Geumodo: Wait, Did You Say Hiking?

Geumodo (금오도) was stop number two of mine and Dana’s trip to the south coast for Lunar New Year. After enjoying the natural beauty of Suncheon Bay, and later stuffing our faces with some rather good dalkgalbi, Dana and I boarded a bus heading to Yeosu, where we planned to stay the night before taking a ferry to Geumodo in the morning.


If you remember my post about my resolution to Korea and myself, I lamented the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get to any of the Korean islands. However, I should’ve done a little bit of research – it’s really not that hard to get to one of the islands in a weekend. After looking at a map and looking up ferries in Korea, it became clear that a day trip from Yeosu was completely doable. Hooray!


Geumodo bireonggil map 금오도 비렁길 지도

Wait, it’s a map!…of Geumodo’s bireonggil trail.


Dana and I took a ferry at Yeosu ferry terminal, bound for the port of Hamgumi (함구미) on Geumodo. It was the day of Lunar New Year itself, and there were a lot of families on the ferry going to visit relatives on the islands. However, most of them disembarked at Gaedo (개도), leaving Dana, myself, about five men and the crew to complete the rest of the journey on our boat to Geumodo.


Geumodo ferry

The inside of the ferry to Geumodo. No seats inside, only outside!


Pulling into Hamgumi port, after a journey of about ninety minutes, it was clear that we were way off-the-beaten path. A few residents lay in wait to great the men getting off the boat, and Dana and I headed off in search of Geumodo’s Bireonggil (비렁길), a series of hiking trails around the island’s coastline and cliffs that start in Hamgumi, and continue on to the island of Ando (안도), which is connected to Geumodo by a bridge.


Geumodo 미역널바위

The first stop on the bireonggil map that we came to, 미역널바위, which I *think* translates as something like Seaweed Rock.


Dana and I were pretty much alone for the entire duration of our hike. There was a man pumping out some old-school Korean music, singing to them and swigging some makgeolli who was a few steps in front of us for a portion of the journey, but he sat down to chill (I assume to continue on his mini-rave) and we never saw him after that. We walked 12km, on courses 1 and 2, from Hamgumi, to Dupo (두포) and Jikpo (직포) , before getting off the trail and walking down a road that cut across the island, in order to get on a ferry at the Uhangni(우학리) terminal, situated in Nammyeon (남면) village, to take us back from Geumodo to Yeosu.


Geumodo bireonggil 금오도 비렁길

Keep your eyes peeled on Geumodo for these signs – they let you know you’re going in the right direction.


Geumodo cliff view

Is it just me, or does ‘The Falling’ totally sound like some kind of detestable hipster-indie band?


Geumodo water

A turtle rock dispensing Geumodo’s famously pure water.


When we walked through the small villages (for they cannot be called towns), we were greeted by smiling locals and, “annyeonghaseyo” (안녕하세요, hello in Korean) said in chipper tones. Everything was completely shut down for the Lunar New Year holiday, so Dana and I were pretty relieved that we’d stocked up on food before heading to the island – sandwiches for him, blueberry ice cream Oreos for me. Even the ferry terminal in Nammyeon was unmanned until about twenty minutes before the ferry was due to depart.


Blueberry ice cream oreos

In case you doubted the existence of blueberry ice cream Oreos.


At this point, you might be a little confused. Are you really reading my blog? I mean, I’m writing about, you know, walking and nature. Don’t ask me what on earth possessed me to do a 12km hike. Along cliffs, no less. But not the totally scary kind of cliffs that play on my phobia of heights – there were trees to shield my view of the occasional death-drops below. I’m not exactly the active kind, and my friend Michael was bemused enough to ask me on Facebook, “what’s with all this getting back to nature stuff?!”



Look, nature! No, my blog hasn’t been hacked by tree-hugging hippies…


Geumodo island village Korea

…although restraining from writing an inappropriate sentence containing the words, “woman” and “fish” might leave you wondering.


Geumodo Nammyeon ferry

The ferry terminal at Nammyeon / Uhangni. This was the whole terminal.


I think the reason is that my time in Korea is slipping like sand through my fingers, and I am going to dearly miss this country when it comes time to say goodbye to it (well, until 2014) at Incheon Airport in the first weekend of March. Geumodo was a completely new experience, and it opened my eyes even wider to the fact that there’s a lot more to Korea than identikit cities and superficiality. Adventure is there, wherever you are – you just need to look for it, and hopefully you’ll come up trumps like I did with Geumodo.


Cow on Geumodo

After you find your new adventure, hopefully you’ll feel as content as this cow.


So there you have it, folks! Now, I want to hear from you! Does Geumodo seem like the kind of place you’d enjoy? What’s your favourite Korean island, or island anywhere in the world? Are you confused as I am about the fact that I actually enjoyed my time hiking on Geumodo? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.

20 Responses to Geumodo: Wait, Did You Say Hiking?

  1. Lauren says:

    I am SO proud of you! We can become hiking buddies and make all of the serious hikers frown when we choose to keep our energy levels up with blocks of cheese.

    And we will always be aware of The Falling. You can take the side closest to the edge.
    Lauren just posted Month 19: Travel Summary and StatisticsMy Profile

  2. ChinaMatt says:

    That looks really cool. How do you think it’d be in the summer? I might make it to Korea in June/July.
    ChinaMatt just posted Respectable ClownsMy Profile

    • The only thing I’d say in summer is, check the weather – I wouldn’t go there if the forecast is talking about rain during or right before a visit. Some of those paths were fairly thin and I can imagine them getting pretty slippery which isn’t great as they’re, y’know, along the side of cliffs. Up until mid-June should be fine, unless the rainy season comes early. July…probably not, and literally the only thing to do on the island is hike. It’s not like you could say, “oh well, I can’t hike so I’ll do something else.”

      So to sum up that rambling reply…check the weather! :)

  3. Scarlett says:

    I’m so impressed, Tom! Get on you! Also… I need blueberry oreos in my life xx
    Scarlett just posted Sloth Obsessed…My Profile

    • I’ve only ever seen them available to buy in coastal areas of Korea…maybe they’re not meant for landlubbers, or to be consumed inland? I’m scared to try out that theory actually…death by Oreos?

  4. Hogga says:

    The Falling also sounds like a crappy horror movie
    Hogga just posted Folk on the Rocks, Yellowknife: Music FestivalMy Profile

  5. emilyemcgee says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize how quickly your RTW trip was coming up. Nothing like a good deadline to get your butt in gear for hiking. I’m totally impressed that you did 12 km, and I love the one (why only one?) scenic pic of your hike.

    Also, blueberry ice cream Oreos? Is this a delight that can only be found in Korea? I love Oreos!
    emilyemcgee just posted Hobbies for Small SpacesMy Profile

  6. Karla says:

    What an awesome hike dear!

    That must have been quite a workout wasn’t it?

    The views are spectacular. Too bad I didn’t get the chance to visit while I was there :( next time!

    Totally jealous of the Oreo ice cream, want some!

    Enjoy your last days in Korea. TTYS xoxo K.
    Karla just posted My top 3 travel regretsMy Profile

    • It was actually more of a workout at the beginning – Dana and I weren’t used to walking uphill so much haha! If you do come to Korea again, you need to go to the south coast. So pretty, such friendly people, and all these islands to explore!

  7. Andrea says:

    The only island in Korea I ever made it to was Jeju, and I went there with my parents who don’t like to hike much :) Can’t say I was too sad about that, although this hike does look nice! I always wish I was the kind of person who actually enjoyed hiking in reality, and not just in theory….

    • Oh I still wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of hiking – my friend Dana likes to hike, and he told me it wasn’t a “real hike”, which apparently involves mountains and the like. I’m happy with these kinds of hikes instead.

  8. Pingback: Off the Beaten Path in South Korea | The HostelBookers Blog

  9. This was such a fun read, I laughed out loud at the old man “continuing his mini-rave” haha! Thanks for sharing you experiences, and the beautiful pictures!
    Annie@GreenGlobalTravel just posted INTERVIEW: Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club Celebrates Cuban CultureMy Profile

  10. Pingback: The Places That Surprised Me In 2013 - Waegook Tom

  11. Lissa says:

    Thanks for posting about Geumodo. I just got back from Yeosu. We had a fun hike walking around Hahwado, a smaller island near Geumodo. We had such a great time that I am looking for another expedition on a southern Korean island. We finished the spectacular loop around Hahwado and like everyone else, sat down to wait for the ferry by drinking beers and the best makgeolli ever! made in Geumodo! Hopefully your hiking friend was drinking the same stuff. I would like to stay overnight on Geumodo. Do you think that is possible?

    • I’m glad you enjoyed your time there, Lissa! I’m unsure about accommodation on Geumodo. I’m sure there must be *something*. Dana and I took the ferry back to Yeosu after walking around, so we didn’t check out any of the accommodation, especially as it was during the holidays and everything seemed to be closed down then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge