Let’s go to… Hahwado Island!

Our humble city of Yeosu is blessed with the gift of islands. While the coastline and city are beautifully juxtaposed against the blue water of the bay, the best way to get away and experience the slow pace of Yeosu is by hopping onto a ferry. With over 300 islands in Yeosu’s territory, visitors and residents have a myriad of options, each with their own highlights and charms. Some islands can be reached in under an hour, while others take closer to 4 on rough waters and mean a guaranteed overnight stay.

This past weekend we set our hearts on a hiking and camping adventure on an island named Hahwa-do. This small island has a full-fledged village, store, and pensions but we went for the camping and hiking. Many of the islands in Yeosu have hiking trails but finding one with designated camping sites is a bit more tricky. We had seen pictures of the beautiful 5.6 km trail but the seaside camping is what sold us.




Yeosu has several ferry terminals that service routes to the islands. Early Saturday morning we met our friends John and Mara and drove down to Baekya-do Port where we parked our car and boarded the 10:00am ferry to Hahwa-do. The ferry was busy with locals headed to the island for some Saturday picnics. A fairly common favorite pastime in Yeosu is hopping on the ferry with some friends, eating pajeon and drinking makgeolli in big groups of friends and family. While we were essentially doing the same thing, we made sure to complete the hike first.


IMG_6063Hiking on Hahwa-do is a really nice way to spend an afternoon. The course only takes about 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace, but the views were stellar and trails were immaculate. Typically, Korean hiking will include a lot of stairs, but Hahwa-do had a minimal amount in favor of rolling trails that we preferred greatly. The islands surrounding the island are also quite beautiful (what in that area isn’t?), so it’s a great way to get a different perspective on Korea. Much of this country is covered in concrete and farmland, but visiting islands often reminds us that we are in a foreign country with typically astounding panoramas that you get in many coastal Asian cities.


With a few beads of sweat on our foreheads, we finished the hike around 2:30 in the afternoon and set off for the only mart on the whole island. We bought makgeolli and settled into our campsite that we had arranged upon our ferry’s arrival. Shoes off and paper cups of rice wine in hand, we relaxed with a nice breeze and chatted about how perfect the weather was after so many weeks of rainfall.


After a few bottles of makgeolli, one of the porpoise lovers (don’t get Stephanie or John started on sea life…manatees in particular) spotted something swimming off in the distance. Several schools of fish had been jumping from the water, either feeding on a hatch of bugs or running from something else, but this mystery animal was different. About 100 meters out, a gray blob was spotted repeatedly surfacing then diving for extended periods of time. Thanks to my super impressive vision, I semi-correctly identified it as a seal-sized Korean Somethingorother. We watching it in disbelief for a long time, not sure if the rice wine was causing hallucinations or if we were seeing rare wildlife, before it had moved too far away to watch enjoyably. Mara speculated that the beast was a mermaid, but that’s just ridiculous. Stephanie later identified them correctly with the help of the internet as a Sangwaengi (상괭이): a small finless melon-headed porpoise that has been hunted by Japanese people and caught in the fishing nets of Koreans to near-extinction. It wasn’t just the makgeolli and our imaginations!


After sundown, we settled into our campsite, ate ramyeon from our camp cups, and laughed well into the night. It felt great to get out and use our tent again, and the weather was perfect. I’m sure that we will be doing several more island camping trips this summer with our friends, so stay tuned.

Getting to Hahwado:

Hahwado is an island and must be reached by ferry. Two ferry terminals in Yeosu service this island, Baekyado Ferry Terminal and Yeosu Ferry Terminal. Yeosu’s main ferry terminal sends boats out twice per day (6am and 2:20pm) but we went down to Baekyado’s Ferry terminal which has more times/options.

Getting to the terminal on Baekyado can seem daunting, but it is accessible by car, taxi, or Bus #28. I’d suggest a taxi getting there, but then a bus back to Yeosu-proper if you don’t have a car (the simplest way). Below, I’ve included some basic maps showing where Baekyado is in relation to Yeosu, and a ferry schedule.

If you have any questions about our city, or would like information on Yeosu’s islands, feel free to contact us on our About page or by leaving a comment below. How do you escape on the weekends? Where is your go-to  camping destination? We’d love to hear from all of you!





25 thoughts on “Let’s go to… Hahwado Island!

  1. Charisse Windebank says:

    Lovely! My family loves to go camping and this is something we would love to do. I too live and Daegu and will definitely be doing this soon. I have a 2 year old and the trails seem easy enough to carry him on a backpack, if needed. Might take you up on the offer for details once we choose a weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      We updated the post to include a bit more detail about how to get to the island! Hopefully that helps 🙂 I think that it would be fine to bring your little one. There are a couple of sections of stairs that are straight up, but they aren’t so bad. After a section of stairs, they have benches so you can rest haha

  2. Wendy Flor says:

    Your pictures are tempting and your narrative made it even more enticing. Great to be going out and about the islands. This makes me miss my own country with more than 7,000 islands hahahaha.

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Yes the Philippines have some AMAZING islands. We have traveled around southeast Asia, and so far our stay on Palawan has been one of the most relaxing and beautiful trips we’ve taken. I believe one of the best ways to experience Yeosu is getting out on a ferry and seeing it from the bay.

  3. Jackie Park says:

    I WANT to camp! One day when my kids are a bit older I think I’m going to show this post to my husband and say, “THIS is where we need to go.”
    Also, your pictures here are amazing. Plus the water look so blue! I just want to jump in and get away from the stress of city life! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  4. Nathan says:

    Wow, what a stunning place! How haven’t I heard of it before?! This is a definite must for me this fall. I’m hoping to make it down to the Yeosu area a bit, might have to make some time for a camping trip…

    I’ve heard stories of the fabled seal-sized Korean Somethingorother… so awesome that you got to see one!

  5. Meaghan Wray says:

    I live in Cheongju so Yeosu is a bit far for me for a weekend, but I’m thinking of going for my 5-day vacation in July/August! How easy is it to get accommodations on arrival? I may end up going on my own and I’d like to camp, but just in the event that I need a last minute pension?

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Hotels in Korea are typically super easy to get even last minute. There are some that you can find through agoda or booking.com for Yeosu, but you could also just show up and price check with a few places. Yeosu is a pretty beautiful place and I think you would really like seeing that part of Korea for your break!

  6. Neysha Bauer (@Travelsuras) says:

    Oh this is AWESOME. I honestly didn’t know that the water in Korea could look that beautiful. Carl has been saying that it’s worth the visit to Yeosu and I really have to make it happen before I head home. I’m wondering, what kind of camera do you guys use?? Is it a GoPro? I know you left a comment a while back about mine, I’ll have to reply! I’m so sorry I’m def the worst. I use a Canon G9, which is definitely not ideal but it gets the job done haha. I love your editing skillzzz though! Great job guys.

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Come to Yeosu! The life here is polar opposite from most of Korea, and a visit can be very relaxing.

      We DO use a GoPro for a lot of things like this, but we use our Canon 6D for all of our photos and about half of our videos. I’m jealous of the G9 size and have considered it a few times, but I’m a nerd for complicated camera systems and grew up shooting my dad’s film Canon SLR’s. Come visit Yeosu and let us know. We’ll tell you the secret spots.

  7. Ke says:

    Hi Hegders 🙂 just returned from a weekend trip to Yeosu + the flower island Hahwado (하화도). In my opinion, one of the most beautiful place to visit while in Korea. Thanks to your post, linked by a friend, I was able to enjoy and soak up the peacefulness Hahwado has to offer. My trip was way too short which mean I’ll just have to go back for more! ^^ My trip to Yeosu and Hawado was possible, thanks to your pics and narratives of all your trips around Korea. I’m inspired to venture to all the places that’s on your blog…hehe keep up the AWESOME job of letting people know there’s more to see and enjoy in Korea! Your latest post “how to get out and explore the rural Korea” where was that pic taken??? Your photos and your simple yet stylish graphic blog has definitely made me a groupie of “hedgersabroad” I will most definitely continue to read and follow you guys. Thanks again!!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Hello, Kim Ke-jung! Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s for people like you that we keep going and exploring Korea, hoping to inspire people. We were so happy when we read your comment and it still warms my heart days later to know how much you’ve enjoyed our simple blog. It’s great that you were able to experience Hahwa Island because it is so beautiful! Many Koreans don’t know how spectacular many of these small and remote islands can be, so we like showing them off. We should have a few more island tours coming this summer if 장마 doesn’t ruin too many weekends with rain. So stay tuned, and we hope to keep you entertained with our adventures!

      Oh, and the cover photo for the “Rural Korea” post was from Gosapo Beach (고사포해수욕장) in Byeonsanbando National Park (변산반도국립공원) in Jeollabuk-do (전라북도). Easily one of our favorite beaches for camping! Let us know if you have any other questions and we’d be happy to help you out.

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