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Chuja Island is actually composed of 42 islands in the Jeju Strait of South Korea, sitting halfway between Jeju Island and the south coast of Jeollanamdo. Interestingly, only four of these are inhabited: Sangchujado, Hachujado, Chupodo and Hoenggando.
Famed for its red poppy fields, Chuja Island blossoms into colour during spring, which is a beautiful time to visit. In terms of its geography, it was the only area within the province that wasn’t lifted above sea level by volcanic activity thousands of years ago, offering some of the loveliest beaches in South Korea.
The island chain is also renowned for its sea angling, with a vast diversity of fish found beneath its waters including yellow corvinas, Japanese Spanish mackerels, horn fish and snappers, so be sure to spend an afternoon at the waterside. The glistening blue ocean contains fascinating algae, starfish and coral species as well, making it a decent spot for snorkelling.
Emerald and undulating, the peaks of Chuja offer some enjoyable hiking trails, the most popular being Olle 18 which stretches over 17 kilometres. The last section of a series of walking routes in Jeju Province, it takes you through quiet alleyways of amber-tiled townhouses ascending to a lighthouse at the island’s highest point, where you’ll be surrounded by various birds of prey, black wood pigeons and streaked shearwaters circumnavigating the hills.
Jeju Island is one of South Korea’s most popular holiday destinations, for both foreigners and nationals, and so getting the ferry to Chuja Island from there is highly recommended if you’re looking for somewhere slightly off the beaten track. The crossing, available daily, only takes a couple of hours, offering beautiful panoramas of the Jeju Strait.
A similar ferry crossing departs from Wando of Jeollanamdo; Chuja is equidistant between the two, taking you through the network of green offshore islands to the port of Chuja in just two hours as well.