Four hours’ ferry-ride from Incheon is BAENGNYEONGDO (백령도), almost tickling the North Korean coastline and as such home to many military installations. In 2010 the Cheonan, a South Korean naval vessel, suspiciously sank just off the island, seriously damaging relations between the two Koreas for details. Baengnyeongdo literally means “White Wing Island”, due to its apparent resemblance to an ibis taking flight, and although the reality is somewhat different you will find yourself gawping at Baengnyeongdo’s spectacular rock formations, best seen from one of the tour boats that regularly depart the port. Some of the most popular are off Dumujin, to the west of the island, while at Sagot Beach the stone cliffs plunge diagonally into the sea.
The tranquil nature of these islands is sometimes diluted by swarms of summer visitors – it’s best to visit on weekdays, or outside the warmest months. Ferries (3 daily) head to Baengnyeongdo from Incheon’s Yeonan pier, departing at 8am, 8.50am and 1pm; return sailings are at 8am, 1pm and 1.50pm. There’s also simple accommodation on Baengnyeongdo, though given the island’s distance from Incheon – and the recent military problems – it’s best to organize this at a tourist information office before heading out.