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Hiking Geumodo Island | South Korea Travel Story

Hiking Geumodo Island South Korea Travel Story
Written by Carl Hedinger

Hiking Geumodo Island

Some friends, my wife, and I retreated to the inner ferry cabin after a day in this awesome place, doing another awesome thing that an expat can do in coastal Koreahiking Geumodo Island. Tired and exhausted, the day was long gone. The noisy scenes inside hardly fazed us after such a fulfilling day.

Islands seen while hiking on Geumodo Island, South Korea

Smiles and laughter filled the room. Soju bottles filled cups while conversations permeate the cabin. Our first trip to Geumodo last fall comes to mind, thanks to a couple of chance encounters with similarly jolly people. This country is responsible for many of the greatest experiences I’ll ever remember. Another time on this Island also ranks near the top of my best travel moments

Boat and Lighthouse on Geumodo Island, South Korea

While moving to Yeosu in the late summer of 2013, my wife and I studied up on this peninsula-within-the-peninsula. Thanks to the World Expo in 2012, the city gained worldwide exposure. People here have so much exposure to nature and openly boast about the over 300 islands found nearby.

Geumodo Facts

Tiny Bay on Geumodo Island, South Korea

Five main hiking courses form a circuit around Geumodo island and we’d set out to complete as many as possible on this beautiful day. At the end of each trail stands an open area with a water station and sometimes a drink stand or small restaurant offering standard fare.

Korean Kindness at Play

Hiking on Geumodo, South Korea

After completing one, we refill our bottles and prepared to move on when some Koreans call us over to a table at the very small restaurant. They’d been diving in the water nearby and caught some whitefish, which we were more than welcome to try. The fish and complimentary soju boost our spirits for the next path while these kind people’s generosity put genuine smiles on our faces as we continue on.

Green, Beautiful Water on Geumodo Island, South Korea

That memory put a new smile back on my worn face as our boat made its only stop on the way back, at Geumodo’s northern tip. After shuffling outgoing passengers for those making heading back to Yeosu, the boat starts up. More memories float to the surface.

Lunch, Newfound Friends

Lighthouse and Boat on Geumodo Island, South Korea

We’d picked up some kimbap before leaving because the word was out about the island lacking genuine food options. After a few times hiking with nothing but kimbap to eat, it works. It’s cheap and packs a much-needed protein punch when walking around for hours. Along the way, we bump into a friend who’d made a day of the island with his co-teachers from nearby Suncheon.

Friend Walking Rocks on Geumodo Island, South Korea

He takes some long distance photos of us from some of the trail’s most beautiful points. We join his party and walk until lunchtime approached. A nice spot in the shade suits the Koreans and as we pull out our kimbap rolls, our new friends signal to put them away. We’ll be eating theirs because…why else? It’s better. No arguing. Just eat and enjoy. Free food should never be turned away. Not in this country. After eating together, we continue on through some more beautiful spots and enjoy the rest of our walk with this great and friendly company.

Back to the Mainland

Staring Down at Sparkling Water in Geumodo, South Korea

Those feelings of leaving came back, as I stood up and moved out of the cabin. Now port side,  I tried to have a moment’s glance at tiny uninhabited islands. The boat pulled nearer to the mainland terminal and more thoughts came to mind. This time, they were of hopes and declarations for the future. Will I come back to and do some hiking on Geumodo? Hopefully so after our amazing experience with some kind and generous people make we want to go back every day.

Getting to Geumodo Island

Courtesy of Korea Tourism

From Seoul’s Central City Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Yeosu Intercity Bus Terminal. Trains leave from Yongsan Station to Yeosu Expo Station throughout the day. You can book here.

From Yeosu Coastal Ferry Terminal (Shorter Journey, Fewer Boats)
Take Buses 28, 82, 88, 111, or 666 and get off at Jungang Market Bus Stop. (중앙시장)
From there, walk about 180m to Yeosu’s Coastal Ferry Terminal (여수연안여객터미널).
From Yeosu Coastal Ferry Terminal to Geumodo Island (Hamgumi), boats leave three times a day (1 hr 40 min). Schedules change according to season so be sure to ask for about return times before leaving. 

From Dolsan Shingi Terminal 돌산신기항 (Longer Journey, More Boats)
Take Buses 109, 114, or 116 from Yeosu’s Intercity Bus Terminal (2 hours advertised but usually 1-1 1/2 hours)
Advice: If you’ve come with friends, travel via Taxi and pay 25,000 won but save time getting to the terminal. If you’ve come along, take the bus.

Schedules change according to the season so be sure to ask for about return times before leaving. 

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About the author

Carl Hedinger

I’m a writer and recovering American expat who shares my family’s travels through life. Follow our adventures here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • How long is the boat ride to Geumodo? The island looks awesome! I wish I could do more island exploring in Korea, but I get really bad motion sickness and a lot of the islands are pretty far out. It looks like a truly gorgeous place.

      • I love the varieties of nature found on Geumodo. It’s really different from most of the Korea we all know. No apartment buildings there, that’s for sure:)

    • Hey Meagan,

      The boat ride is only about thirty minutes and not a bad one. Getting there is the catch though because you either have to go to Dolsan Shingi Ferry Terminal or Baekyado Ferry Terminal, both of which are quite a ways away from Yeosu’s center. Either one is a bus or expensive taxi away. I’d recommend a taxi or car if you get sick easily. The buses are not for those of us in need of a comfortable ride. Do get down there though. It’s amazing!

  • Beautiful pictures of a beautiful island. I can see why it’s captured your attention and you’ve been there twice. The generosity of locals really enriches the travel experience.

    • Yes, the people usually contribute to my favorite experiences in life. I guess a beautiful place with rude people might be a turn off. Who knows? I haven’t had that happen yet.

  • […] Duke Steward  shared this wonderful story about their time in Geumodo, South Korea. […]

  • Traveling and enjoying beautiful scenery is wonderful, but it’s so much more special when you run into human kindness and generosity along the way. Sounds like a special place. Thanks for sharing all the amazing photos.

  • Just as Tom said…GREAT JOB! Your writing is captivating and tells such a cool story. Thanks for sharing this slice of heaven! We hope to get back and finish the very last trail on this island. We have done trail 1-4, but got a late start so didn’t get to finish the last one. One of these days I hope we can finally get together and hang with you two.

    • Thank you so much Elicia! I still keep up with your stuff have even better thoughts of your work. Maybe we should all unite for a trip to an island sometime. Huh? Huh? Great idea, right?

  • Nice post, I like the fact that since there were a ton of photos you made them a gallery. Nice choice. The trip looked fun, hadn’t heard of the area so may have to go there while in Korea.

    • Thank you so much. Definitely come to the south coast if you get a chance. I’ve yet to really spend time on the East Coast so I’m somewhat biased towards this area.

  • What fabulous pictures and a beautiful introduction to Geumodo and especially enjoyed hearing about the folks going out of their way for you. Gives one faith in human-kind:)

  • I have never heard of Geumodo but you certainly captured its beauty in your photos. Like you, I always get a kick out of joining strangers and try and reciprocate those invitations when I can. Living by the water is a different experience than living inland and it is great to experience both.

    • Thanks Tim. Koreans can be shy at times so this was a welcome change to my daily encounters and lack of contact with the locals. Hopefully more of these good times happen in the future.

  • Thank you for sharing your pictures and memories of Geumodo. I never forget the unexpected kindnesses of welcoming strangers when visiting a new place.

  • Hi Carl, what a nice experience to write about – the generosity of strangers. Things like that do turn into the most precious memories, don’t they. Absolutely love the pictures, amazing scenery.
    Lucky you.

  • Great pictures, as always! It’s really cool when people go out of their way to be kind like that. It seems to happen quite a lot out here, especially while out hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Yet another reason to love Korea!

  • Hey Carl, great introduction to Geumodo and excellent pictures. I had not realized you moved to Korea and were travelling from there. Perhaps I overlooked it in a previous post. There are few things better when travelling than a spontaneous invitation to join complete strangers and share a meal with them. Whether you return or not Im sure you will always have warm feelings about these beautiful islands,

    • Thank you Paul. I truly think this place is one of the most special in the country. Living here can be quite difficult sometimes but islands like Geumodo and the people coming here make the time much easier.