By LEA KASSA
For my first installment of unlikely-but-completely-worthwhile travel destinations, I had absolutely no idea where to start off, or what area of the world to focus on — in short, I was panicking. Luckily, my boyfriend suggested a mysterious-sounding island off the coast of Korea where he once vacationed, and, after looking into it further, I knew I’d found my first destination: The beautiful Jeju Island (or Jejudo in Korean). The island, Hallasan, spotted with thickets of untouched forest and a giant dormant shield volcano, is as pristine as it is enchanting. It’s no wonder that the island is a popular location for honeymooners and foreigners who come from all over the world to experience life in this mysterious corner of the earth.
When You Should Go:
April and June are the most popular months, but be prepared to see lots of young students on field trips. Summers are hot with the occasional rainy spell, while winters are mild and dry.
Why You Should Go:
Jeju Island was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011, along with the likes of Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The area surrounding Hallasan is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, with unbeatable hiking trails and scenery. There are dark caves created by cooling lava, which serve as a natural reprieve from the humid summer air. Endless fields of bright yellow rapeseed flowers bloom in the spring and peak in early April. Beaches like Jungmun and Hamdoek are main attractions of the island, with clear waters perfect for swimming, surfing and other recreational activities.
These enormous statues, made mostly from basalt, are intimidating and a little bit eerie. They were originally carved in the 1700s in order to scare away intruders, but now serve as barriers against storms.
The island is home to several luxury resorts, complete with state-of-the-art modern architecture, spas and amenities. Many of the best resorts are fairly inexpensive as well.
As one of the more untouched provinces of Korea, the food in Jeju Island is as authentic as it gets. Highlights are the fresh seafood products.
Something to think about before you plan your next vacation. Happy travels!