If you want to escape hectic city life, Gureopdo (굴업도) is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Gureopdo is often referred to as the Korean Galapagos. Stroll around sandy beaches and take in the sea breeze. Then, go trekking at Gaemori hill where you can meet some friendly deer and go stargazing at night. Gureopdo is the perfect place for backpackers or anyone who wants to escape to pristine nature.
About Gureopdo Island
Gureopdo is an island with just 8 households. It is one of Incheon’s treasure islands. And, is named after its shape, resembling a person bending down to work.
It is famous for its untouched nature and stunning landscape. While walking around Gaemori hill you can see the whole island. The pine forest on the island is one of the most beautiful in the country. You can also find unique rock formations on the island.
Because of its clear water, it is also a popular destination in summer for beach tourists. Gureopdo is praised as one of the must-see destinations in Incheon.
How to Get There
The starting point to reach Gureopdo is the Coastal Passenger Terminal (인천항 연안여객터미널) in Incheon. It is necessary to take two ferries, as there is no direct one to Gureopdo. First, you go to Deokjeokdo (덕적도). There, you will board a ferry at the same place you disembark. If you don’t have the online ticket on the app, no worries. You can get your ticket at the ferry office on Deokjeokdo.
There are three ferries that go to Deokjeokdo. However, if you want your trip to Gureopdo to be a single day, you have to take one of the two morning ferries. The express one is at 8:30 (1 hour and 10 minutes), and the other one is at 9:10 (1 hour and 50 minutes). With both, you are able to catch the ferry to Gureopdo, which leaves at 11:20.
It takes 1 hour on days with an even number and 2 hours on days with an odd number. When going back to Deokjeokdo, it is the opposite. On days with an even number, the trip is 2 hours, but on days with an odd number, it is 1 hour. So when booking your trip, keep the dates in mind, especially if you get sea sick.
How to book the tickets
You can book the tickets on Gabogosipun-Seom (Click here) but you have to book both tickets separately.
First, choose the destination you want to go to. When you click on it a new window pops up. If you have an account, log in otherwise, just choose 비회원예매. On the next site, you can choose your destination again. So if you click on Deokjeokdo all ferries connecting from and to the island can be found on the left.
Next choose your date, the ships, and how many tickets you need. On the next page, you have to type in all your information. You have to check 외국인. On this site, you can also select discounts, if you have any. Otherwise, choose 일반발매.
If you take the express ship to Deokjeokdo you can reserve your seat. However, if you take the normal ferry you can’t. The last step is paying for the ticket via card. When everything is finished, you will receive a message through Kakaotalk.
Repeat the same steps to get a ticket from Deokjeokdo to Gureopdo.
There are numerous discounts. In particular, there are two that foreigners can use. The first one is for Incheon residents. If you live in Incheon, you can get an 80% discount on all tickets. To claim this discount, click 외국인 인천 and write down your address. When exchanging the ticket at the port you need to show them your ID with your address on it and fill out another form.
바다로 (To the sea) is a yearly pass you can buy for 7,900 won. During the week you get a 50% discount on the tickets, while during the weekend it is 20% if you have this pass. Even if you only take the one trip to Gureopdo, it might still be worth it to buy the 바다로 pass.
Facilities on Gureopdo
Gureopdo has a small population and almost no manmade facilities. The only place you will find facilities at is the small town and the port. At the port, you will find one of the two public restrooms on the island. The other one is at the Gureopdo beach (굴업도 해변), which is next to the village. The buildings have lovely paintings which are worth a photo.
Gureopdo is a famous spot for backpackers. However, if you don’t like camping, there are a few pensions (민박) where you can stay instead. It is better to reserve the accommodation and the meals beforehand. There is no restaurant on the island. However, at the beach is a small café, which offers a bit of food and supplies for backpackers. Also at some of the pensions, you will be able to buy small snacks and drinks. So even if you forget to buy something, you can buy the most essential things there.
What to do on Gureopdo
Gaemori Hill (개머리언덕)
Gaemori hill is the destination of all backpackers. While walking on the ridge, you can enjoy the coastline and encounter a herd of deer. At the end of Gaemori Hill is the perfect spot for camping and enjoying the stars at night. In summer, it also offers an amazing view of the Milky Way.
The elephant rock (코끼리바위)
One special rock formation on Gureopdo is a rock in form of an elephant. It is around a 30-minute walk from the port and makes a perfect photo spot.
Deongmulsan is the highest peak (138m) on the island and provides an amazing view. The summit is also part of one of the Black Yak challenges (섬&산).
Gureopdo Beach (굴업도 해변)
This beach lies directly next to the town and also has a little café, where you can buy different drinks, snacks, and ramen. It is the last place with facilities before reaching Gaemori hill. The beach is perfect for a quiet summer vacation as not many people go there because of the lack of facilities.
Some tips for the trip
If you choose discounts when buying tickets, you can’t use the app to issue them. As boarding, the ferry ends 10 minutes before departure, arrive early enough to get your tickets and confirm your discounts.
The slower ship to Deokjeokdo offers space with floor heating to lie down, some seats, and sockets to charge your electronics.
The ferry between Deokjeokdo and Gureopdo is small. So if there are a lot of people, you have to be fast to get a seat on the boat. Otherwise, you have to sit outside which could be really loud and windy. There are also barely any sockets to charge your phone.
When arriving at the port, the locals come to pick up the guests and their luggage for free. Even if you didn’t book anything, they will bring your backpack to the village and back to the port when you leave.
Gureopdo is definitely worth a visit if you want to have a relaxing time in pristine nature. It offers an amazing rocky coastline, sandy beaches, grasslands, and forests of pine trees. With some luck, you will also be able to see the herd of wild deer living on the island. You can enjoy every season trekking paths and diving into nature. During summer, you can see the milky way at night, thanks to the lack of artificial lights. As there is just one ship coming each day, there are not many visitors, even during summer. Therefore, Gureopdo is the perfect getaway if you want to enjoy nature without a big crowd. However, be aware, that if you plan to go on a weekend, it is best to book your tickets a month in advance.