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 Korea—hiking Geumodo Island. Tired and exhausted, the day was long gone. The noisy scenes inside hardly fazed us after such a fulfilling day.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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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