Yeosu is just a small city in Jeollanam-do on the southern coastline of Korea. Don’t let its size fool you, however. The city is an up-and-coming contender in the international travel scene. With its magnificent history, beaches, islands, an unrivaled countryside and delicious seafood.
Visitors coming to Yeosu can explore a city rich in culture and beauty. Yeosu is the birthplace of the symbolic turtle ship, built by Admiral Yi Sun-sin and Nah Da-yeong when the city was the naval headquarters of the eastern Jeolla Navy Division in the late 16th century. The turtle ship is a central source of national pride for the Koreans as it aided in the ultimate defeat of the Japanese invaders in the Imjin War.
Yeosu has some of the most famous and best beaches in Korea: some bigger, and some secluded. The most well-known is Manseongri Beach (만성리해수욕장). It is popular as it is the only black sand beach in Korea, and visitors flock here to experience a hot sand bath in the summer. The sand is said to be good for alleviating pain.
Nearby Manseongri is Mosageum Beach (모사금해수욕장). One side looks similar to Manseongri’s rougher terrain with its beautiful rocks and sea view. The other side is a smaller, prettier “simulated” beach made of artificial sand.
A newer and increasingly popular beach is Ungcheon Beach (웅천해수욕장), which was developed last year alongside a modern, trendy apartment complex called G-Well. This is also an artificial beach, and sand was brought in to allow better access to an area that offers a stunning view of the sea and hills.
Regular explorers will suspect that not all of the best sites are inside the city limits. Take a drive out of town and into the sprawling countryside to find hills to climb and cozy spots to picnic in. From the Soho-dong harbor you can drive out toward Najin and Hwayang-myeon to find beautiful farmland, lakes and more seascapes. You can also drive over Baekgyadaegyo Bridge (백야대교) for a fun day trip to see the lighthouse, walk down along the rocky shore, sit in a small pavilion near the sea with your sack lunch.
It’s said that Koreans come to Yeosu when they want to pig out. The food is plentiful, spicy and delicious. All the common Korean foods are found here as well as some of the best seafood around.
You can enjoy fresh and local seafood anywhere in Yeosu, but hoe (회, sashimi) connoisseurs will want to visit the Gukdong Fish Port Complex for some cheap fish on auction early in the morning. There are also smaller fish markets around Yeosu where you can have large fresh fish cleaned and chopped up for you.
Even many Koreans have never visited Yeosu, preferring instead to head to the beaches of Busan to the west or the tourist hot spot of Jeju Island.
Four Fascinating Islands Around Yeosu
When you’ve had your fill of the mainland beaches, try scouting out the easily accessible islands nearby. The municipality of Yeosu consists of the Yeosu peninsula as well as 317 islands. Dolsan-do and Odong-do are the most eminent, while Geomun-do and Sa-do are also fascinating gems.
- One of the bigger islands and a famous sight in Yeosu which takes approximately two hours to explore.
- On your way to Dolsan-do you get to drive over the Dolsan Grand Bridge.
- In the day the sun shimmers on the water and from the bridge you can view many islands and the Yeosu harbor. At night, its cable structure comes alive with colorful lights which reflect onto the water below.
- Dolsan is also the site of Hyangilam (향일암), a Buddhist hermitage where people come from all over Korea to see the first sunrise of the New Year.
- Odong-do is the most well-known place in Yeosu.
- It is connected to the mainland by a man-made walkway.
- The walkway along with the surrounding sea, striking cliffs and camellia flowers are what make this island special.
- Hike around the island and keep an eye (and ear) out for a musical fountain.
- Geomun-do is made up of three separate islands: Go-do, Dong-do and Seo-do.
- There are many camellia flowers and old trees.
- You can see two historic temples here.
- There is a famous lighthouse on Seo-do.
- Sa-do is actually a cluster of seven small islands.
- The site is famous for its “Moses miracle” – two or three times a year at low tide the water level drops so much that all seven islands are joined into one.