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sandbar at hamdeok beach

Hamdeok Beach on Jeju Island truly surprised me with its turquoise seas and tropical vibes. It even kind of went a little way towards convincing me about the whole “Jeju is the Hawaii of Korea” claim.

With calm water, a super long tide and tons of amenities, Hamdeok Beach turned out to be the perfect place to try solo traveling with my toddler. However, travelers without children would also be VERY happy there. It’s simply one of the best beaches to be found on Jeju Island.

hamdeok beach on jeju island

Hamdeok Beach might convince you that Jeju is actually the “Hawaii of Korea”

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Why we chose Hamdeok Beach (함덕 서우봉해변)

Since it was our first solo mommy-daughter trip, we chose to make it as stress-free as possible, by picking a single location and sticking with it.

We chose Hamdeok Beach because it’s known as a great place for traveling with a baby in Korea. It has excellent amenities, beachfront hotels, and cafes, restaurants and various activities nearby. The 3 beaches of Hamdeok are shielded by Seoubong Peak, which is a BIG bonus. Jeju is notorious for strong winds, but because of the mountain’s protection, the water here is super calm. And that’s always a good thing when little kids are around.

We survived our first solo mommy-daughter trip!

For us, Hamdeok Beach turned out to be the perfect toddler-friendly place to stay, with soft sand, tidal pools to cool off in, and small sea life for wee ones to discover.

Things to do in Hamdeok Beach

You could happily spend all your time on Jeju just bobbing around in crystal clear seas, but it you need a change, here are some other worthy things to do in Hamdeok Beach.

Admire the disappearing sandbar

The disappearing sandbar is a totally unique feature of Hamdeok Beach. It vanishes at night and magically reappears every morning. And it’s absolutely massive. You can park yourself on that incredible sandbar in the middle of the sea and spend practically the whole day there, before it gets covered by water again in the evening.

sandbar at hamdeok beach

The disappearing sandbar is a unique feature of Hamdeok Beach

The sandbar is technically not part of Hamdeok’s 3 beaches per se, but at low tide, it’s totally possible to walk all the way over to one of the real beaches if you desire.

The tide was SO long, and the sand so clean and soft, that I could let my 22 month old, wander away for quite a distance exploring, before I had to go chasing after her. Best of all, the tide stayed out until long after we (and our little ones) were ready to call it a day.

See and Be Seen at Cafe Delmoondo

Without a doubt, the place to see and be seen at Hamdeok Beach is Cafe Delmoondo. With good reason. It’s eminently instagram-worthy with several different patios from which to take in incredible views of crystalline blue seas, while munching on baked goods and sipping on iced coffee.

cafe delmoondo hamdeok beach jeju island

The view from Cafe Delmoondo is spectacular

They’re also one of the few (maybe only) places on Hamdeok Beach that has couple cabanas, and real sun beds available for rent. They start at 10,000 won per hour per person, and it’s something I’ll definitely be looking into next time I’m there.

Stroll across a volcanic rock bridge

Head past Cafe Delmoondo and you’ll find a volcanic rock bridge to cross. It’s connected to a small island that you can explore.

Visit at sunset for an alternative view of Hamdeok Beach, and some fantastic light for pictures. Kids will love climbing on big boulders by the sea and throwing the little black rocks that litter the ground into the water.

Bubbles and black volcanic rocks. Photo by: Hallie Bradley

Try some water sports

It’s possible to try a number of different water sports at Hamdeok Beach. You can rent motorboats, try waterskiing, ride a banana boat, or go sea-fishing. You’ll find various service providers all around the beach.

Check out the mosaic tiled break wall

There’s a long break wall next to the sea that’s covered in a mosaic of colourful tiles. You can walk next to, or on top of it. Just be warned that it’s very hot, with little shade, so be sure to have a hat or some other form of sun protection.

She’s pooped after a full day at the beach

Where to Stay at Hamdeok Beach

We stayed at what used to be called the Co-op City Hotel Jeju Beach, in a double room with partial sea view, balcony, wifi, unlimited draft beer at happy hour and breakfast included. I was super happy with the view, the comfortable bed, amount of space and cleanliness of the room.

The hotel has now been renamed Jeju Beach Hamdeok Hotel. I used Booking.com to reserve it originally, but you can now book it directly here.

There are beachfront hotels lining Hamdeok Beach

If you’re traveling to Jeju with kids, I’d recommend booking something that’s walking distance to the sea. It’s really hot and humid in Jeju during summer and you want to be as close to all the amenities as possible… especially if you’ve got toddlers hanging off of you.

If you plan to travel during high season, or on weekends in the summer, reserve your hotel as early as possible for the best selection and rates.

The following highly-rated hotels, pensions and resorts are all across the street from Hamdeok Beach.

  • Utop Ubless Hotel Jeju: This is one of the most booked hotels near Hamdeok Beach, with AC, wifi and free parking. It’s just 400 metres away.
  • Badaya Pension: you can enjoy sea views from this holiday home, 500 metres away from the beach. A great affordable stay for a small group of people.
  • Poem House is literally minutes from the beach, and near restaurants, cafes and any other amenities you might require.
  • Jeju Jukwang Resort is a well priced resort a little further away from Hamdeok Beach, but not by much. It’s still beachfront, quiet, and has an outdoor swimming pool!

The tide at Hamdeok Beach is super long, so kids can wander a long way safely

Visiting Jeju with Kids

If you live in Korea, Jeju Island is a great place to take a trip with your kids. I headed down with Hallie from the Soul of Seoul blog, and her daughter Ava and it turned out to be the perfect choice. Here’s why.

The Seoul to Jeju flight is less than an hour long, so it’s a safe and manageable distance to travel with children. It’s a domestic flight with many different times and options, so you’ll be able to find something that suits your family easily.

The flight from Seoul to Jeju is quick and easy

If you’re traveling to Jeju with younger kids, I recommend picking one place on the island and sticking with it, unless you’re staying for longer than 3 or 4 days. If you have more time, you could pick a couple locations on the Island to check out.

I say this because Jeju is quite large, and traveling from point to point can take a really long time. It’s better to choose a home base and explore the immediate area, rather than gallivanting all over the island.

Flying to Jeju Island

We flew to Jeju during PEAK season – the 2 weeks when all of the hagwons (after-school classes) are closed for vacation during summer. Our round-trip flight from Seoul cost 150,000 won each. If you can travel at other times, especially mid-week, you’re likely to find things a lot cheaper, and less busy than we did.

PRO TIP

If you want to make it REALLY easy on yourself, consider booking an all in one AirTel package that includes flights, a 1-4 night hotel stay and breakfast.


Click here to reserve a Jeju AirTel package

Naia, because she was under 2 at the time, was totally free. Keep in mind that kids over 2 have to pay full fare… at least on T’Way Air.

Finding Seoul to Jeju Flights

Most of Korea’s national and low-cost carriers ply the route between Seoul and Jeju Island. In fact, the air route between Seoul and Jeju is the world’s busiest!

PRO TIP: When you’re looking for flights from Seoul to Jeju, be sure to search from GIMPO airport and NOT Incheon.

Low-cost airlines that fly to Jeju include: Jeju Air, Jin Air, Air Busan, Eastar Jet, and T’Way Air. However, don’t be shy about also checking Korean Air and Asiana Air for flights if you’d like a little more comfort. Often, these fares are not much more than what you’d pay on a discount airline.

Getting around Jeju Island

If you’re traveling to Jeju with kids, you should know that public transport on the Island is not what it is in Seoul. Journeys are long, buses come few and far between and subways and trains are non-existent.

A car is super useful when traveling to Jeju with kids

Unless you plan to stick around Jeju City, or book yourself onto a bunch of tours, renting a car is absolutely the BEST option for just about everyone. It really isn’t easy to get around Jeju Island. This is what I did on my second trip to Jeju with Naia, and it made getting around super easy and convenient.

PRO TIP

You MUST have an international or Korean drivers license in order to rent a car in Korea. Be sure to arrange this in your home country BEFORE you arrive in Korea. You can reserve a rental car in Jeju Island with this exclusive offer from Trazy, including unlimited mileage, third party insurance, and the registration of an additional driver for FREE.


Click to reserve a rental car in Jeju

If renting a car isn’t an option for you, I strongly recommend hiring a private car or tour bus for airport transfers or any sightseeing around the island. Standing around in the hot sun, waiting for buses isn’t fun for anyone… especially young kids.

Driving in Jeju can be a totally pleasant experience

How to go to Hamdeok Beach

Address: Johamhaean-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
In Korean: 제주특별자치도 제주시 조천읍 조함해안로 (조천읍)

If you plan on serious beach time, a metred taxi to Hamdeok is a good choice is you’re less than 4 people and don’t have much luggage. This is what we did, and it took around 45 minutes and cost less than 25,000 won.

If you plan on exploring a bit further afield, are more than 4 people, or simply can’t travel light, renting a car or hiring a private driver is really the best option.

What to eat on Jeju Island with Kids

If your kids are comfortable eating seafood, there’ll be no shortage of delicious things to eat. From grilled fish, to seafood pancakes to any number of briny stews, you’ll find it pretty much everywhere you turn on Jeju Island.

Seafood and spice is the order of the day on Jeju Island

> Read our post about happily finding California style sushi rolls on Jeju Island.

Don’t fret if seafood’s not your thing though. There’s plenty of other options on Jeju. Burgers, fried chicken and pasta are easy to find. And if you’re looking for something unique to Jeju Island – be sure to try 제주흑돼지 or black pork bbq.

Hamdeok Beach: Essential Info and FAQs

When is the beach open?
You can access Hamdeok Beach in every season, but the swimming season is usually from late June to the end of August. Hours vary in summer time, but usually the beach opens at 10AM and closes between 7 – 9PM.

For me, the fact that there are even “hours” at the beach has always been a strange quirk of Korea. How do they even police these dates and times? But it turns out they do – which we learned when police boats arrived to tell Agri to get out of the water at Gyeongpo Beach after its “closing date” in early September. Swim at your own risk. 😉

What facilities are available at Hamdeok Beach?
You can find pretty much everything you need at Hamdeok Beach. There are toilets, dressing and shower rooms, restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores onsite. You can buy or rent almost anything you need for the beach there, including sand toys, floaties, and boards. You’ll also find hotels, motels, and even a campsite nearby.

hamdeok beach

Hamdeok Beach. Photo courtesy of Cafe Delmoondo

Are there sunbeds and umbrellas available?
It’s possible to rent tables and chairs directly on the beach, but these are not the typical sunbeds with umbrellas we’re used to in North America or Europe. They’re basically just the plastic table with chairs you’d find outside any convenience store in Korea. They do have umbrellas though and offer shade if that’s what you’re after. Cost: 20,000 won per table.

The only sunbed type services I saw at Hamdeok Beach were at Cafe Delmoondo, but they’re not directly on the sand.

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Comments:

  • Sha

    September 12, 2017

    Good tips! I’m planning to get to Jeju next March…but I’ve not started any research yet so I shall keep all these in mind, is it still cold in March you think?…:)

    reply...
    • September 19, 2017

      Yeah, I think it’s pretty cold in March still – maybe even raining, but there’s tons to do there even if you’re not beachin it. I’ve been told by locals that September is actually the best month for swimming – the water’s still warm, but it’s not as crowded and much cheaper!

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      • Sha

        September 22, 2017

        Will have to think of other places to visit instead then if the weather is like that…Hallasan maybe??? Hehehehehe

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  • September 12, 2017

    the water looks awesome! great location

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  • September 13, 2017

    Keep it up, Shelley! You can do everything you want to, even with kids! And Jeju sounds like a really nice destination. Actually, I wanted to go there last year. However, due to non-availability of flights from Hong Kong, we ended up in Okinawa. I heard that the Chinese tourists are avoiding Korea and Jeju at the moment, so, did you feel it was too crowded? Perhaps I’ll explore it next year for a beach getaway, then. Cheers! Dennis

    reply...
    • September 19, 2017

      When we visited, it was definitely busy – but mostly with Koreans because there was a 2 week break with all the after school programs. LOTS of families on vacation…but I still didn’t feel overwhelmed and it was easy to find our own little space next to that sandbar. I’m told the best time to visit in terms of warm water, less crowds and cost is early September, so maybe keep that in mind for your visit. (And I so want to get to Okinawa!!)

      reply...
  • September 13, 2017

    Our kids were huge beach babies in their early years although I don’t think I ever took them solo (3 kids born every other year would have made that completely insane!). This looks like the perfect mother-daughter x 2 trip – I would have loved to do this with a girlfriend way back then!

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    • September 19, 2017

      Haha yeah, 3 kids solo would’ve been insane. We had a great trip, but I was pretty exhausted by the end, that’s for sure. Honestly, I can’t wait till Naia’s just a little older and we can go on a REAL mother-daughter solo trip…or better yet, a daddy-daughter solo trip. 😉

      reply...
  • September 13, 2017

    There’s a lot to be said for hanging out in just one place when your time is limited! If I had a hotel room view like that, I’d be at the beach or on the balcony 24/7!! Except when I was eating, of course – those monster burgers look like enough food for all day, haha!

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    • September 19, 2017

      I really wished I had more time there to enjoy just sitting on the balcony, writing and drinking in that view, but alas, with a little one, those days are over for at least a little while…

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  • September 13, 2017

    Wow..you did it. hats off to you. To be honest I am scared even now to take a solo trip with mine although she has turned 3 now. Now, you are really inspiring me to…

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    • September 19, 2017

      You can totally do it Neha! And technically I wasn’t solo…I went with a girlfriend and her daughter, and that might be a good way to start. It was perfect actually cuz one of us could watch both, while the other went to do what they needed to you. I’m not entirely sure how it would’ve been if I’d truly been solo – but I guess I’ll find out next week when I take the little monster to Thailand by myself. Gulp.

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  • October 13, 2017

    You made traveling solo with kid sounds so easy and definitely manageable. Your daughter seems to be from the same cloth as yours anyways, eh? 😀 Your images make me want to fly, or take a dip. 😀

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    • October 14, 2017

      Haha really? Cuz it was manageable but definitely not easy. Toddlers are super exhausting, always running away from you and poking their fingers where they don’t belong. 😉 Jeju is super close to Japan no? Next summer maybe? 🙂

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