My boyfriend and I always stay in hotels when we travel, but since we had our dog with us this time around we decided to look into some other options. The boyfriend found us a lovely (somewhat secluded) little pension overlooking the ocean. The owners of the pension, who also live on the premises, were very warm and welcoming. Since they had a dog of their own, it was pet friendly and even had a beautiful little fenced backyard. We didn’t really get to fully enjoy it since there was a lot of gardening going on in preparation for the busy month of August, but it was nice to look at. All the guests who stayed there seemed to have brought a little dog of their own, so everyone was pretty understanding about a bit of barking here and there.
I’d have to say one of the best parts of our stay would have to be the complimentary breakfast. Every morning, the ahjumma who owned the pension would prepare homemade abalone porridge (전복죽) with a few side dishes. It was amazing!!! Abalone porridge is one of the dishes Jeju-do is known for. I’ve had it before, but this was better than any restaurant I’ve ever had it at. The adjumma has some serious culinary skills. It was the perfect start to every day.
Much of our second day in Jeju was spent leisurely driving around, which was great for us (not so much for our pup). The island was not as dog friendly as we anticipated, in fact, in the 3 days we spent there we only saw a hand full of local dog owners. Many of the places we stopped by were hit and miss when it came to taking our dog, even if they were outdoors. Donnaeko (돈내코) is known for its beautiful lush forests, hiking trails and Wonang Waterfall (원앙폭포). We were really excited to check it out, but unfortunately they turned us away. Even though we had a proper carrier and leash, the park workers wouldn’t even let us look at the waterfall with a dog. It was a bit baffling, being a public forest and all, but we decided not to waste any time and head to our next destination.
Soesokkak Estuary (쇠소깍)
Soesokkak Estuary is the mouth of the Hyodoncheon stream and where the fresh water meets the ocean. The waters were clear, blue and calm. We were able to let our pup splash around in the cool stream for a bit and cool off our own paws while little fish poked about our feet. The river itself is lined with lava cliffs on either side that have become completely overgrown with pine trees and greenery. Lots of people were there to go kayaking, water biking or take a ride on flat wooden boats called “Teu.” Once you get to the beach, it’s nothing but blue ocean, lava rock and black sands. It’s quite picturesque, but very difficult/uncomfortable to walk on. The river is much more enjoyable.
This particular area is also well known for its tangerines. So, we decided in indulge in whatever snacks we could get our hands on. I’m not one for going to chain restaurants or cafes while on vacation, but the Tom N Toms there had a tangerine mojito and tangerine yogurt smoothie that was only available in Jeju! They were both pretty refreshing, but I think the tangerine mojito was a bit better because the tangerine flavor was stronger. That flavor kind of got drowned out by the yogurt in the smoothie.
We also had some amazing tangerine soft serve ice cream, drizzled in a tangerine syrup and topped with a tangerine chip. It was perfect way to cool off after walking along the beach in the hot sun. The flavor was sweet, a bit tangy and a definite must have if you happen to find yourself in Jeju.
Lastly, we tried some Dol Hareubang bread (돌하르방빵). Dol hareubangs are the phallic statues (often carved out of lava rock) that you will see all over the island. The word roughly translates to “stone grandfather” in the Jeju dialect. While they have a history of being used as fertility statues, they have also become the symbol (mascot) of Jeju Island. These adorable miniature Dol Hareubang shaped breads were the most magical snack I’ve ever had. The outside was crisp and the inside was warm and fluffy. It was filled with a sweet tangy tangerine custard. I’m not even sure how many bags we had will we were there. They were everything.
Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market (서귀포매일올레시장)
After our snack break, we moved on to the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market. To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot going on there for tourists. They mostly sold fresh fish, seaweed, tangerines, side dishes and other things to be bought and taken home to eat. It’s mostly geared towards locals and not much different from local fish markets you would find in other parts of Korea.
We did, however, find a place that makes delicious croquettes filled with Jeju black pork. Even though we were pretty full, they were so good we had to buy 2. The outside was so crispy and the filling inside was so savoury and well seasoned I couldn’t put it down! Then we washed it down with some fresh tangerine juice that came in a super cute Dol Hareubang bottle.
Jungmun Saekdal Beach (중문 색달 해변)
Our last stop of the day was Jungmun Saekdal Beach for a little r&r. It was really beautiful… to look at. The sand was a light tan color with a super fine texture and the ocean was a vibrant mixture of various shades of blue. It wasn’t very crowded either, with was great! For ₩30,000 we got an umbrellaed table with a couple of chairs right by the water, set our stuff and made our way to a more secluded spot on the beach. The water was divided into two parts, half for swimmers and half for surfers. We were introducing our dog to the ocean for the first time, and we weren’t anticipating such strong waves. Unfortunately, we got hit with a strong wave that completely soaked him and peppered him with sand. He gave new meaning to the term “salty sea dog” that day. Needless to say he was just done after that.
Honestly the swimming wasn’t that great for us either. The water was ridiculously sandy and full of seaweed and island debris. When we got back to the car, I felt like I had brought back half of the beach with me in my swim suit. I’m still trying to remove all the grains of sand from my swimsuit. While it was nice to look at and take a few picture of, I personally wouldn’t recommend it. There are much better beaches to check out.
After returning to our pension for some much needed showers (all 3 of us), we felt a bit defeated by our less than “restful” beach day. All we really wanted was to have a nice quiet Jeju black pork dinner together, but it was late and the idea of driving around looking for a place that would accommodate us and our fur baby sounded like a little slice of hell. Fortunately, the amazing adjumma who ran the pension swooped in to save the day, but more on that next time!