Dadohae Haesang Maritime National Park
Mokpo is the main departure point for anyone to explore the some 3,000 islands of Dadohae Haesang Maritime National Park. This location down in Jeollnam-do is called “Land of 10,000 islands”, and at least if you aren’t counting that sure looks to be the truth. Dadohae Haesang National Park was designated in 1981 as the largest national park in South Korea.
One of the most accessible ways for the traveller to see the islands is from the ferry while it heads towards Jeju Island. Stand on the deck and for the first half of the trip you will pass through hundreds of isles. Many of the islands are quite beautiful and serene; others not so. The largest have fishing ports and small villages, but most are essentially unsoiled by humans.
With the fog rising off a glassy sea, it’s one of the world’s most spectacular sights to see these eerie shapes forming as the boat sails through. The silhouettes of animals or people. Others are barren, save for a lone standing pine that tops the crag like a long yearned love. Beaches are squattered but just as beautiful, strewn with millions of small stones, shells, and shorebirds.Epic breathtaking Ocean life. Daily life and dietary habits on the islands has evolved to live off the ocean, what nature has provided. Harvesting fish, seaweed, kelp, clams, and anything else even remotely edible.
One famous island of the national park is Heuksan-gundo. Heuksan-gundo is a cluster of a hundred islands, the largest of which is Daeheuksan-do.
Another famous island of the park is Hong-do is a rough piece of rock to the west of Daeheuksan-do. Hong-do, the “Red Island,” is named for the hints of pink that can be seen from its rock formations and is famous for the imposing, contorted rock formations and precipitous cliffs that run off down its coast. The best way to see this small island is by boat.
The hundreds of miniature islands and inlets due off the south-western coast of the Korea make up Dadohae Haesang National Park, a marine reserve made up of fishing villages, forests and remote islands crawling with untouched natural beauty. The National Maritime Museum in Mokpo is as great as any introduction needed to the islands before you leave the mainland and boat your way onto some of the more remote islands and areas. Well worth the effort and time of any dedicated traveller or hiker out there to be aware of what to be on the look out while sailing through the maze of islands.
The most popular site in the park is the temple Hyangilam, which enjoys the sunrise and sunset upon a cliff on the southern tip of Dolsan-do. Passenger boats are available to various islands from harbors on Mokpo, Yeosu, and Wan-do. Since some of the islands are far removed from the mainland, plan ahead and check the weather beforehand. You don’t want rough waters ruining your days.