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.
- Starting Point: Sangdong Port
- Finishing Point: Hadong Port
- Distance: 5 km
- Estimated Walking Time: 1-2 Hours
- Scenery: Coastal, farms.
- Main Sights: Hikers will explore most of Gapa Islet and take in views of its coast and farms. The views of Jeju Island and Mara Islet are also spectacular from Gapado.
- To get to the starting point, take a bus to Daejeong/ Moseulpo from either Jeju City or Seogwipo bus terminals. Walk towards the port for several minutes. (The stops from the cities are in different places. A bus driver should be able to point you in the correct direction if you ask for Gapado.)
- This Olle course is on Gapa Islet, so it is necessary to take the ferry to and from the trail. When we were there, the ferries left every one to two hours and the price for a round trip ticket was roughly 9,000 won. The phone number for information about the ferry is 064-794-5490.
- The ferry ride is around 30 minutes. The last ferry was at 4:30, so make sure to allow time to get back to Jeju.
- The ending point is at Hadong Port. Tickets to and from the islet, however, are for the ferry from Sangdong Port, so it is necessary to cross to the other side of the island for the ferry back.
- When arriving back on Jeju, walk down the main street into Daejeong for around 15 minutes and you will arrive at the small bus terminal. There you can catch a bus back to Jeju City or Seogwipo City.
Olle 10-1 is a unique course. The trip provided us an interesting educational experience; however we learned less about Jeju’s neighboring Gapado and more about how complicated getting to and from small islands can be.
I knew nothing about Gapado previously and it surprised me to learn before we left that it had become carbon-free last year. It took us awhile to get to Moseulpo and to find the port. After purchasing our tickets, we had a 30-minute wait for the ferry to Gapado. We could see the islet from the port, noteworthy for its small size and tall windmills. On the short boat ride over, we looked forward to seeing only electric cars and experiencing the culture of the green island.
As it turned out, we saw very few Gapado locals. Mostly tourists rode on the ferry and we encountered many of them hiking and biking the Olle course. Although disappointed not to see more of the island’s culture, we were very gratified with the course itself.
The scenery was extremely colorful. The first half or so (roughly two kilometers) runs along the coast but within sight of the green fields that make up Gapado. The view of Jeju appears very striking. The path also reveals an excellent view of Marado, the southernmost tip of Korea.
There is a clear view of an oil platform from the west coast though, which surprised us and conflicted with the peaceful and environmentally conscious vibe of the island.
The section away from the coast was also very beautiful. We enjoyed walking through the green fields past the windmills. Although we saw a few farmers, the path and the visible roads were empty and quiet. We wondered about how the citizens had come to settle on Gapa, who had decided it should become “green,” and about the local customs. The Olle guide informed us “you may listen to the history of Gapado through talking to the stones.” As we walked, we joked that the stones couldn’t communicate with us because they couldn’t speak English.
The course loops back past the starting point and, after another coastal stretch, ends at a port on the opposite side of the island. We didn’t mind crossing back again, as the way back was clearly marked with ribbons and arrows. Also, we passed through the village in the island’s center. We saw two or three electric cars, but no people.
We waited comfortably in a building next to the port and the boat ride back was pleasant. When we arrived back on Jeju we saw a bus stop right by the parking lot of the port. We decided to wait there, although the Olle Web site had recommended a different bus stop. A bus was scheduled to come that only made a handful of stops on the way back to Jeju City. Several Korean men waited there as well, which gave us confidence in our decision.
We stood at the stop for over an hour, and long past the time the bus was scheduled to come. When the Korean hikers gave up hope, we followed them as they asked directions to the bus station from locals. We arrived at the station — a one roomed building with a parking lot — and the bus arrived shortly after.
All-in-all, we spent a full day travelling for an hour of hiking. On the way back, we discussed if the trail had been worthwhile, and decided that it certainly had. The quiet beauty of the course, for us, outweighed the inconvenience.