Categorized | Expat Life, Korea, Travel

Heuksando (흑산도 – Black Mountain Island), South Korea

Heuksando (흑산도 or Black Mountain Island), South Korea is an island off the southwest coast about 97.2 km from the city of Mokpo. It’s a small island with not many inhabitants (just over 3,000), but it is a tourist attraction with multiple daily ferries running from Mokpo.  It’s a slice of heaven off the coast and a great place to visit if you want to kick back and relax for a few days.

Getting to Heuksando (흑산도)

In order to get to the island, you need to take a ferry from Mokpo. The ferry ride is about 2 hours and cost 32,800 won one way. I was worried about getting sea sick, but that wasn’t an issue. The ferries are quite big and unless a storm is brewing the waters shouldn’t be too rough.

The ferry runs only a few times a day with the first one leaving at 7:50am. The next few run after 1 pm and then later in the afternoon. You can’t purchase tickets on site on days prior so show up early if you want to take the first ferry.

You can get to Mokpo a few different ways. One is to take the KTX or you can take a bus from any major city to Gwangju and then a short 50 minute bus ride from there onto Mokpo.

Getting around Heuksando (흑산도)

There is public transportation on the island in the form of a shuttle bus. The island has one main road that goes around the whole island, and it has a lot of great views. The public bus costs 1,000 won each time you get on. You can get on and off but be aware the time between when you get off and it comes back could be an hour or longer.

Another option is a taxi. There are taxis on the island that you can use. We did not use them, so I don’t know how much English they speak, but I wouldn’t count on them speaking any at all.

The final option on land is to take one of the tour buses. In a parking area near where the ferries drop you off, you will see many tour buses. We walked up and ask about a tour and one driver led us to another who was happy to take us. The tour lasted around an hour or so and costs 10,000 won per person, and it was worth it. It stops a few times and allows you to get out and take photos of some beautiful spots. The road itself is an adventure as it winds its way through the mountains on the island.

Another option, that isn’t land based but a great way to see the island, is taking a boat tour. A tour company runs a few different tours with one just going around Heuksando itself. We opted for a different tour that took us out and around some other islands. It lasted just under 2 hours and included a stop where everyone got off the boat to visit some caves. The trip costs us 17,500 each and was well worth it. They sell drinks on board and there is a small, and I do mean small, bathroom. They run at different times and you can get information and a brochure at the information desk which is behind the police station where the main ferry comes and goes.

Things to do on Heuksando (흑산도)

Other than touring around the island, there isn’t a whole lot to do. Fishing is big enterprise here, so you can always grab a pole from one of the shops and find a good spot.

There is a swimming beach not too far from the main part of town. It can be reached by the public bus, or you can walk. It’s probably a few km away but not too far that you can’t make it.

There is a lot of hiking on the mountain as well. Like most of Korea, it is covered with mountains so there are ample hiking opportunities.

For those who want to let their hair down, there is a nore-bang on the island (Korean style karaoke). There is also a PC room if you need to keep in touch. We did notice that 3G service was great on the island as most of Korea seems to be well wired.

Other than that, its just a great place to go to kick back and relax. There are plenty of places to grab a cold drink or picnic lunch and just enjoy the cool breeze off the water.

Eating on Heuksando (흑산도)

If you haven’t guessed it by now, the island has a lot of great seafood. Fish, clams, and much more can be found here. Everything we had was delicious and fresh caught. There tended to be a lot of places with pictures of manta ray. We did not try it, but I have heard it is good.

For those who don’t like seafood, there is a great chicken place on the island. It has all sorts of chicken to order from sweet to very very spicy. So if you need a change of pace from the seafood, check it out.

There is a grocery store on the island and several little marts with all sorts of stuff you can buy from eggs to ramyeon to snacks and more.

Staying on Heuksando (흑산도)

We spent 2 nights on the island, and while it wasn’t 5 star accommodations, it was clean and comfortable. There are a lot of small hotels on the island. However, you won’t find most of them listed online, at least not in English. We enabled the help of the Korea Tourism Organization (www.visitkorea.co.kr). There you can find some information in English but what was most helpful was their travel hotline (your area code + 1330). We were able to talk to them in English and they contacted a few places on the island to set us up with reservations prior to leaving. They were very helpful and made everything very easy for us to find accommodations on the island. It’s a free service as well. They also have a nice iPhone app that is well worth downloading for travel around Korea.

Our hotel costs us 35,000 a night. It was clean with its own bathroom, 1 bed, a TV, air conditioner, and a small refrigerator. It was close to the ferry terminal and in the midst of all the restaurants in town.

Leaving Heuksando (흑산도)

You have to book your tickets the day of. Most Koreans come and stay for the day and then leave on the late ferry which I think leaves around 5pm. That ferry might fill up quick as a lot of them will come over on the ferry and then book their return ticket when they get there. We went back on the 2nd ferry of the day at 11:10 and it was not full. On the return ride you circle back making a stop at another island before returning to Mokpo.

Again its a comfortable ride and the ferry has a snack bar on board if you get thirsty or need a snack.

One thing we discovered on the way back was that on some of the boats you can go outside in the back while the boat is going. This provided us with some great vies of other islands in the area. So check after leaving port if you can out out back. You are not allowed to go up on the front of the ferry, but on our return trip we went to the back. Our ferry had two levels in back and it provided with some great photo opportunities of islands, fishing boats, and other sites along the way.

If you have any questions about the island, getting there, or anything else, feel free to contact me.

A few pictures of our trip.

Heuksando South Korea

View of the harbor on Heuksando

Ferry on Heuksando

Ferries in port on Heuksando

Fishing boats - Heuksando

Fishing boats - Heuksando

View from top of mountain on Heuksando

View from top of mountain on Heuksando

Heuksando, South Korea

Heuksando, South Korea

Sunset on Heuksando

Sunset on Heuksando

If you like these pictures, you can see many more of my adventures here on the island on Flickr.

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About Eric Bynum
I taught ESL for three years in South Korea and now I am looking to set out on a new journey after just finishing my teaching certification in the US. I hope to continue teaching and traveling and you can follow his journeys here.

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