Both beautiful and relatively easy to get to, sharing as it does the same island as Incheon International Airport, Eurwangni Beach has about 200 meters of white sand beach, and is a popular summer daytrip destination for Seoulites. This beach doesn’t turn into a mud flat at low tide (see box).
Take Seoul Subway Line 1 to Incheon Station, and then transfer to Bus #306 to the beach.
With over half a century’s worth of history as a summer resort, Daecheon Beach is the best known of the West Sea beaches, with white sand that stretches almost four kilometers. In addition to the white sand and the white pebbles that dot the ocean floor, it is also quite famous for its mud, which is said to possess restorative properties thanks to the infrared rays it emits. The best time to visit Daecheon Beach—or the worst, if boisterous crowds aren’t your thing—is during the Boryeong Mud Festival, held annually in July, when the area becomes one big, and very muddy, beach party.
Taean Coast National Marine Park
The Taean Coast National Marine Park consists of the Taean Peninsula and about 130 islands off its coast, and is blessed with beaches, captivating rock formations, cliffs, mud flats and a rich diversity of flora. A trip to Taean should also include a visit to Cheollipo Arboretum (www.chollipo.org)—founded in 1966 by an expatriate American-turned-Korean national, it is one of Korea’s best botanical gardens.
Buses to Taean depart from Seoul Nambu Terminal. When you reach Taean, take a local bus to Hakampo.
Korea’s sixth largest island, Anmyeon-do—actually part of the Taean Coast National Marine Park (see above)—is conveniently connected to the mainland via a bridge, making its seaside charms all the more accessible. The island has no fewer than 14 beaches, a recreational forest, and plenty of small “pension” houses to which to retire for a few days (book early, though—see the KTO homepage at www.visitkorea.or.kr for more info). It is also famous for its spectacular sunsets, particularly at Kkotji Beach.
Buses to Taean depart from Seoul Nambu Terminal. When you reach Taean, take a bus to Anmyeon-eup.
Not exactly a beach resort, but the historic west coast island of Ganghwa-do, perched strategically at the mouth of the Hangang River, makes for a relaxing—and easy to get to!—summer retreat. Explore the old forts, visit the beautiful Buddhist temple of Jeondeungsa, meditate at the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Center, climb Mt. Manisan, or just enjoy a good meal of broiled eel.
Buses to Ganghwa Island depart from Seoul’s Sinchon Bus Terminal.
West Sea tides & mud flats
The West Sea coast of Korea experiences some of the most dramatic tides on Earth, with the sea rising four to eight meters during high tide. This phenomenon also produces the West Sea’s extensive and spectacular mud flats, which are an important habitat for a diversity of fauna.
For the beach bum, however, what this means is that at low tides, beaches can become mud flats, so be sure to check the time.