With its pristine environment, ranging from golden fields to pine trees and mountain trails, Gyodong Island near the western port city of Incheon makes for a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Meanwhile, its historical relics and cultural assets add another dimension to any trip here.
Although a bridge will soon connect it to the mainland, the islet, which lies near Ganghwa Insland in Incheon, can only be reached at present by a 15-minute boat ride.
Ferries run regularly from a port on Ganghwa Island between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. But visitors are advised to check the schedule in advance as they can change depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
One of the top attractions is a site where visitors can find traces of Korea's oldest Confucian school, called "Hyanggyo." Ancestral tablets of famous scholars also mark the spot.
Another top draw is Mt. Hwagae, which rises 259.6 m above sea level. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the peak. The trail leading to the mountain is dotted with historical sites and traces, including a place where fires were lit to warn of invaders, and a mountain fortress built to repel foreign aggressors.
The thickly-wooded trail is also filled with the aromatic scent of pine trees and wild flowers. From the peak, visitors can enjoy breathtaking natural views.
After soaking up the scenery from a mountain pavilion, they can head back down to a small local market. Old-fashioned signboards create a sense of nostalgia in this 400-m alley, which feels like a throwback to the 1980s with its home-appliance repair shop, barber shop and roast chicken eatery. It takes just 10 minutes to stroll around it.
For more information on Gyodong Island, visit http://www.nadeulgil.com.