Sandy dreamsWESTERN BEACHES
If you have children, beaches along the West Coast are the right spots to hit. While the East Coast slopes steeply into the ocean, the West Coast is gentler, safer for children to play while their parents busily work on their suntans. Children can also learn a little about Mother Nature, since crabs and shellfish are everywhere when the long, West Coast tides ebb. Last year, the West Coast Expressway opened, making it much easier to go to some previously hidden spots along the Western seashore.
Muchangpo (Wungcheon town, Boryeong county, South Jeolla province)
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, Muchangpo is the one that you're looking for -- sandy beaches and relative quiet. Ten kilometers north of the always bustling Daecheon beach, Muchangpo will seem like a hidden treasure. With its 1.5-kilometers of white, soft sand and clean, clear seawater, Muchangpo is full of surprises. Most notably, this is the home of the "Miracle of Moses," as locals call it. During tidal peaks twice a year, low tide reveals an S-shaped path to Seokdae island. Along the path, you can pick stranded octopi, turbines and small-neck clams. For information, call 041-936-3561.
Chunjangdae (Seo town, Seocheon county, South Chungcheong province)
If you find just hanging out in seawater for hours boring and want to have a ball on the beach, Chunjangdae is it. Sand on the Chunjangdae beach is harder, making it ideal for beach sports.
After you've played a few tough games of beach volleyball, your stomach might need some dainties. How about mat, a kind of clam. Mat is also known as jukhap, or bamboo clams, because they look similar to a bamboo tree. You can also catch clams hiding in the sand. It's unexpectedly easy. First, scoop up a shovelful of sand until you see a hole where the clams lie hidden. Then, throw little salt into the hole and clams just come out. For information, call 041-950-4022.
Gyeokpo (Sangha town, Gochang county, North Jeolla province)
Spacious white sand beaches. Luxurious pine tree forests. Strangely-shaped cliffs. All of these can be found at Gyeokpo beach, on the Byeonsan peninsula, inside Byeonsan National Park. For information, call the Byeonsan town office at 063-582-8031.
Gusipo (Sangha town, Gochang county, North Jeolla province)
Finding a spot that is fun but not a carnival of people takes effort. Gusipo beach is one of those little-known pearls. Limpid seawater is harmonizes with thick pine trees in a scenic combination. For more info, call 063-560-2225.
The stretch of beaches on the East Sea (Sea of Japan) from Sokcho to Ulsan is famous for their clear waters and soft sand. National Road No. 7, which runs parallel to the beaches, boasts the best seaside views in the country. The ripples of the waves and sound of seagulls are the best part of driving through this area.
Hwajinpo (Hyeonnae town, Goseong county, Gangwon province)
This beach is the furthest north of the East Sea beaches, just 30 minutes by car from the Unification Prospect (033-682-0088). Strangely-shaped rocks and bizarre stones are found in this beach surrounded by thick pine trees. The beach is composed of billions, if not trillions, of tiny broken seashells that have accumulated over the eons. The sea is relatively shallow, by east coast standards, optimal for families. For information, call 033-680-3631.
Maengbang (Geundeok town, Samcheok city, Gangwon province)
There are 21 big and small beaches in the Samcheok area. Among them, the largest, and many think the best, is 7 kilometers from Samcheok and has the best road infrastructure. Every Tuesday Maengbang holds a contest to see who can best catch trout by hand, and every Friday, who can catch the best flatfish.
Special events such as performances by military bands and police bands are scheduled for the summer. For info, call 033-570-3603.
Sinnam Maeul (Wondeok town, Samcheok city, Gangwon province)
This beach is one of the most beautiful fishing villages in the country. The 100 meters of sandy beaches are curvy in shape and on the right, one can see a slew of great rocks that look like folding screens.
An old folk tale tells of a virgin who died when she was swept away by tidal waves while gathering seaweed among the rocks about 400 years ago. A shrine has been built to appease her tormented soul, called Haesindang, to the north of the beach. For information, call 033-570-3602.
Gusan (Giseong town, Wuljin county, North Gyeongsang province)
The wide, white sand beach stretches 400 meters. At the back of the beach there is a dense pine wood, and Baekam hot springs is half an hour away. For info, call 033-570-3602.
At the end of last year, a highway linking Daejeon and Jinju opened, making access to the southern shore much easier.
Imrang Beach (Jangan town, Gijang county, Busan)
At the edge of the second-largest city in Korea, it is relatively clean and quiet compared to its better-known counterparts, the famous Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches in eastern Busan.
On this one-kilometer-long beach, tourists can enjoy the cool shade of the pine trees and the fine white sand. For information, call 051-727-0101.
Yeocha Mongdol (Nambu town, Geoje island, South Gyeongsang province)
At Yeocha beach, round stones greet the tourists. The word mongdol means "round stones without edges." This distinctive feature is quite different than most east- and west-coast beaches. A bridge connects the island to the mainland. For information, call 055-639-3253.
Sangju (Sangju town, Namhae county, South Gyeongsang province)
With a shoreline that is about 2 kilometers long, Sangju beach is the biggest beach along the southern coast. Thanks to a slow moving tide, the beach is a good choice for families that have children. For information, call 055-863-3573.
Yulpo (Hoecheon town, Boseong county, South Jeolla province)
Yulpo offers something different from the conventional sandy beach. Mud. Lots and lots of mud. Tourists who've had their fill of the usual sand castle building can come here to hunt for small-neck clams and crabs hidden in the slime, muck and ooze. For more information, call 061-850-5223.
Mansungni (Manheung-dong, Yeosu city, South Jeolla province)
So you think you've seen everything? Wait until you see Mansungni beach -- a black sand beach. Well, almost black, and a decent-sized 6,600 square meters. For more information, call 061-651-9375.
by Sung Si-youn, Kim Sae-joon