Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Disneyland, paradise… Jejudo has been compared to all four, and each is at least partly true. The volcanic island features swaying palm trees, cactus plants, orange orchards, circus shows, casinos, a dozen sandy beaches, 14 golf courses, scuba diving and much more. Jejudo is Korea’s holiday and honeymoon island, where even bank tellers sport colourful, open-necked aloha shirts.
Most spectacular though are the volcanic landscapes. South Korea’s highest mountain, Hal-lasan (1950m), is a special national park with varied ecological zones, cute little roe deer and wonderful azalea blooms in May. Out east is an awesome volcanic crater, Ilchulbong, while Udo island has dramatic, black-lava cliffs and a glaringly white coral-sand beach. Along the southeast coast are incredibly eroded and pockmarked cliffs at Yongmeori and a sheer-sided rock, Sanbangsan, which is a spiritual mountain with a grotto temple and water with healing powers. Then there’s the world’s longest lava tube at Manjanggul, folk villages, museums, sculpture parks and Asian-style gardens – masses to see and do. The sea temperature is the warmest in Korea and the coral near Seogwipo is as colourful as in the tropics.
Festivals and events include marathons, triathlons and iron-man contests, and outdoor concerts and movies are held on the fun-filled beaches in summer. Stay in world-class resorts, smart new motels or classy minbak. Dine on barbecued pheasant and grilled okdom,a local fish that used to be reserved for Joseon monarchs.