For those who want to get away from busy Seoul to a near island, Ganghwado is one of the ideal options. In two hours of drive west of Seoul, you can meet a beautiful beach, an exciting mud flat full of sea creatures, a quiet temple and a historical site of ancient defense facilities.
The fourth-largest island in Korea has only one beach ― Dongmak Beach ― where the waters are quiet and shallow. Although the beach is only 200 meters long, it has a wide area available for swimming so that children can play in the water safely.
Compared with beaches on the East Sea or South Sea, Dongmak Beach’s waters are not that transparent. But it doesn’t mean they are not clean.
Deokjinjin Fortress on Ganghwado (Oh Ju-hwan/KTO)
With the tide out, you can walk about 4 kilometers towards the sea on the mud flat. Fourteen kinds of crabs, such as king crabs and sand crabs, will appear on the mud and you can dig out various kinds of clams just under the mud flat.
If you prefer a forest to a beach, you can check Hamheo Dongcheon valley. The upper valley offers an outdoor camping area with space for 3,000 campers.
You can set your tents near the ticket booth. But if the spot is too crowded, you can climb about 200 meters up the valley and get a quiet rest there.
Jeondeungsa is a temple through which a path via Samnang Fortress can lead to a pine tree forest. Since the path is not covered by concrete, you can feel the softness of the earth and smell the nice pine scent.
Ganghwado has served for centuries as both a getaway and a gatekeeper to Korea.
In the 13th century, the Korean royal court fled to the island fortress, strategically located at the mouth of the Hangang River, as the Mongols swept down upon Korea.
To guard the nation, many fortresses have been built during the Joseon Dynasty.
If you make a right at the Choji Bridge toward southeastern coastal area, you can see Chojijin Fortress, Deokjinjin Fortress and Gwangseongbo Fortress. The three fortresses offer historical information how the Joseon Dynasty dealt with the French invasion in 1866 and the U.S. invasion in 1871.
For more information, call Gwanghwa County’s tourism department at (032) 930-4338.
(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)