TAEAN, South Chungcheong Province -- Taean-gun, a popular seaside getaway on the west coast of Korea, is quiet most of the day. But when golden hour hits, parking lots by the coast get crowded with visitors who stop to take in the stunning seaside views bathed in an explosion of colors.
For many Koreans, residing in a country surrounded by three distinct seas, witnessing a coastal sunset or sunrise is not unfamiliar. Yet Taean, and its unique beaches, is considered one of the must-go sites where you can enjoy an unparalleled sunset.
Kkotji Beach, a sandy getaway some 180 kilometers south of Seoul, is among 38 beaches on the west coast of Korea. It is widely known for its “getbol,” or Korean tidal flats.
When the tide is low, visitors can catch small crabs and clams. But beware of the flock of seagulls that descend on the shores to find food.
Another famous attraction is the pair of rocks just off the coast. Coming from a heart-rending legend of a devoted couple from Korea’s Silla Kingdom (BC 57-AD 935) who are unable to forget each other, the two iconic rocks are known as Halmibawi and Harabibawi, which means grandmother rock and grandfather rock, respectively.
Kkotji Beach really comes into its own at golden hour, when the sky turns a brilliant tangerine hue. The warm, orange glow spreads across the horizon, giving the sea a shimmering, reflective surface.
For a killer sunset photo, wait until the sun dips between the rocks. A walk on the short log bridge makes for some candid, movie-esque shots.
If you want to get away from the crowds at Kkotji Beach, Unyeo Beach lets you enjoy the dazzling sunset in more peace and quiet.
Nicknamed “Korea’s Salar de Uyuni,” a thin layer of water changes Unyeo Beach into a stunning canvas with a splendid mirror reflection of the short pine tree trail and the sunset.
This otherworldly scenery is what many campers and backpackers seek out.
“Many people know this beach as a beautiful sunset viewpoint. But I personally think the time after the sun goes down is unmatched,” said a retired retail company worker surnamed Park.
Nothing is more soothing than stargazing at Unyeo Beach, accompanied by the sound of crashing waves, Park said.
Take a walk along the pine trees to feel the ocean breeze, or go a step further and dip your toes into the clear water of the West Sea to enjoy Unyeo Beach to its fullest.
For those who wish to spend the night at the beach, a spot at the campgrounds costs 20,000 won.
Baeksajang Port and Sambong Beach -- among other sunset sites in Taean -- have their own unique charms.
The bustling port and the picturesque coastal village features a unique, spiral bridge and colorful, bobbing boats. Sambong Beach became popular with Gaengji Cave, a spot that makes for romantic sunset photos.
This article is the seventh in a series introducing destinations for eco-friendly travel experiences in South Korea. --Ed.