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Jeju-do's various beaches and rocky terrain make for a variety of watersports options. You can scuba dive, go wind sailing, paraglide, water-ski, or just enjoy swimming in the ocean. For the less aquatic of us, there are also ground sports options, like horse riding, golf, pheasant hunting, or badminton. If you're more of a spectator than a participant, check out the Jeju Racecourse or see if there's a game on at the Jeju World Cup Stadium.

Horseback Riding

Jeju Island used to be a breeding and training ground for the ponies used by Mongol invaders. The horses you'll see on the island are the descendents of native horses which were interbred with the Mongolian ponies. They're smaller than the horses you may be used to riding at home, but they're quite hardy and can carry loads of up to 104kg (230 lb.).

There are about 20 horse ranches on the island, most of them on hillsides and mountains. One of the best is the Chowon Seungmajang Ranch (tel. 064/738-0344) in Seogwipo. It'll cost you about W35,000 for a 30-minute ride.

Paragliding

Jeju-do is one of the best places in the country for paragliding because there are a large number of launch sites, regardless of your skill level. Because the island has over 360 oreum (parasitic volcanoes), there are suitable sites for launching no matter which way the wind is blowing. The best flying conditions are from September to October, but you can fly year-round (except during typhoon season). Equipment rentals are about W30,000 and a full training for beginners costs about W200,000. Contact the Jeju-do Paragliding Association (tel. 064/723-9224) for more info.

Scuba Diving

Already well known for its amazing women divers, the underwater scene around Jeju-do is spectacular. Because it gets both cold and warm ocean currents, the biodiversity of the marine life here is hard to beat. There is a wonderful mix of colorful tropical coral and temperate species, as well as unusual underwater rock formations formed by lava flows that quickly cooled when they hit the water. There are great dives all around Jeju and its surrounding islands, but the best known is Udo, off the eastern coast. There is also a group of four small islands off of the coast of Seogwipo that are popular with divers. The clearest waters are found off Seogwipo, Udo, Sibling Island, Chagwido, and Gwantal Island.

Water temperatures are generally quite chilly, especially compared to other tropical areas in Asia. The best conditions are from September to November, when there are more fish and visibility is excellent. It is a bit difficult to find English-speaking instructors, but check the diving directory on Scuba in Korea (www.scubainkorea.com) for dive trips. You can also contact Big Blue 33 (tel. 064/733-1733; www.bigblue33.co.kr) or Pacific Diving School (tel. 064/762-2220) in Seogwipo.

Surfing

Jeju-do is popular with Japanese surfers, since the island's southern coast catches the same Pacific swells that make Okinawa so popular. Jungmun Beach is the main surfing area on the island. If you don't want to lug your board, you can rent one there for about W20,000 per day. Surfers say that the best waves are on the next beach to the west (at the bottom of the cliffs below the Hyatt Regency). During typhoon season, it's reported to have 3.6m (12-ft.) tubes. Another good location is Sagye Beach, at Hwaseon, near Sanbangsan.

Windsurfing

The Korean Windsurfing Association Cheju Training Center (tel. 064/782-7552) at Shinyang Beach is your best bet for reliable information about windsurfing or boardsailing on Jeju-do. Although their main business isn't rentals, they have a pretty good selection of boards to rent. The best time for windsurfing is around mid-September through March, when the strong winds from the northwest create good conditions. Another popular spot is Hamdeok Beach on the north coast.

 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.