Beaches in Korea: Naksan and Anmok Beach
Maybe we should’ve called our Take 6 Trips in Korea Challenge, the Take 6 Trips to the Beach in Korea Challenge instead, because so far, that seems to be all we’ve managed to do.
Hey, what can we say? We like the beach. 🙂
Our first trip in Korea this year, took us to New Natural Wonder of the World, Jeju Island, (which granted, is a whole lot more than just beaches), and the second found us exploring the quirky Suncruise Resort at Jeongdongjin Beach.
For our third journey around the peninsula, we found ourselves on 2 different beaches on Korea’s East Coast. First, on Naksan Beach, and then Anmok Beach.
A lot of expats rave about Naksan Beach, with many even calling it one of the best beaches in Korea. So we were definitely curious to check it out for ourselves.
First impressions were good. Naksan Beach was a wide, spacious 4 kilometre swathe of beige-ish sand set in front of the massive ocean, and backed by the usual Korean beach suspects – convenience stores, shellfish BBQ restaurants and motels.
Far in the distance, we spied 1,300 year old Naksansa Temple with the white granite visage of Haesugwaneumsang (해수관음입상) or the Bodhisattva of Mercy, gazing out towards the sea in peaceful meditation.
As the day wore on however, we became a little less enamoured with Naksan Beach. I’m not sure if it was because of the time of year we visited (last weekend of August), but the sand was pretty muddy and not very soft, and the water never quite turned into a lovely enough shade of blue to satisfy us.
I secretly wished we’d headed back to our old standby – Gyeongpo Beach, for the last beach weekend of the year, but of course, it’s always great to check out new places…even if it doesn’t end up meeting your expectations. At least you know for next time! :p
The great thing about finally having a car (thanks Baby Naia for making us to get one), is that you’re not forced to stay somewhere you don’t really want to. Of course, you never really are, but a car sure makes getting around a lot easier.
And since we were feeling rather lukewarm about Naksan, the next day, we decided to check out a beach we’d stumbled upon by accident, while searching out our dinner, the night before.
I’d never heard of Anmok Beach, but it’s apparently quite famous amongst locals, for the “Coffee Street” that backs it, and I’d agree that’s it’s pretty great. There were at least 3 or 4 unique cafes that I could’ve easily spent the day in, but we wound up in the newly opened 3 story Bossa Nova. It did not disappoint with good coffee, delicious pastries, and a gorgeous view of the sea out of floor to ceiling glass windows.
And what a sea it was. Where Naksan Beach had disappointed with washed out colours, Anmok Beach delivered with creamy-toned fine sand and vivid blue water.
The only annoyance was the constant drive-bys of seadoos trying to entice customers to use them, which filled the air with the odor of gasoline and the whining noise of their motors. This could easily be avoided by setting up camp at the far end of the beach. There’s no escaping this type of thing on a Korean beach unfortunately. It’s part of the culture.
Anmok Beach itself wasn’t as developed as Naksan – we saw no umbrellas for rent and no vendors walked by offering us bingsu, fruits or grilled squid – but I much preferred Anmok to Naksan Beach. It felt like a more modernized version of the usual Korean beach experience. One I’d definitely like to visit again.
WHERE TO STAY: AARK
We stayed at Aark in Gangneung City. Our group of 5 people took up most of a 6 bed dorm. The hostel was super cute, the beds were clean and comfortable, and a decent breakfast of eggs and fruit was included. We booked through AirBnB.
There were a few minor issues – the room was pretty hot, with little ventilation, and not much sleep was had, because of the sheer number of mosquitos – but I’d still recommend staying there for a few days. Warning though – there’s only 1 bathroom for several dorm rooms to share.
HOW TO GO FROM SEOUL TO GANGNEUNG
Take an express bus from Seoul to Gangneung Express Bus Terminal. You can catch a bus at either the Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal. Consult a Seoul subway map, on an app like Jihachul to see which Seoul bus terminal is closer to you.
To get to Anmok Beach, take a 20 minute (9,000krw), taxi ride to from the Gangneung bus terminal to the beach.
With just 2 months left in the year, winter upon us, and a newborn in the house, we’ve still got 3 trips left to take to complete our #Take6Trips in Korea Challenge. Do you think we’ll succeed?