One of the most popular vacation spots in Eastern Asia is Jeju-do from South Korea, also known as the Island of Gods. It’s also the top honeymoon destination among Korean newlyweds. Jeju is South Korea’s largest island and it lies in the Korea Strait (a sea passage between South Korea and Japan), southwest of South Jeolla Province. If you want to get an idea of what the island is like know that is a mixture of volcanic rock, frequent rains and temperate climate, very similar to the Hawaiian Islands in the United States. The island offers a wide range of fun activities to fill your time with whether you’re on a getaway with your friends or on your honeymoon.
Jeju Island is not a popular destination among western tourists and for those in need of a change; this island might be the perfect place. The weather is quite warm during winter as well with temperatures rarely falling below the freezing point. The island is known for containing the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. Jeju Island does not excel only in breath-taking landscapes but also in cultural heritage. Unlike the rest of South Korea and thanks to the relative isolation, the people of Jeju have developed a culture and language that are different from those of the mainland country. The people of Jeju have many legends and mystic beliefs and even the name `the Island of Gods` comes from a legend that tells the story of various demi-gods that lived there and which are considered to be the progenitors of the Jeju people. There are many distinctive places that are considered sacred by the locals.
Another interesting cultural aspect of the island is the matriarchal family structure found especially in Udo and Mara. The best examples are given by the haenyeo (sea women) who were often the head of the families because they controlled the income. Haenyeo are women diving all year long in the cold waters without diving gear in order to harvest abalones, conches and a myriad of other marine products. Even though in the ‘60s the women of Jeju were providing 60% of the island’s fishing revenue, nowadays there are only 4,500 haenyeo, most aged over 60. But even though world is changing and the number of the sea women is decreasing they are still valued and respected by society.
Jeju Island could easily turn into a very thrilling experience thanks to its beautiful long beaches and mountains. Some of the most popular spots on the island are the Cheonjeyeon and Cheonjiyeon waterfalls, Mount Halla and Hyebje cave and Hyeongje Island. Activities are plenty and depending on the season Jeju hosts many festivals for tourists. One of the most famous is the penguin swimming contest in winter or the cherry blossom festival in spring. The annual fire festival is also quite impressive as it stems from a custom of removing harmful insects and old grass in villages every winter.
All in all, this island is quite impressive. There aren’t that many places in the world where you can become one with the nature, relax in a luxury hotel and experience the local culture first hand, all at the same time. Some might say this destination is underestimated but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Not-so-popular destinations make the best holidays.