Jeju Olle Ganse Pony Doll. Photo by Doug MacDonald

Jeju Olle Ganse Pony Doll. Photo by Doug MacDonald

Jeju Olle is a series of walking courses that together trail around Jeju and nearby islands. As of January 2013 there are 26 paths. The icon of a Jeju pony, “Ganse” in Korean, acts as a guide along with blue and orange ribbons that help travelers find their way. My name is Alissa Dolan and my husband Andrew and I are attempting to walk all of the paths during our time on Jeju Island. There aren’t words to express the refreshing beauty of the Olle trails, but you are welcome to join me as I try to describe each course. 

Basics

Starting Point: Wolpyeong Village

Finishing Point: Daepyeong Pogu (port)

Distance: 15.2 km

Estimated Walking Time: 5 Hours

Scenery: Coastal, Oreum

Main Sights: Yakcheonsa (Temple), Jusangjeolli (Jungmun Daepo Columnar-Jointed Lava),  Jungmun Beach, Haebyeongdae-gil (The Marine Corps Trail)

Special Notes

  • To get to the starting point from Jeju City, take the Airport Limousine Bus (600) to Yakcheonsa. Backtracking along the course to the beginning of the trail only takes around 10 minutes.
  • From the endpoint, walk uphill around 500 meters to the village bus stop, where it is possible to get a bus back to Seogwipo. (From there, you can go to the bus terminal and catch an inter-city bus back to Jeju City.)
  • At Yakcheonsa, there are two different paths you can take, one through the temple and one around it. Follow the ribbons carefully in order to avoid circling around the two trails.
  • At Baerinnae Oreum, there are also two options. You can climb the oreum or continue past it. The climb up the hill is less than two kilometers.
  • There is a detour avoiding the Marine Corps Trail on the coast due to rough terrain and possible rock slides. The detour runs up to the Tourist Information Center.

Our Journey

This course reminded us that Jeju is a tourist island. Living and teaching in Shin Jeju we sometimes forget that the island is more than just a home — it is also a destination for honeymooners and tour groups from the mainland as well as many other Asian countries. Jeju Olle 8 is an excellent choice for visitors as it passes many popular tourist locations and also shows off the island’s scenic southern coast.

Less than a kilometer from the quiet starting point, this route passes Yakcheon Temple, which is made up of many traditionally styled buildings and large grounds. The trail splits with two options and we accidentally hiked both, circling around the area twice. Large tour buses waited in the parking lot for the tourists who were snapping pictures in front of the gorgeous temple and in the gardens.

Soon after, we arrived at Jusangjeolli, a coastal area famous for unusual rock formations. The Olle course runs along a short stone fence which we hopped over and walked down the stairs to get a closer look at the view. Crowds of Chinese and Korean tourists pressed against the railing to take pictures of the rocks. Upon exiting the park, we realized that the stone fence was actually intended to prevent people from entering the tourist area without paying.

This highlight was then followed by a series of well-maintained parks. We passed many tourists and locals enjoying Jeju’s natural beauty and the unique cleanliness of its public areas.

As we walked towards Jungmun, the number of large hotels along the coast increased. We were very surprised to encounter live penguins and seals outside of Pacific Land, a large aquarium near Jungmun beach.

The beach was mostly deserted, similar to other Jeju beaches during the winter. There were families, however, sitting in the elite “Lotte Hotel Private Lounge” at the edge of the beach. Olle wound away from this section of the walkway and onto the sand.

At the detour, we decided to risk it and take the Marine Corps Path. Almost instantly, the large resorts seemed very far away. Jeju’s famous yellow flowers grew at the bottom of the high cliff near to where we hiked. The path was almost non-existent as we clambered over large rocks. The lady divers and fisherman smiled at us as we passed. We noticed that there were several small cave openings in the cliff. We walked through one that went through the rocks and came out on the other side. Although our feet hurt after traversing this section, we witnessed no danger and were pleased with our choice as we rejoined the main course.

The path then proceeds along a coastal road leading up to Mt. Gunsan in Daepyeong Village. It ended as quietly as it started, with almost no trace of ritzy hotels or crowded tourist destinations.

Further Information

Map (Wolpyeong – Daepyeong)

Olle 8 from the official Web site

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