Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Tides of Gyeokpo Beach

Gyeokpo Beach
Being not-quite-ready to return back from holidays when we did. Two friends and I decided to run off to the beach for the day on our first weekend back. We decided to head up to the Buan (부안) area of Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province) and check out the beaches around there. We ended up at Gyeokpo (격포) Beach, about a half an hour local bus ride south of Buan (note, we realised once there that there is actually a direct bus from Gyeokpo to Gwangju!). With nearly no-English language information available on Gyeokpo on the net, all we knew was that is boasted a famous (in Korea at least) harbour and some cliffs that someone had once said were worth visiting.

Looking northward along the beach.

The tide was out when we arrived and the beach itself seemed to be pretty cute, if not all that large. Expensive sea food restaurants (we got some cheaper seafood closer to the road) nudge right onto the sand, and the area was filled with families frolicking in the surf and floating about in their rented yellow inner tubes. One curious thing we noticed was that everyone seemed to have left their stuff pretty high up on the beach but, beyond deciding to do the same, we thought nothing of it. We also saw people off to the south end of the beach walking along exposed rocks at the base of the 'cliffs' where a pontoon serving something had also been tied. Being eager to get into the water, we decided we'd leave what we figured would merely be tide pools for later exploration and jumped right in - not even bothering to take any pictures (something I would regret later!).

While the weather was beautiful and warm, the wind was extremely strong (and I mean extremely strong, I saw more than one uprooted umbrella go by) and whipped up some great surf for playing in. I love bobbing in waves!! In fact, we were having so much fun bobbing around that we didn't notice at first quite how much the tide had risen. By the time we headed back inland, the tide had risen half way up the beach, the rocks were no longer visible and the pontoon was taking off. It was also at this point that a local asked us if we'd managed to wander around the point because it was a 'very famous sight seeing spot in Korea'. We said that sadly we hadn't, and asked when low tide might come again. He said it was still rising.

The tide coming further in. Compare this to the first picture and bear in mind that that one wasn't even taken at low tide!

and it comes higher... I'm starting to figure out why people left their things so high on the beach!

When we'd first entered the water around noon, you could walk out  nearly to the distance of the point with your head remaining above water the whole time. By the time we left at 4:30, the water was up to my chin only 3m out from the restaurant. There hadn't even been water there when we arrived!

Two ajummas play in the surf at the base of one of the restaurants.

I could've sworn this was a beach only hours ago!

We did eventually make it around the point (coming at it from the landward side). This is what we found:

Gyeokpo Harbour. I'd've loved to have seen the difference between high and low tides here.

What we ended up missing:

Notice all of the little rock statues. At low tide you can walk right out across the water and go inside them.


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