Incheoní»s hidden gem: Deokjeok-do

Written by Wade Atherton
Big city lights, large amount of people, delicious food, great bars, whether its day or night, Incheon is a hub of activity. If you arrive in Incheon by bus you quickly see how busy and active this city is, with its massive skyscraper buildings, bright lights, and constant chitter-chatter from the large crowds will surround you. All of this can be quite overwhelming and somewhat exhausting for the weary traveler and some may wish to escape the hustle bustle of this big city life for nature or tranquility. This can be easily done in Incheon by simply hopping on a ferry to one of the Incheon islands.
There are many beautiful islands east of Incheon however some of the most beautiful are found in Ongjin County, specifically Deokjeok-do. At this island you can witness one of Incheoní»s best sights, a breathtaking sunset on Seopori beach.

Getting to the islands can take time but ití»s well worth it. To get to the islands one must travel by ferry. The ferry departs from the Incheon ferry terminal several times every day, the ticket price is very reasonable. Once you get onto the ferry you are looking at a 3 hour journey, there is an express ferry that is quicker (just over an hour) but there is no need to rush past the beautiful sights that you can see along the way or miss out on feeding the seagulls which follow the boat. The seagulls tend to follow the ferry in hope of catching some food that gets tossed off the side of the boat. A tip in this case would be to buy a packet of chips, especially the shrimp flavored chips, the seagulls go crazy for it and you can even get a chance to have a daring seagull eat a chip out of your hand. In order to get to the ferry terminal you can travel by either subway (line 1) to Dongincheon Station, then take bus (numbers 12, 34 and 720) or simply just by taxi.

Upon arriving at Deokjeok-do port, you can look for accommodation as pension and minbak owners sit and wait by the docks there for possible customers. However it is nice to do some research before hand as it will be less stressful. The accommodation options range from apartments to camp sites so there is something for all budgets. The camp site at Seopori beach is the closest accommodation to the beach and the facilities are really nice.
There are a number of pensions within walking distance of Seopori beach which is perfect for a relaxed island vacation. One of the many great things about the island is its quite peacefulness. Occasionally you may see fisherman or some holidaying foreigners on the beach, but the island is very laid back and most people are relaxing and soaking up the sun. Swimming in the sea is definitely a must as the sea is clean and surprisingly warm. However one should be aware that there are considerable differences between high and low tide on the islands. At times you may find you have to walk along the beach for up to 500m to get to the ocean and other times when beach is barely visible with the ocean swallowing it whole. There are very few waves in the ocean so comfortable floating and swimming is great.
During the day there are many activities for both the lazy and adventurous. On the beach there are volleyball facilities and plenty of space to play beach games or to just simply build sand castles. During the summer months you will usually find a small group of foreigners enjoying the sun along the beach, so ití»s easy to get a game of volleyball or soccer going. For those who enjoy fishing, cheap fishing rods can be bought at the small cafe's next to the beach. On the other side of the island is a pebble beach which is one of Koreaí»s nature reserves. There is a fee to enter the beach but the scenery is worth the cost. There are many other smaller islands around Deokjeok-do which provide the adventurous with an even more peace and solitude. The ferry departs from Deokjeok-do for these islands once or twice a day but only in good conditions so it is best to consult with the pension owner or ferry terminal staff before planning your trip.
For those who enjoy hiking, the mountains provide a great escape and the paths are not too taxing on the legs. The paths are well marked out and largely shaded by a canopy of trees which helps to keep you cool. There is opportunity to make your own path at times and rough it a little more in the bush if paths are not your thing. At the top of the mountain closest to Seopori beach there is a pagoda with a panoramic view of the island, a must see if you are up for the hike.
Leaving Deokjeok-do is never easy, but when the day comes, taking the ferry back to the big city is just as beautiful as it was on the first journey. When the ferry approaches the Incheon mainland you will see spectacular views of Incheon Bridge and Songdo. It is well worth sitting on the deck of the ferry to admire the sights.

After a relaxing weekend on Deokjeok-do one caní»t help but smile as you return to the big city refreshed and aware that you can return to the islands again whenever you so desire.
Details on this island are easily accessible on the internet. There is a pension owner named David Kim (011-296-5858) who is great to speak to about accommodation and other general information about the island. His English is really good. If he has no space at his pension he is always happy to give you help in finding another place for you to stay.