The day I hiked along the Igidae coastal trail was one of my favorites. The sky was blue and cloudless; the weather was warm; there was a fresh breeze coming off the water; the trail wasn’t crowded; and the view…
After waking up with food poisoning the day before, I didn’t think I was going to have the energy to make the long hike, and in for another day of dragging myself out of bed and walking around on willpower and stubbornness alone. Luckily, somehow, when I woke up that morning, I felt the best I had since arriving in South Korea. And despite the steep inclines and endless stairs (which is like…90% of Korea anyway), the hike was refreshing both physically and mentally.
There are two ways to start the coastal walk: from the Oryukdo Skywalk or the Igidae Park Entrance on the Gangan Bridge side.
I decided to do the entire trail starting from Oryukdo Skywalk, for two reasons: I had read that starting from there was easier, and I wanted to go to Gwangalli Beach at the end of the day. Gwangalli Beach is on the Gangan Bridge side, so once I finished the hike, it was another 15-20 minute walk to Namcheon station. From there, it was just two stops to Gwangalli Beach.
I’m not sure if starting at Oryukdo Skywalk is easier than starting from the entrance. There seemed to be as many steps and inclines going up or down in both directions. But, if you want to do the full trail and see both the skywalk and Gwangalli Beach in the same day, I definitely recommend starting from the skywalk. And if you don’t want to do the entire 3+ hour hike, there are various points where you can loop around to do a shorter trail.
The skywalk itself is small, but free. Basically it’s a glass platform that slightly juts out over the rocky cliffs. I’ve read a lot of blogs that said it was a bit scary, but it wasn’t scary at all for me. The view is beautiful, and on a clear day, the Oryukdo islands are easy to see. Most people stop to take a few photos, then move on.
Because the platform is glass, there are cloth booties for you to put over your shoes to keep it from getting scuffed up. A good idea, even though the glass itself isn’t perfectly transparent – it’s more of a cloudy, blue-ish tint, so you don’t have a clear view of what’s below you.
After I was done with the skywalk part, I walked down a long set of stairs that led down the cliff, and down to the water.
Then it was back up the stairs, a brief stop at the cafe for some iced coffee, and up another set of long stairs to begin the hike!
I think my walk took twice as long because I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I love heights and being near the water – put me on high cliffs on the coast, and I am in heaven.
It was one of the most beautiful, relaxing, hikes I’ve ever done, and I would do it again if I ever had the chance.
The only disappointing thing about the trail is the trees that block a lot of the coastal view in parts, but I still managed to get some good pictures out of it!
Before my trip, I read several blogs that talked about how popular hiking is in South Korea, and they weren’t wrong – it is super popular. I saw people of all ages, hiking alone, as couples, as groups of friends, families…
Igidae apparently hasn’t quite hit the radar for many foreign tourists, so even on a nice day, the trail was less crowded than the more well-known hikes.
As an American living in a county where we put warning signs and fences on or around everything, one of my favorite things is being in places that don’t do that.
That said – I didn’t step off the trail to climb on the rocks. I was alone, wearing flat-soled shoes, and already slipped a few times. I didn’t want to be that person – the one that makes people point and go, “that’s why Americans put fences around everything.”
So I just took a lot of pictures.
Towards the end of the trail, Gangan Bridge comes into view, and you start to feel like it’s so close, but I think it took me another hour to reach the entrance after I first spotted it.
After a little over three or four hours, I finally ended at the entrance!
How to get to Igidae Coastal Walk via Oryukdo Skywalk
Everything online says to take subway line 1 to Busan Station and get out at Exit 10, then take bus #27 to SK Humun (backgate). Because I was staying at the Shin Shin Hotel, and relying on Google maps (Naver is actually more reliable but my Korean isn’t good enough for it to be useful), I took line 2 to Motgol Station and caught the #27 bus from there.
Listen for the bus stop and press the “stop” button when it’s announced.
It’s fairly obvious when the skywalk comes into view – you’ll see apartment complexes on the left, and cliffs/water/Oryukdo islands in front on the right.
Where are your favorite hikes?