Introducing The Dadohaehaesang National Park

South Korea is a country known for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant cities, and picturesque landscapes. Among its many natural wonders, Dadohaehaesang National Park stands out as a unique and captivating destination. Located in the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula, this national park is not just any ordinary park. It is the largest national park in South Korea, encompassing a vast area of islands, sea, and coastal ecosystems. This article aims to provide an in-depth exploration of Dadohaehaesang National Park, highlighting its history, geography, biodiversity, attractions, and activities for visitors.

Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea's Maritime Gem

The History of Dadohaehaesang National Park

Establishment and Significance

Dadohaehaesang National Park was established on December 23, 1981, as the first maritime national park in South Korea. The park was created to preserve the unique marine and coastal ecosystems and to promote sustainable tourism. The name “Dadohaehaesang” translates to “Sea of Many Islands National Park,” reflecting the park’s composition of numerous islands scattered across the sea.

Cultural Heritage

The area around Dadohaehaesang National Park has a rich cultural history, with many ancient temples, shrines, and historical sites. The islands within the park have been inhabited for centuries, and their cultural heritage is intertwined with the natural beauty of the park. The traditional way of life of the island communities, including fishing and farming, continues to be an integral part of the park’s charm.


Geography and Climate

Location and Size

Dadohaehaesang National Park spans over 2,200 square kilometers, making it the largest national park in South Korea. The park stretches across the southwestern coast, encompassing parts of South Jeolla Province and Jeju Province. It includes approximately 1,700 islands, each with its unique landscapes and ecosystems.


The climate in Dadohaehaesang National Park is classified as a temperate maritime climate. The region experiences mild winters and warm summers, with a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. The maritime influence ensures that temperatures remain moderate, making it an ideal destination for outdoor activities year-round.

Geographical Features

The park’s geographical features are diverse, ranging from rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to dense forests and tidal flats. The islands are characterized by their varied topography, including mountains, valleys, and coastal plains. The highest peak in the park is Dalma Mountain on the island of Geomundo, which rises to an elevation of 423 meters.

Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea's Maritime Gem

Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Marine Life

Dadohaehaesang National Park is renowned for its rich marine biodiversity. The waters surrounding the islands are teeming with life, including numerous species of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. The park’s marine ecosystems are home to various species of coral, seaweed, and marine plants, which provide habitat and food for marine animals.

Terrestrial Flora and Fauna

The terrestrial ecosystems of the park are equally diverse. The islands are covered with lush forests, including temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. These forests are home to a variety of plant species, including many rare and endangered plants. The park is also a haven for wildlife, with species such as deer, wild boar, and various birds inhabiting the islands.

Conservation Efforts

Given its ecological significance, Dadohaehaesang National Park is the focus of extensive conservation efforts. The park’s management is dedicated to preserving its natural habitats and biodiversity. Various programs are in place to monitor and protect endangered species, restore damaged ecosystems, and promote sustainable tourism practices.

Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea's Maritime Gem

Major Attractions

Hongdo Island

One of the most popular destinations within Dadohaehaesang National Park is Hongdo Island. Known for its striking rock formations and scenic beauty, Hongdo Island is often referred to as the “Red Island” due to the reddish hue of its cliffs at sunset. The island is a designated Natural Monument and is home to diverse flora and fauna.

Hiking Trails

Hongdo Island offers several hiking trails that take visitors through its stunning landscapes. The trails vary in difficulty, catering to both casual hikers and experienced trekkers. Along the way, hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the sea, forests, and unique rock formations.

Heuksando Island

Heuksando Island, also known as the “Black Island,” is another gem of Dadohaehaesang National Park. The island is famous for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs. It is an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Marine Activities

Visitors to Heuksando Island can engage in various marine activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. The island’s waters are home to colorful coral reefs and a wide array of marine life, making it a paradise for underwater exploration.

Geomundo Island

Geomundo Island is renowned for its historical and cultural significance. The island was an important maritime hub during the Joseon Dynasty and has several historical sites, including ancient fortresses and temples.

Cultural Heritage Sites

One of the notable sites on Geomundo Island is the Geomun Seowon, a Confucian academy that played a vital role in the island’s educational and cultural development. The island also features several traditional Korean houses, offering a glimpse into the island’s past.

Activities for Visitors

Hiking and Trekking

Dadohaehaesang National Park offers a plethora of hiking and trekking opportunities. The park’s diverse landscapes provide a variety of trails, ranging from easy coastal walks to challenging mountain hikes. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the park’s natural beauty while enjoying breathtaking views of the sea and islands.

Bird Watching

The park is a paradise for bird watchers, with numerous species of birds inhabiting its islands and coastal areas. The tidal flats and wetlands are particularly rich in birdlife, attracting migratory birds from across the region. Visitors can observe a wide variety of birds, including herons, egrets, and shorebirds.

Marine Exploration

For those interested in marine life, Dadohaehaesang National Park offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving. The park’s clear waters and abundant marine life make it a top destination for underwater exploration. Guided tours and diving excursions are available for both beginners and experienced divers.

Cultural Tours

Exploring the cultural heritage of the park is another rewarding activity for visitors. Guided tours are available to historical sites, temples, and traditional villages within the park. These tours provide insight into the rich cultural history of the islands and the traditional way of life of their inhabitants.

Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea's Maritime Gem

Sustainable Tourism and Conservation

Eco-friendly Initiatives

Dadohaehaesang National Park is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices. The park management has implemented various eco-friendly initiatives to minimize the environmental impact of tourism. These initiatives include waste reduction programs, eco-friendly accommodations, and the promotion of sustainable travel practices among visitors.

Community Involvement

Local communities play a crucial role in the conservation and sustainable development of the park. The park management works closely with island communities to ensure that tourism benefits the local economy while preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Community-based tourism initiatives provide visitors with authentic experiences and support local livelihoods.

Research and Monitoring

Ongoing research and monitoring efforts are essential for the conservation of Dadohaehaesang National Park. Scientists and researchers conduct studies on the park’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and environmental health. These studies provide valuable data for the development of effective conservation strategies and management plans.

Practical Information for Visitors

How to Get There

Dadohaehaesang National Park is accessible by ferry from various ports along the southwestern coast of South Korea. Major ferry terminals include Mokpo, Yeosu, and Wando, which offer regular services to the islands within the park. Visitors can also fly to nearby airports, such as Muan International Airport and Yeosu Airport, and then take a ferry to the park.


The park offers a range of accommodation options, from camping sites and guesthouses to more luxurious resorts. Many of the islands have eco-friendly lodgings that blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings. It is advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Dadohaehaesang National Park is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild and the landscapes are at their most vibrant. Spring (April to June) offers blooming flowers and pleasant temperatures, while autumn (September to November) provides stunning fall foliage and comfortable weather for outdoor activities.

Travel Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Given the park’s size and the number of islands, it is essential to plan your itinerary in advance. Research the islands you wish to visit and the activities you want to engage in.
  • Pack Accordingly: Depending on the season and activities, pack appropriate clothing, footwear, and gear. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit.
  • Respect the Environment: Follow the park’s guidelines and regulations to minimize your environmental impact. Avoid disturbing wildlife, dispose of waste properly, and stay on designated trails.
  • Stay Informed: Check weather conditions and ferry schedules before your trip. Be prepared for changes in plans due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea's Maritime Gem

    Dadohaehaesang National Park: South Korea’s Maritime Gem


Dadohaehaesang National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures. Its vast expanse of islands, diverse ecosystems, and rich biodiversity make it a unique destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re exploring its rugged cliffs, diving into its clear waters, or immersing yourself in its cultural heritage, Dadohaehaesang National Park promises an unforgettable experience. As you plan your visit, remember to embrace sustainable travel practices to help preserve this maritime gem for future generations.

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