The Crystal Clear Water of Gyeongpo Beach In Gangneung
When summer hits Seoul, it sometimes seems that the population in the city doubles with the arrival. People that had hidden inside from the cold are out and about and places that seemed like hidden gems are swarming with people.
All of the hubbub can be overwhelming and too noisy so a quick trip away to reboot and breathe some fresh salty air is usually what’s on my mind. And it seems to be on the minds of many around me because the coasts heat up with fun and festivals and bodies in bikinis. This week a friend and I headed to Gyeongpo Beach (강릉 경포수욕장) in Gangneung, Korea to find a beach, eat some salt water tofu and learn about gramophones among other things.
Gangneung, one of the most popular beach cities in Korea offers something for everyone with beaches, lakes, a long history, a national park and delicious food and since it’s easily accessible from Express Bus Terminal and on the train line from Seoul, it’s really a must visit.
We got up early and caught a bus to Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal and three hours later we’d arrived. As of 2018, you can now get a train out to Gangneung Beach that is even faster and easier so check into it. Outside of the terminal, we jumped right onto bus 202 got off at the last stop and the next thing we knew we were standing on the beach. Gyeongpo Beach (경포해변) stretches six kilometers and is formed between the ocean and Gyeongpo Lake. This makes it an especially appealing vacation spot as the lake is surrounded by a lovely bike path and marshy walking trails, two great options for days that are too overcast to enjoy the sea.
The white sand beach is backed by a wall of pine trees with a wooden plank path that winds down the coast. The water is a mix of beautiful shades of blue that was clear all the way down to our feet on the ocean floor. If you’re looking for the clearest blue water I’ve seen in Korea, this is the beach you should be seeking out this summer. Though the water was still a bit chilly, we dove in and splashed around. We weren’t the only ones in the water, university students that have finished up their semester were also in groups along the beach renting tubes, riding banana boats and speeding by on jet skis. Groups of students came for beach fun by day and sparkler fun by night, but also in the mix were numerous couples hand in hand or riding tandem bikes in the area known as a romantic destination.
In the spring, the lake is surrounded by cherry blossoms and the saying goes “you can see the moon five times here, in the sky, in the sea, in the lake, in your glass and in the eyes of your lover.” Gyeongpo certainly has something for everyone. There is plenty to do and plenty to see and if you’re in Seoul, this is probably the best beach that is easily accessible. While this beach is popular, the entire coastal region in this area is gorgeous beach after gorgeous beach so it’s easy enough to go a bit north or go a bit south and find a place that has plenty of space. Since we were a bit early for summer, there were no crowds and the ambiance suited us just fine.
We spent the first day at the beach and ended it by eating shellfish and grilled shrimp at one of the numerous beachfront restaurants lining the strip. As it’s not yet high season, it seemed that our restaurant servers were in eager spirits and not only paid quite a bit of attention to our grill, slicing and dicing our fishy goods when needed, they also provided us with an extra service of shrimp and shellfish on the house. With bellies full, we hopped into a local convenience store to buy some fireworks because a day at the beach would not be complete in Korea without some sparkly lights in the night sky. Again surprised with local friendliness, the shop keeper loaned us her lighter instead of making us buy one and gave us two noisy fireworks for free. It was a perfect ending to a day on the beach away from the ruckus of city streets. If Gangneung isn’t the spot for you, fear not because there are plenty of beaches all around this peninsula to check out. Definitely plan a beach getaway this summer.
This is just one of the beautiful beaches in the region. Check out Naksan Beach, Sungeut Beach and Jeongdongjin Beach for more picturesque white sand and clear emerald water beauties on the east coast of Korea. We head to this coast almost every summer because it is just that beautiful and that worth the trip. This area is known for combining beautiful natural spots and cultural relics. Don’t miss a stop by Naksan Temple. While Haedong Yonggungsa Temple down in Busan has been described as the only seaside temple in Korea, it’s just not true. Naksan Temple is also a seaside temple set on the cliffs overlooking the ocean on the east coast.
Know Where To Stay!
There are some great places to stay out in the Gangneung beach area. If you want some recs, look into Golden Tulip Skybay. Featuring a fitness center, spa and sauna, and a swimming pool, it has all of the amenities for relaxing weekend away.
If you want to go ALL OUT, look into the Seamarq Hotel. The hotel has all of the amenities if you want to have a special weekend away. Treat yourself and enjoy the beach. Gyeongpo Beach just might be the best place in Korea for a beach getaway. It’s definitely my favorite spot.
강원도 강릉시 안현동 산1
1-san Anhyeon-dong Gangneung-si Gangwon-do, Korea
Amenities: Bathrooms and shower rooms for the public, camping site (500 people occupancy), 1,000 parking spaces, water-skiing, banana boat rides, tube rental, boat rides, jet ski rides
Directions from Seoul: Get a bus from Express Bus Terminal to Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal (~W20,000). From Gangneun Terminal, catch bus 202 (~W1,200) outside and take it to Gyeongpodae.