve experienced. This rolling trail perfectly balances time spent in the trees and time with stunning views of the island’s pronounced coast. With a total distance of 18.5 kilometers, this is quite a long trail, but ambitious hikers can absolutely complete it in a single day.
Our hike was a short 5k starting at the beginning of Course 1 and hiking to the marker of Course 2. Starting at Hamgumi Ferry Terminal, Course 1 is a lovely trail through beautiful terrain and is considered to be the most beautiful of the five courses because of its towering cliffs and viewpoints. Regardless of how far you hike this trail, you’d be hard pressed not to be blown away by its natural beauty. The short 3 hour trek was perfect for our time table before getting back to the ferry terminal.
Geumodo Makgeolli and Pajeon
Korean summers can get really hot, so for those wanting to hike a portion of the total course, there are ample opportunities to rest in large shaded areas along Course 1. There are even a couple of restaurants that overlook areas with amazing vistas, so you can take a much needed break and mix a bit of light outdoor activity with coffee, soup, pajeon, or some local makgeolli! The islands off Yesou are well known for home brewing their own makgeolli, so we couldn’t pass up a chance to try some of Geumodo’s.
Where to Stay
One of the most popular beaches on Geumodo Island is Ando Beach and you can camp there overnight. Well reputed among campers, this beach has a small mart, shower, and restroom facilities to ensure that anyone visiting for the beach or for camping has everything they need. Winding down the awesome roads of Geumodo to find this beach hidden away will take you around thirty minutes by car, but the drive is lovely and winds through small island towns and down coastal stretches.
There is a large shelf above the beach that can accommodate dozens of tents, though we’ve never had more than two neighbors on our visits. Further from the facilities, campers can find trees to provide shade and allow for hammocks to be tied up. In the afternoon, fortunately, this east-facing beach becomes heavily shaded from the nearby mountain which will cool you down immensely from the summer heat.
If weather turns bad, look to one of the “minbak” houses available in the nearby towns. Theses places are simply someone’s own home that they are nice enough to rent out a spot on their living room floor or spare bedroom to weary travelers, but hey, beggars ca’t be choosers! Plus, you will likely be able to enjoy some home cooked meal while you are staying with them.
How to Get There
Yeosu Ferry Terminal
Located near the west market in Yeosu, this is the largest ferry terminal in town. You can easily get a ferry every one from this point and if you happened to show up and missed a boat, there is plenty to see and do in the area while you wait for the next one. The ferry to Geumodo takes around an hour from this terminal.
Singi Ferry Terminal
The Singi terminal is located on the southern tip of Dolsan island and can take you forty minutes to drive there by car. The ferries come much more regularly and you can get one every thirty minutes from here. Geumodo is a short twenty minute ferry ride away from this terminal which cuts down even more on travel time.
Yeosu Citizen Discount
If you are a Yeosu citizen and your alien registration card has your local address printed on the back, you can qualify for the discount. You get fifty percent off all ferry tickets to all of the islands making traveling around island hopping much cheaper!
Transportation on the Island
Geumodo may be an island, but there is still transportation. At the Geumodo terminal, you can find some taxi driver phone numbers, or try your luck using the Kakao Taxi app. There are a couple of buses as well, but the wait time between buses can be long. If all else fails, you can always try bumming a ride with one of the friendly Koreans who brought their car or bus!
To see more of Geumodo Island, be sure to check out our video here where we explored Ando Beach a couple of years back.