Our family loves outdoor adventures, and volcanic islands are the perfect destination for us. After amazing trips to the volcanic islands of Tenerife with kids and La Palma with kids, we were eager to find another volcanic playground to explore. When we were planning our family trip to South Korea, we were super excited to discover they had a magical volcanic island too. It didn’t take long for us to add a 4-day visit to Jeju Island with kids to our South Korea itinerary.
Jeju Island has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status as a natural site for it’s special volcanic landscape. There are several Jeju Island locations listed in the UNESCO designation, and we visited them all with our kids. From hiking near the summit of the tallest mountain in South Korea, to exploring the longest lava tube system in the world, we had an amazing time on Jeju Island with our kids.
Visiting Jeju Island with Kids
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Top 9 Things to do on Jeju Island with Kids
Based on our experiences during our family trip to South Korea, here are our 9 favorite things to do with kids on Jeju Island. We have ranked these Jeju Island attractions starting with our favorites, working our way down to attractions which you may want to skip.
1. Hiking the Yeongsil Trail in Hallasan National Park
When we were researching destinations for our South Korea family vacation, we knew we had to come to Jeju Island when we found out it was loaded with excellent outdoor recreation opportunities. One of the best things to do on Jeju Island with kids is to go hiking in Hallasan National Park.
Hallasan National Park encompasses the area around the volcanic cone of the Mount Hallasan, the highest mountain peak in South Korea (1,947 m / 6,385 feet). Mount Hallasan is a shield volcano which is a key component of the UNESCO Global Geopark designation for Jeju Volcanic Island.
When we were researching family-friendly hikes in Hallasan National Park, we discovered that most of the hikes in the national park were either too long & hard (i.e.: Hallasan Mountain summit hikes, which require permits), or were too low on the volcano and looked too boring and/or easy. The Yeongsil Trail hit the sweet spot and turned out to be the perfect kid-friendly hiking trail in Hallasan National Park.
One of the best features about the Yeongsil hiking trail is that you can drive to 1,200 m – 3,935 feet above sea level. This advantage easily gets hikers into the exciting upper section of Hallasan Mountain – the massive Jeju shield volcano. Due to this feature, plus it’s moderate length of 7.6 km / 4.7 miles and the result is an enormously popular Jeju Island hiking trail. We arrived at just after 10 AM on a Monday in April and the massive parking lot was about 95% full.
The Yeongsil hiking trail begins through a very beautiful pine forest. The groundcover beneath the pine trees were unlike any other I’ve seen in the world – it felt like we were hiking in a forest of house plants. It was a weird, yet very enjoyable sensation.
After 0.5 km – 0.3 miles, you’ll hear the sound of a rushing mountain stream in the distance and views of the towering rock cliffs of the Yeongsilgyegok Valley start to emerge through the pine trees. There is some speculation that the massive rock cliffs here are the remnants of an old volcano entrance. Wherever they came from, they are very dramatic and beautiful as they tower overhead.
After 1 km / 0.6 miles of hiking the Yeongsil Trail, you’ll reach a steep set of stairs. These stairs climb up the valley walls on the opposite side of the Yeongsilgyegok Valley from the towering rock cliffs. While the hiking is more difficult, the added elevation you gain from the stairs gives you excellent view of the cliff walls on the far side of the valley and the interesting rock formations on top.
There are observation platforms along the stairs where you can stop and rest. From these platforms, you can see as far as the ocean on a clear day.
Beyond the observation platforms, the Yeongsil Trail really opens up and the views of the Yeongsilgyegok Valley cliffs on your right are spectacular.
At the 2.3 km / 1.4 mile mark of the Yeongsil hiking trail, you’ll reach the top of the Yeongsilgyegok Valley and the trail flattens out considerably. The flat boardwalk changes to dirt, rocks and occasional wood steps. The old, gnarled trees which line the hiking trail here are very atmospheric and provide shelter for countless songbirds who treat hikers to their music along the way.
Beyond the forest, the Yeongsil Trail becomes essentially flat and enters a vast alpine meadow and the rocky summit of Mount Hallasan becomes a prominent feature of the landscape straight ahead. There’s a side trail on the right near the start of the alpine meadow boardwalk, which is a popular spot to get your picture taken with the Mount Hallasan volcano cone. The view was so breathtaking here, that we stopped for lunch.
Back on the main boardwalk through the meadow, there’s another opportunity to take a side trail to the left, which takes you to the shoulder of Jeju Island. From here, you’ll not only get an excellent view of the summit of Mount Hallasan, but you can see the entire western side of the island. You can see Jeju-si to the north, Seogwipo to the south, volcanic cones and ocean in every direction.
This upper viewing point is so spectacular, that it’s a natural turnaround point for the Yeongsil hiking trail. The only reason to continue along the alpine boardwalk is if anyone needs to use the toilet, which can be found a few minutes ahead at the Witsaeoruem Rest Area (which is also a good place to stop for lunch).
The Yeongsil Trail is a very beautiful and rewarding kid-friendly hiking trail in Hallasan National Park. It’s a moderately challenging hike, but you’ll see people of all skill levels completing it. Our family are regular hikers and our kids completed it without breaking a sweat. We completed this hike in 3 hours.
2. Aqua Planet Jeju Aquarium
Although we had recently visited an excellent aquarium during our 6 days in Seoul with kids, we heard such good things about the Aqua Planet Jeju Aquarium that we decided to give it a try too. We’re glad we did – it was different enough, and a really fun thing to do on Jeju with kids!
We were immediately impressed when we entered the aquarium building and saw the giant floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing an epic view of the nearby Seongsan Ilchulbong volcanic structure.
The largest aquarium in Asia, Aqua Planet Jeju is a popular tourist attraction with an epic collection of aquatic life from around the globe. The very first tank was filled with small sharks and colorful tropical fish – a very good first impression!
The Aqua Planet Jeju aquarium is filled with fish that kids love to see in aquariums. In particular, our kids loved the Puffer fish, the exotic and colorful lion fish, jellyfish, a spotted stingray, sea horses and the clown fish (i.e.: Little Nemo fish). We especially liked the cleaner shrimp, who bravely cleans the teeth of a Moray eel!
One thing we thought the Aqua Planet Jeju aquarium did particularly well was the larger sea creatures. At this massive Jeju aquarium you’ll enjoy viewing harbor seals, penguins, a giant octopus, sea turtles, a walrus and even a small group of dolphins. We thought the sea otter display was especially interesting, as it was set-up like see-through aquatic hamster tubes. It was so much fun to watch the sea otters excitedly swimming through the various tubes and displays.
Two of the larger displays that we really enjoyed was the glass tunnel leading through a giant fish tank filled with sharks and sea turtles. The showcase display was a truly massive multi-story fish tank called the “Oceans of Jeju” which featured several species of sharks, giant stingrays and large schools of large fish. It was a mesmerizing display which we could have stayed and watched for a long time.
There are many kid-friendly attractions within the Jeju aquarium including a touch tank (filled with tiny carp fish), a great aquatic themed playground with a small glass tunnel through a fish tank and lots of fun photo opportunities.
But, even with all the fun stuff for kids to do within the aquarium, if you ask our kids about visiting the Aqua Planet Jeju, they’ll likely say their favorite part was the live Ocean Arena Performance. The Aqua Life Jeju aquarium puts on four of these live extravaganzas daily in their large semi-circle stadium.
The stadium offers great view of the large circular pool and the stage behind it. The first half of the 25 minute show is dedicated to a musical dancing and diving show. Our kids were so excited, they nearly lost their minds. The performers were doing some pretty entertaining and thrilling dives, all set to a high energy musical soundtrack. At one point, my daughter leaned over and said to me, “I hope this show never ends”.
The second half of the show was your typical aquarium entertainment, beginning with a trained sea lion, with a pair of entertaining dolphins closing out the show.
With the powerful combination of amazing aquatic displays and a fun musical show, the Aqua Planet Aquarium is a must-do attraction on Jeju with kids.
3. Manjanggul Cave
Located in the north-eastern corner of Jeju Island, the Manjanggul Cave is a really fun thing to do on Jeju Island with kids. The mighty impressive Manjanggul Lava Tubes is one of the major reasons why Jeju Island was named a UNESCO Global Geopark. The lava caves on Jeju Island are largely considered as one of the best lava tube cave systems anywhere in the world, and Manjanggul Cave is the best place to see them with your kids.
Near the entrance of the Manjanggul Cave, you’ll find a small, but very good interpretive center, complete with dioramas of the Jeju Island lava tubes. There are plenty of informative displays, which we were surprised to see all had English on them. The part we liked best about the interpretive center was the awesome series of 3D pictures.
Once we finished learning about the lava tube cave system on Jeju Island, we paid for our tickets and made our way towards the cave entrance. It’s an exciting experience for everyone to descend the stairs into the mouth of the massive cave, as daylight slowly turns into darkness.
Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we could immediately see the immense size of the Manjanggul lava tubes. It’s one of those perfect caves for exploring with kids – it’s dark and it’s wet, with plenty of water droplets falling from the ceiling onto the floor below. It’s a perfectly safe, but a little spooky , environment which our kids always seem to love.
It does get wet in the lava tube cave, so we recommend you wear rain jackets and water-resistant shoes (if you brought them to Jeju Island). There are a lot of deep puddles on the uneven lava floor, so even if you watch your step, you’ll almost guaranteed to step in a puddle.
The area of the Manjanggul lava cave open to the public is about 1 km / 0.6 miles long. In some spots, the lava tube is very tall and wide, while other times, it gets quite narrow. The floor is mostly natural lava, with some stepping stones in the wet spots, but in some of the more challenging areas, they have built boardwalks for easy passage.
There are many interpretive signs within the Manjanggul lava tubes, all of them have an English section. These interpretive signs highlight the interesting features of the lava tubes, including explaining the variable levels of the lava flows, explaining the presence of large rock piles, etc.
Near the end of the Manjanggul lava cave, you’ll walk upon a boardwalk, lit with little UNESCO lamps on top of the fence posts. At the end of the boardwalk, there is a lava column, which was created when lava spilled from an upper section of the tube down into the lower lava tube. As it turns out, the lava column in the Manjanggul cave is the largest lava column in the world.
4. Seongsan Ilchulbong
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous sites on the island, Seongsan Ilchulbong is a must visit attraction on your family holiday to Jeju Island. A mere 5,000 years old, Seongsan Ilchulbong is a relatively new volcanic formation. Rising 182 m / 600 feet out of the sea in dramatic fashion, this tuff cone volcano is an easy opportunity for kids of all ages to walk to the rim of a real volcano and look down into the caldera.
We saved our visit to Seongsan Ilchulbong for our last day on Jeju Island with kids and, as luck would have it, we woke up to dense fog. Ugh! Rather than admit defeat, we hopped in the car and headed to the peninsula to give it a try anyways. In our experience, when visiting natural attractions in inclimate weather, it’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.
The trail to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong begins gradually enough, but soon turns into a long series of wooden steps. The stairs may be hard for some, but it should be physically possible for almost everyone who gets regular physical activity. From the moment we passed the ticket gate to the summit of Seongsan Ilchulbong, it took us 17 minutes of climbing.
Unfortunately, the fog was still thick as pea soup when we got to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong with our kids. We couldn’t see much in the way of views, but that didn’t matter – we still had a ton of fun. The interesting rock formations that line the walkway were especially interesting, and kinda spooky, in the atmospheric fog.
We also had fun looking for little critters in along the trail. Not being distracted by beautiful views of Jeju Island, we were able to focus on the micro details around us. We found snails, caterpillars, and the spider webs in the bushes along the trail were dripping with dew and were incredibly beautiful.
The fog started to lift as we were halfway back down the stairs on Seongsan Ilchulbong. We thought about going back up, but ultimately declined as our experience was unique and special in its own way.
5. Kimnyeong Maze Park
We normally take a pass on tourist traps like the Kimnyeong Maze Park, but seeing how it was just minutes away from the Manjanggul cave, we decided to give it a try, and we’re glad we did.
When we arrived at the Kimnyeong Maze Park, we raised our eyebrows at the fact it costs more than twice what the UNESCO lava tube caves cost, but it’s still a pretty inexpensive activity for a family of four and we felt we got good value for our money.
There are a lot of fun things to do with kids at the Kimnyeong Maze Park besides the maze. There’s a room full of toys, mini-golf, a big playground with slack lines all around, a walking trail featuring funny creatures made out of hedges. There’s also a courtyard with table games such as air hockey, shuffleboard, etc.
One of the activities we liked best at the Kimnyeong Maze Park was a fun race track where you could ‘drive’ these weird little rolling chairs. Basically, you sit down on them and put your feet on a cross-bar, which has a wheel underneath. Moving your feet back-and-forth propels the chair forwards. It was a ton of fun and we all had a lot of good laughs.
The biggest surprise for our daughter was the large amount of cats roaming the property. Upon entry, each of our children were given a small container of cat food to feed the free-roaming cats around the maze park. As with any population of cats, many of them didn’t like attention, but there were enough friendly ones to keep our daughter very happy.
Once we had our fill of the other fun attractions for kids at the Kimnyeong Maze Park, we decided to try our hand at the topiary maze. Made from Leyland Cyprus trees, the unique design of the maze has a lot of symbolism important to Jeju Island.
A sign at the beginning of the topiary maze says that 10% of visitors complete the maze in 10 minutes, but the vast majority complete the maze in 30 minutes or less. Our kids were so excited to rip through the topiary maze that we finished it and rang the bell after just 5.5 minutes. Perhaps we were just lucky?
6. Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest
One of our afternoon’s on Jeju with kids was extremely windy, so we turned to the Windy app to try and find a spot where we could go enjoy some outdoor recreation. We discovered that the Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest was being protected from the wind by the volcanic peak of Mount Hallasan, so we hopped in our rental car for some outdoor family fun.
Located near Jeju-si (the main and largest city on the island), Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest is a beautiful forested area filled with easy hiking trails. We enjoyed a 2.5 km / 1.6 mile walk along the main walking trail throughout the park. It was a beautiful walk, first through a forest of tall pine trees, followed by a walk through a dense forest of cedar trees. With so many trees, the sound of birdsong was a constant companion during our visit to Jeolmul.
We made so many fun discoveries on our easy walk through Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest, including spotting a tiny stick bug, a small, slimy lizard and even a collection of carnivorous pitcher plants. We stopped at one of the many playgrounds in the park and we enjoyed greeting the locals, who were so friendly to our kids.
Our easy family walk in Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest only took us around an hour, but it was worth the effort to visit. It’s a beautiful natural park on Jeju Island and has lots of fun things to do with kids.
7. Woljeongri Beach
We visited Jeju Island with kids in mid-April and it was still a little too chilly for beach weather, but we knew Jeju Island is renowned for its beautiful beaches, so we decided to visit Woljeongri Beach. Wow, it was stunning!
Upon seeing Woljeongri Beach for the first time, we were taken aback by its beauty. With soft, blistering white sand and beautiful, emerald/turquoise colored water, Woljeongri Beach looked like it belongs in the Caribbean Sea, not off the southern coast of South Korea.
One thing we’ve learned traveling the world with our kids is that it doesn’t need to a hot day for kids to have fun on the beach. Our kids even played on the beach during a legit sandstorm on a recent family trip to Tenerife, so when they saw this beautiful Jeju Island beach on a nice (but not hot) day, they were all over it.
Woljeongri Beach is a great beach for kids. The soft white sand is fun to run and play on, and there’s plenty of volcanic rocks around the shoreline for them to explore. Our kids played happily around the tide pools on these rocks for a long time, while we entertained ourselves watching people learn to surf.
Had we visited Woljeongri Beach at a warmer time of year, I’m certain it would have placed higher on our list of things to do on Jeju Island with kids.
8. Pyoseon Beach
A popular kid-friendly Jeju Island beach, Pyoseon Beach is one of the most unique beaches that I have seen anywhere in the world. We visited Pyoseon Beach at low tide one afternoon and the distance from the far end of the beach to the ocean was around 0.5 km / 1,600 feet! It’s easily the deepest sand beach I’ve ever seen!
This abundance of soft sand makes Pyoseon Beach a perfect activity with kids on Jeju Island – just set your kids free on the seemingly endless expanse of sand and let them run free. Once they are sufficiently tuckered out, you can take them to the rocks at the far end of the beach to go beachcombing. There’s a healthy population of hermit crabs in the rocks, which our kids love!
9. Gwangchigi Beach
After our family visit to Seongsan Ilchulbong, we decided to go for a walk on nearby Gwangchigi Beach. To be honest, Gwangchigi Beach is not the nicest beach in the world – there’s a decent amount of garbage on the sand and too many carelessly discarded fish hooks for our liking.
But what we did like about visiting Gwangchigi Beach with our kids was the incredible views of Seongsan Ilchulbong, rising dramatically out of the ocean just across the bay.
As the sections of the beach closest to Seongsan Ilchulbong are not frequented by many visitors, it was a treasure trove of beach treasures. We found so many amazing and colorful seashells, dried sea urchins and conch shells along our family walk. Despite the downsides to this Gwangchigi Beach, it was a fun place to go for a short walk on Jeju Island with kids.
4 Days on Jeju Island with Kids
To help you plan your family trip to Jeju Island, here is how we spent our four days on this amazing South Korean island.
Day 1 of our Jeju Island Family Vacation
Prior to Jeju Island, we spent an amazing 3 days in Busan with kids. We arrived in Jeju after a short flight the afternoon prior and we were ready to go explore the many amazing things to do with kids.
Manjanggul Lava Tube Cave
The weather forecast for our first day on Jeju with kids was supposed to be the coolest day of our trip, so we decided to make our main activity for the day an indoor one – the Manjanggul Cave. This very impressive lava tube cave is part of the UNESCO geopark designation for Jeju Island. The section of the cave which is open to the public is approximately 1 km – 0.6 miles each way, so it’s a nice family walk, but not an extensive hike. Our visit to the Manjanggul Cave took us about an hour.
Kimnyeong Maze Park
After visiting the Manjanggul Cave, we drove a few minutes down the road to take the kids to the very popular Kimnyeong Maze Park attraction. Yes, it’s a big tourist trap, but it was actually a lot of fun. There were lots of fun activities for kids, in addition to the topiary maze, including free-roaming cats to pet and feed.
By the time we were finished at the Kimnyeong Maze Park, it was time for lunch, so we headed down to Woljeongri Beach where we found an amazing Thai restaurant. Afterwards, it was a short walk down to the beach, where we were genuinely surprised at how beautiful it was with soft, white sand and deep turquoise colored water. It wasn’t warm enough yet to go swimming, so the kids had fun running on the sand and playing around the tide pools.
Day 2 on Jeju with Kids
Hiking the Yeongsil Trail in Hallasan National Park
We arrived at the Yeongsil Scenic Area in Hallasan National Park mid-morning to discover the parking lot was nearly full. We hadn’t anticipated what a popular Jeju Island hike this was!
Lucky to have a parking spot, we spent the next three hours enjoying a very beautiful and rewarding hike below the summit of Mount Hallasan. It’s a moderately challenging Jeju hiking trail with a decent amount of stairs, but the epic volcanic scenery on the Yeongsil Trail made it all worthwhile.
Day 3 on Jeju Island with Children
Aqua Planet Jeju
We awoke to an extremely windy day on our third day on Jeju Island with kids, so we decided to go to the best indoor attraction on the island – the Aqua Planet Jeju aquarium. The largest aquarium in Asia, the Aqua Planet Jeju aquarium has a massive collection of popular fish and sea mammals, and even has a daily entertainment show.
Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest
Anytime there is a windy day, a great way to escape the weather is by going to a densely forested area. The Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest was a perfect afternoon activity with the kids on Jeju. We enjoyed an easy family walk through a beautiful forest, making many fun discoveries along the way.
Day 4 of our Jeju Island Family Vacation
Despite waking to dense fog, we didn’t want to miss a chance to climb Seongsan Ilchulbong with our kids. Even though we didn’t get to enjoy the epic views of the tuff volcano cone or the vistas of the Jeju Island rocky shoreline, we did enjoy the atmospheric rock formations in the fog.
We left our rental car in the Seongsan Ilchulbong parking lot and went for a family walk along Gwangchigi Beach. It was a bit dirty, but the abundance of beautiful seashells for our kids to discover more than made up for it.
Our kids love the beach so much, that we decided to spend our final afternoon on our family trip to Jeju Island on the sand. At low tide, Pyoseon Beach has a truly massive amount of sandy real estate – perfect for kids to simply run and be kids.
Getting Around Jeju Island with Kids
We rented a vacation home on the eastern side of Jeju Island as most of the attractions we wanted to see were on that side of the island. Jeju Island looks so small on a map that we figured it wouldn’t take much time to get around to see the rest of the island, but we didn’t count on low speed limits, traffic circles, countless speed bumps, speed photo cameras, etc.
It takes much longer to get around Jeju Island than you’d think. While it’s possible to get around the island by bus, if you are visiting Jeju Island with kids, we highly recommend you get a rental car. In our experience, having our own wheels enabled us to make the most of our visit, by seeing the top Jeju Island attractions on our time, and not wasting time having to wait for an infrequent bus.
We read about local car rental agencies not taking international credit cards, so we rented our car through Hertz at the Jeju-si international airport. Please read the requirements carefully, including the need for an International Drivers License. (Note, that Hertz is co-branded with Lotte Rent-a-Car on Jeju Island).
If you are not comfortable driving in South Korea, there are a wide variety of full-day Jeju Island tours which target a specific side of the island (west, south, etc.). You could sign up for several tours and see the entire island without the need for a rental car!
Alternately, you could sign up for a customized private full-day van tour of Jeju Island. Private tours with kids are a nice luxury as you can just focus on having fun and not having to worry about your kids behaviour, etc. on a public tour.
Where to Stay on Jeju Island with Kids
Most families visit Jeju Island to enjoy its natural attractions – be it the world-class beaches or hiking in a UNESCO Geopark. As such, most families will want to stay outside of the two big cities on Jeju Island, which means finding a family-friendly resort near a beach or a vacation rental home.
As mentioned above, it takes much longer than you’d think to get around Jeju Island with kids, even with the convenience of a rental car. We recommend you plot out the things you want to do on Jeju Island on a map, then pick a place to stay which is in a convenient location.
For our family vacation to Jeju Island with kids, most of the things we wanted to do were on the east coast, so we rented a beautiful 3-bedroom vacation home about a 10 minute drive from the coast. While it made trips to the western side of the island quite long, having a well thought out location for our vacation home significantly reduced the amount of time we had to drive, thus increasing the amount of time we had to enjoy our family vacation.
Where to Eat on Jeju Island with Kids
South Korean food isn’t exactly enticing for most North American or European kids. Unless you stay in one of the two main cities on Jeju Island, it can be a challenge to find restaurants which have menu items which a westernized kid would eat. There’s the odd pizza joint or hamburger restaurant here or there, but if you are staying on Jeju Island with your family, you’ll need a plan on how to feed your family. We’ve written a guide on food in Korea for picky eaters, but Jeju Island is a bit unique given you are likely not staying in a major populated area.
Given we had a vacation rental home with a full kitchen, we were able to self cater the entire time we were on Jeju Island with kids. By shopping at the Hanaro Mart hypermarket (there are many of these small supermarkets throughout the island), we were able to have cereal for breakfast, bagels, cookies and fruit for lunch and some western-style dinners such as pasta, or sausage with roasted sweet potatoes.
We hope you’re enjoyed reading about our 4 days on Jeju Island with kids. It was an incredible place to end our family vacation to South Korea. We hope you have the best family trip to Jeju Island!