Author’s note: this is the second in a series of four posts on a recent trip to Jeju. Head back for part one if you missed it.
Welcome to Cow Island – yes, Udo does sort of resemble a sitting cow from above. Thus, the name fits, if such a thing matters much. While Jeju features enough places to keep most travelers busy for a week, the tiny 5.9 sq km Island requires a mere half-day. Good thing, too – despite the minbak (family-run hotel) and pensions around, it’s easy to tell apart the locals from the tourists.
Some people enjoy island hopping, despite putting up with ferry schedules and more junk food (or soju) than legally allowed. That said, a trip to Jeju is nicely supplemented by a side trip to Udo; it’s even more exotic feeling than Ulleungdo, though not as remote.
The self-guided, if standard, half-day tour requires a scooter or ATV, easily rented from several places near the ferry’s port. An international drivers license isn’t required, but in the interest of safety, it’s best to pick something you’re comfortable with. Golf carts are available for the larger groups (up to 4 per cart) or the more timid. Once you have wheels, the coastal road extends both ways around the island. While whizzing around the island, take in the houses and fields featuring the black rocks stacked together in fence fashion.
Going with a tour group means there are dozens of others racing around the roads; going on your own, however, will give the words ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’ entirely new meanings. The wind and waves crash into the black volcanic rocks as they always have, oblivious to the electric cars and gas-powered vehicles.
One of several lighthouses on the island. Not pictured nearby is a decent Korean restaurant and some outdoor seating on nice days.
If you’ve bought the two-island tour you may as well get the third for free! Biyang-do (비양도) is connected to Udo via bridge, and makes Jeju-do looks huge. While there’s only a couple things worth seeing on the island, they’re worth the time and relatively small detour. The main road terminates nearby the island’s main interest – the black-and-yellow lighthouse.
The piles of volcanic rocks beckon the traveler to leave the wheels behind and walk towards the lighthouse. Walk the 300 meter concrete pier and enjoy the black pebble beach – but try to ignore the flotsam across the rocks. Getting to the top requires a fairly decent ladder climb, but the view is wonderful:
Ignore the trash and appreciate the relative isolation from seemingly everyone and everything. The smartphone still works, of course, but it really does feel like you’re light years from everyone.
Beyond the lighthouse, a stone lookout platform is (nearly) the tallest building on the tiny island, It would be easy to zoom by, especially on a limited schedule and with plenty of natural beauties around.
After a few hours of exploring, it was time for the ferry ride back to Jeju-do. Stay tuned for parts three and four – yes, I saved the best for last.