The Breakdown: Jeju Island Beach Break (with Kids)
In the first crazy, hazy days of motherhood, I never could’ve imagined the day I’d CHOOSE to travel solo with my wee one. It was hard enough making sure she stayed fed, had clean diapers, and got enough sleep, never mind going to a cafe or eating out at a restaurant.
And travel to a distant land? Yeah, right!
However, humans are adaptable if nothing else, and while motherhood isn’t always easy, I’ve definitely built up enough confidence to take her pretty much anywhere on my own.
It might be ignorance, arrogance or blind faith, but I even hatched up the insane idea of taking her on a plane solo, just as she’s on the brink of toddlerhood.
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly SOLO solo, since we traveled with Hallie from the Soul of Seoul, and her daughter Ava, but baby steps, right? And in fact, this was a trial run for the TRULY solo mommy-daughter flight to Bangkok we have booked at the end of September.
The destination we chose was New Wonder of the World, Jeju Island. With the Seoul to Jeju flight just 1 hour long, it seemed like a safe and manageable place to try our hand at solo mother-daughter traveling for a few days. Plus we were really, really craving some beach time!
JEJU ISLAND ITINERARY
Since it was our first solo mommy-daughter trip, we chose to make it as stress-free as possible, by picking a place and sticking with it.
We chose Hamdeok Beach (함덕 서우봉해변) because it’s known as a great place for traveling with a baby in Korea, with excellent amenities and nearby cafes, restaurants and activities. Located 14 km east of Jeju City, Hamdeok is actually made up of 3 separate beaches, which are mostly shielded by Seoubong Peak, making for super calm water, despite the winds that Jeju is notorious for.
We arrived late in the afternoon, and immediately headed to the western-most of the Hamdeok Beaches to soak up the last rays of the sun. The next day, we woke to find that a huge sandbar had magically appeared in front of our hotel. It turned out to be the perfect toddler-friendly place to spend the day, with soft sand, tidal pools to cool off in, and small sea life for our little ones to discover.
When we tired of the beach, we took a rest in the stunning Cafe Delmoondo, walked atop the mosaic tiled break wall next to the beach, and strolled across a bridge to a small volcanic island to take pics at sunset.
Let me preface this section by saying that we traveled to Jeju during PEAK season – the 2 weeks when all of the hagwons (after-school classes) are closed for vacation. If you travel at other times, you’re likely to find things a lot cheaper, and less busy than we did.
Seoul to Jeju Flight
Our round-trip Seoul to Jeju flight on T-Way Air mid-week, cost 150,000KRW each. Naia, because she’s under 2, was totally free. Keep in mind that kids over 2 have to pay full fare.
A taxi from the airport, straight to our hotel took about 40 minutes and cost just under 20,000KRW each way.
Where to Stay in Jeju
We stayed at 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. It was literally right across the street from the beach, and the room was 124,000KRW per night. I was super happy with the view (which wasn’t really partial at all), the comfortable bed, amount of space and cleanliness of the room. I’d definitely book it again.
Fantastic seafood is a must eat in Jeju, but when you’re traveling with kids, sometimes it’s just about finding something quick that you know they’ll eat.
So, I’m slightly ashamed to admit that we had burgers 2 days in a row for lunch. The first should not even be mentioned, since it was at a fast food chain (which we’d never heard of until we walked in), and the second was at Burger 307 – a “real” burger joint, with some of the best shoestring fries I’ve had in Korea. Both places were on the main street facing the beach, towards the west side.
Combo sets with a burger, fries and drink ran from about 12-15,000KRW, depending on which burger you selected.
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We did manage 1 quality meal at 대촌회미락, a seafood restaurant which was literally right next door to our hotel. Our meal of grilled fish, with all the Korean sides was perfect for our little ones, healthy and super delicious. And while I really really wish I had a picture of the massive grilled mackerel we ordered, I was a bit busy trying to get my monster out from under strangers’ tables. 😮
Each fish, along with all the Korean sides and extras was 20,000KRW.
If you’re only visiting for a few days, pick one place and stick with it. Jeju is an unexpectedly huge island, and it takes a significant amount of time to get from one place to the other. The first time we visited Jeju, hubby and I made the mistake of trying to do too much, which resulted in us spending way too much time driving around and not seeing much of anything.
This time around, Hallie and I took a taxi straight from the airport to the beach, and didn’t move, aside from walking to and from our hotel to the sea.
If you’re traveling with little ones, pick a beach that has reasonable infrastructure around it, like restaurants, cafes and convenience stores within walking distance, and stay put for at least a couple of nights, before moving (permanently) onto your next destination.
JEJU ATTRACTIONS TIP
Since we stayed put in Hamdeok Beach for the duration of our 3 day stay on Jeju Island, I can’t really speak to other Jeju attractions.
However, if you’re traveling with younger kids, Hamdeok Beach is the perfect place to go with them, because of a huge sandbar that appears every morning. It’s 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 so desire. (You won’t).
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There's a huge sandbar at Hamdeok Beach that appears in the morning and disappears by evening due to the long tides. 🌕🌘🌓🌚 * It's perfect for kids, with shallow water, soft sand and tide pools full of small sea life to discover. 🦀🐚 Just watch out for the volcanic rock which has a lot of sharp edges (and even broken glass on them). ☹️ * * * * * #hamdeok #jeju #jejuisland #beachin #제주도여행 #함덕
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.
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My #littletraveler inherited her ❤️ of everything beach-related from her Mediterranean daddy. She never wants to get out of the water and could spend hours just walking through the sea. 🌊 * Do you have a #beachbaby too? What do they love to do at the beach? 🏖 * * * * #jejuisland #제주도여행 #expatlife #familytravel
WHEN IN HAMDEOK BEACH
Without a doubt, the place to see and be seen at Hamdeok Beach is Cafe Delmoondo. And with good reason. It’s eminently instagram-worthy with several different patios from which to take in the incredible views of Hamdeok’s crystalline blue seas, while munching on baked goods and sipping a 6,000krw coffee.
They’re also one of the few (maybe only) places on the beach that has couple cabanas, and real sun beds available for rent, starting at 10,000KRW/hour per person. Something I’ll definitely be looking into next time I’m there.
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Hamdeok beach is made up of 3 separate #beaches. 🏖 This is the middle one and it is pretty damn gorgeous. 😎 * There aren't too many real sunbeds available on these beaches (more like plastic tables and chairs) but @cafedelmoondo has couple cabanas you can rent for 10,000krw/hour. Wish I'd discovered that earlier! 🙄 * * * * * #hamdeok #jeju #jejuisland #beachin #제주도여행 #함덕
Have you been to Jeju? Is there a summer beach you recommend? Share your travel tips in the comments below!
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