When the summer sun beats down relentlessly, nothing feels more refreshing than diving into the cool ocean at a beach. The best beaches in Korea offer more than just swimming, though. Imagine riding a train with picturesque views, and eating the freshest seafood you’ve ever had at a beachside food stall! Enjoy refreshing water sports, and then recharge in a café or bakery nearby. No matter your travel style, these top beach destinations have it all!
* Beach operations subject to change depending on social distancing measures
* Busan beaches closed August 10-22 due to social distancing level being raised to Level 4
* Many Jeju beaches closed August 18-29 due to social distancing level being raised to Level 4; inquire in advance
Haeundae Beach is not only a representative beach in Busan, it’s one of the most popular beaches among Koreans! In summer, both domestic and international travelers head to the area to relax in the sun and enjoy swimming in the shallow waters. Haeundae Beach is unlike other beaches in Korea in that the sandy shore stretches between the sea and tons of tall buildings!
Being right next to the city has its perks, including plenty to see and do. The newly opened Busan X the SKY observatory and Haeundae Blue Line Park in particular are two popular options.
The southern point of the beach ends at Dongbaekseom Island, a small island covered in a lush forest of camellia and pine trees. The island may be small, but it offers plenty to see, including the landmark Nurimaru APEC House, a suspension bridge, and walking trails throughout. The best course follows the coast of the island from Nurimaru APEC House all the way back to Haeundae Beach.
Even after the sun has set, you can still find a brightly lit area next to the beach at Haeundae Food Stall Zone. The tents here sell all kinds of fresh seafood and alcohol, with each small tent feeling like a private restaurant for you and your travel partners!
There are 20-some food stalls, all with their own recommended menus. One of the best menus, while being a bit on the expensive side, is the lobster course. This filling meal comes with dish after dish of fresh seafood! The food stalls by the beach are a great way to enjoy the local flavors while still getting your fill of salty sea air.
Haeundae Food Stall Zone
North of the main city center of Busan, Gijang is another great summer destination. Imnang Beach is famous for its pine forest and the beautiful silver and blue waters at night. Compared with Haeundae Beach, Imnang Beach is a quiet oasis, perfect for travelers looking to just relax rather than see and do it all. Of course, that doesn’t mean the beach doesn’t have its own activities. The waves here are relatively high, attracting many surfers.
For an amazing ocean view of Imnang Beach, head to the nearby Waveon café! You can take in the view from the rooftop café, or in the comfort of the air-conditioned café through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The café’s design, featuring parasols, benches, and even hammocks, brings to mind a relaxing resort more than a café.
Waveon is also a great place to visit for its architecture, having earned the Korea Architecture Award for its building design. If you enjoy glamping, consider booking a night at The Moving, located just next to Waveon. The caravans come in a variety of styles and designs, each one as cute as the next. Don’t forget to upload a photo of your outstanding view on social media!
Gwangalli Beach is unique in that the horizon appears to be doubled, due to Gwangandaegyo Bridge. The beach is easy to reach using public transportation, and is surrounded by fun things to do, drawing in a steady stream of visitors. The beach is lined with cafés, hoe (sliced raw fish) restaurants, and accommodations, all complete with ocean views. Gwangalli Beach is also the venue for the annual Busan Fireworks Festival.
Jungmun Saekdal Beach, located within Jungmun Resort on the southern coast of Jeju Island, gives off an exotic vibe. The long stretch of sand is lined with palm trees, and ends in rocky cliffs. Being open to the ocean, the waves are quite high here, making it a popular beach for surfing.
The Cliff is a popular dining spot near the beach where you can take in the seaside scenery, and an especially beautiful sunset. The restaurant always has an active vibe, with house and techno music playing, as well as often hosting DJ performances and parties.
Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do is great for driving or walking through the forest of pine trees that grow next to the beach. There are also many facilities for tourists, including restaurants, accommodations, and even campgrounds, making this beach popular among younger travelers.
Anmok Beach is the southernmost beach in the main city area, and is backed by Gangneung Coffee Street. The street is lined with coffee shop after coffee shop, each with its own unique ambiance. The street itself is so popular, it has been listed on KTO’s 100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea since 2015!
The cafés all face the beach, offering great views from their second-floor seating and higher.
Sokcho Beach is popular among visitors all year round with a range of attractions, including a walking trail through a pine forest, flower paths, and photo spots. It is also extremely easy to reach on foot, just a five-minute’s walk from Sokcho Express Bus Terminal, making it a top pick for tourists. This short distance means you can also enjoy the tasty foods that are available in downtown Sokcho.
Naksan Beach is another great spot to visit if you enjoy walking, as there is a forested trail that follows the 2-kilometer-long beach. The beach itself has a shallow bay, suitable for swimmers of all ages. Vacationers can enjoy a comfortable trip with surrounding amenities including cafés, convenience stores, restaurants, and accommodations. If visiting, be sure to include a stop at the nearby Naksansa Temple, one of the Eight Scenic Sites of Gwandong.
* This column was last updated in July 2021, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.