Oct 1, 2020
Emerald-blue seas, black basalt terrain, lush evergreen foliage—Jeju Island is a trove of tropical treasures. Long a favorite destination with South Korean vacationers, this UNSECO Geopark boasts myriad charms, and the most unique and fulfilling way to discover them all is not on wheels but on foot. Hugging the wild coastlines of the island in a 425-kilometer loop is Jeju Olle Trail, an unforgettable slow-travel adventure that showcases the island’s peaceful villages, pristine beaches and stunning volcanic landscapes.
The Jeju Olle Trail joins together 26 different coastal routes to circumnavigate the entire island. Each route is on average 16 kilometers, featuring immersive natural beauty paired with glimpses of everyday local life. The scenery is constantly changing along the trail, as it navigates through small villages, and up and down the island’s “oreum”—small, extinct volcanoes. There are routes that traverse iconic Jeju landmarks like Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak, Yongduam rock, Sanbangsan mountain and Jeongbang Falls, and some that are flanked by tangerine, carrot and garlic fields on one side, and aquamarine seas on the other.
Jeju Olle Foundation, the non-profit organization that created the trail, provides a free companion guide service for all first-time and solo hikers. Run by volunteers, the foundation also hosts regular programs, with a daily Guided Walk—a half-day hike along a different route every day—and the half-day Clean Olle Campaign hikes, scheduled on the second and third Saturday of every month. On the fourth week of each month, hikers are invited on a group walk that completes an entire route.
While there is no official foreign-language support on the trail, international visitors are sure to find hikers participating in the above events who can help with communication. Trails are well sign-posted and there are shops and rest stops along almost every route, giving visitors from around the world a chance to experience Korean hiking culture.
Before you set out, pay a visit to Jeju Olle Tourist Center, a one-stop service point for the Jeju Olle Trail. located at the end of Route 6 and the start of Route 7, the center features a guesthouse, a restaurant with coffee and local craft beer, and all the information you need for an unforgettable journey around Jeju.