June 8, 2024

Yeongjong Island Trip: A Korean Beach Adventure Just 30 Minutes from Seoul


Yeongjong Island (영종도), home to Incheon Airport (인천공항), is a favorite travel destination for residents of the metropolitan area due to its direct highway connection to Seoul. Typically, traveling to see the sea on the east coast (동해안) takes at least three hours, but Yeongjong Island is conveniently located just 30 minutes to an hour away from Seoul. This proximity makes it the second most searched destination on navigation systems and a popular spot for many Koreans.

Driving to Yeongjong Island (영종도) from Seoul is a delightful experience in itself. There are currently two bridges, the Yeongjong Bridge (영종대교) and the Incheon Bridge (인천대교), which offer breathtaking views that can ease your mind and make the journey enjoyable. You can experience the changing sea views with the seasons along the way.

If you had to choose between visiting the east coast (동해안) or the west coast (서해안) of Korea, which would be better? From a foreigner's perspective, I would recommend the west coast (서해안). Here's why.

To fully enjoy a beach trip in Korea, it's essential to understand the structural differences between the east coast (동해안) and the west coast (서해안). The west coast features gently sloping beaches with shallow waters (average depth of 44 meters) and is composed of mudflats and sand, while the east coast has steep slopes (average depth of 1,500 meters) and consists mainly of sand and rocks. The sea color differs too; the east coast is blue, while the west coast often appears murky due to the mudflats. However, the west coast benefits from the purifying effect of the mudflats, resulting in better water quality compared to the east coast. The tidal range is also more pronounced on the west coast (about 5 meters) compared to the east coast (about 1 meter). The best part is that the west coast is much closer to Seoul.

Because of these characteristics, the west coast (서해안) offers entirely different views depending on the season and tidal changes. Its well-developed mudflats are a great place to enjoy fresh and diverse seafood at reasonable prices. While beaches like those on the east coast can be found in many parts of the world, the west coast's mudflats are unique and can only be found in places like the east coast of Canada, northern USA, northern Europe, and Korea. Among these, Korea's west coast (서해안) is the only one designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While swimming in a sea full of water is fun, exploring mudflats during low tide, collecting shells, and walking to parts of the sea that are usually inaccessible are unique experiences.

Yeongjong Island (영종도) has several famous beaches such as Eulwangri (을왕리), Wangsan (왕산), Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위), and Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장) on the nearby Muuido Island (무의도). Among these, I recommend Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위) and Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장).

Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위)

My first impression of Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위) was its cozy and serene atmosphere. The beach isn't vast, but it feels magical when the tide recedes, revealing its hidden beauty. The beach is named after the legend of a fairy who descended on a rainbow to play on the rocks. When I visited on a Friday afternoon, the beach was quiet and beautiful, with light filtering through the clouds in a mystical way. However, a return visit on Saturday revealed a crowded beach with heavy traffic. I recommend visiting on weekdays for a more peaceful experience.

The view from the Muuido Island bridge(무의도 다리에서)

The second place I recommend is Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장) on Muuido Island (무의도), connected to Yeongjong Island (영종도) by a bridge. The view from the bridge is stunning.

Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장)

Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장) is larger than Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위) and offers a variety of activities. During high tide, the water is shallow, making it perfect for swimming. During low tide, you can walk far out into the sea and collect shells, a rare opportunity usually impossible in deep water. The beach's fine sand and mud mix makes walking barefoot a pleasant experience. You can collect shells with your hands or use a small shovel, but you'll often feel something hard under your feet. Dig there, and you'll find shells. Walking into the receding sea and experiencing the beauty of nature is truly magical.

You can have a similar experience at Seonnyeo Rock (선녀바위), but Hanagae Beach (하나개해수욕장) offers the unique opportunity to walk nearly 1 km into the sea during low tide. Check the tide times in the Incheon area before visiting to ensure you don't miss this unique experience.

While collecting shells is free, you can pay a fee to enter areas where local fishermen cultivate clams if you want to gather more. Other activities include zip-lining and riding ATVs on the beach. There's also a seaside trail with steel-structured bridges along the cliffs for a unique hiking experience.

It's hard to believe that such a beautiful and peaceful sea experience is just 30-40 minutes from Seoul. However, keep in mind that weekends can be crowded, so visiting on weekdays is recommended.

This article focuses on the beaches, but Yeongjong Island (영종도) also offers delicious food, charming cafes, resorts, and various activities. Stay tuned for more articles where I will introduce the best food, cafes, and activities on Yeongjong Island.

For a relaxing cafe experience after your beach adventure, check out our article on the must-visit cafes near Incheon Airport: Yeongjong Island Cafe Tour: Must-Visit Cafes Near Incheon Airport

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