South Korea // Jeolla //

Islands around Wando

Heading further afield, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with even the tiniest inhabited islands served by ferry from Wando-eup. Maps of the islands are available from the ferry terminal, where almost all services depart, with a few leaving from Je-il Mudu pier, a short walk to the north.

At the time of writing, Cheongsando (청산도) was the island most visited by local tourists, mainly due to the fact that it was the scene of Spring Waltz, a popular drama series. Naturally spring is the busiest time of year here – and quite beautiful, with the island’s fields bursting with flowers. More beautiful is pine-clad Bogildo (보길도), a well-kept secret accessible via a ferry terminal on the west of Wando island – free hourly shuttle-buses make the pretty twenty-minute journey from the bus terminal in Wando-eup. In the centre of tadpole-shaped Bogildo is a lake whose craggy tail, stretching east, has a couple of popular beaches.

As the coast curls northwest towards Mokpo, the bewildering array of islands shows no sign of letting up. Jindo (진도), one of the most popular, is connected to the Korean mainland by road, but every year in early March the tides retreat to create a 3km-long land-bridge to a speck of land off the island’s eastern shore, a phenomenon that Koreans often compare to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea – this concept holds considerable appeal in an increasingly Christian country, and “Moses’ Miracle” persuades Koreans to don wellies and dash across in their tens of thousands. For the best dates to see this ask at any tourist board in the area, or call the national information line on t 1330. Visible throughout the year is the secluded temple of Ssanggyesa (쌍계사), which is best accessed by hourly bus (W1000) or taxi (W7000 from the bus terminal); if you’re choosing the latter option, arrange a pick-up time with your driver, or at least hang onto his business card.

Jindu is also famed for the Jindo-gae, a white breed of dog with a distinctive curved tail; unique to the island, this species has been officially classified as National Natural Treasure #53. The mutts can be seen in their pens at a research centre – fifteen minutes’ walk from the bus terminal – which occasionally hosts short and unappealing dog shows, as well as a canine beauty pageant each autumn.