Tag Archives: 죽도해변

Learning how to surf in Yangyang, South Korea

Our surfing instructor gives Hailey, me and Shayna some pointers on Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

Find out more about Yangyang, South Korea’s coolest surfer town, in this post.

An express bus from Seoul zipped along the winding roads as city skyscrapers gave way to lush greenery and tall mountains. Yangyang, an idyllic surf town in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, is about a two-hour journey from the country’s capital. It doesn’t take long to reach the northeastern coast from Seoul, although it feels like a different world there.

We arrived late Tuesday night in order to wake up for our surf lesson, courtesy of Candy Surf, at 10 a.m. the following day.

Candy Surf offers surf lessons and accommodations in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Candy Surf is one of the many, many surf shops in Yangyang that offer everything from surf lessons and rentals to repairs and lodgings. The shop is rustically-decorated with hardwood paneling and glass bottles of sand from the world’s beaches adorning its front desk.

Candy Surf bringing SoCal vibes to Gangwon-do. SCREAMfmLondon

Some more beachy decor. SCREAMfmLondon

We stayed overnight in the guesthouse portion of the shop. It’s set up like a typical hostel, with rows of bunk beds lining each wall of the (separate) men’s and women’s rooms.

The room comes complete with a nice floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach, which is perfect for ogling the surfers walking around in their wetsuits outside.

The women’s bedroom at Candy Surf’s guesthouse. SCREAMfmLondon

The rooms are clean and well-maintained. Our only major complaint about the guesthouse is that there is no indoor shower — only one outside in the alley. Which is fantastic when you’re coming back from surfing, but sucks when you’ve just finished a long bus ride.

Candy Surf’s outdoor shower room. SCREAMfmLondon

Very outdoors. SCREAMfmLondon

But, anyway, we didn’t come here to shower! We came to surf!

I have always, always dreamed of being a surfer and living in a chill beach house in Santa Cruz with all my surfer friends. But I somehow never got around to trying it in California.

I know Korea doesn’t immediately come to mind as a surf destination, but some of the Korean beaches are really hidden gems. As we woke up for our surfing lesson, the whole town of Yangyang was buzzing with talk about the great waves that were expected that day.

Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

First, we got suited up. Changing into a wetsuit is a whole process in itself. It’s like putting on full-body yoga pants. Once I got my legs in properly, I stood up to take a break, already sweating and breathing heavily. I kind of don’t understand how actual surfers do this quickly without getting it twisted around themselves a dozen times.

A supply of wetsuits at Candy Surf. SCREAMfmLondon

When we were sufficiently clothed, we went inside to view a slideshow presentation on some of the basics of surfing: don’t step on jellyfish, don’t “drop in” on somebody’s wave, don’t get caught in a riptide, etc.

And then we trekked down to the beach, during which process I realized that surfboards are really heavy?! I’ve always seen people carry them on their heads like it ain’t nothin’, but doing that hurt my head. But the boards are too big and unwieldy to carry in your arms without smacking people around you. Again, this ability must come down to surfer magic.

Let’s go! SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang is packed with surf instructors and their classes. We found our own spot to settle on the sand and practice some techniques, such as paddling and quickly standing up on the boards, before we got into the water.

Learning some technique with Shayna. SCREAMfmLondon

It wasn’t long before we were ready to hop into the ocean.

From the beach, I felt pretty scared. The waves looked huge, and the water looked frigid. As soon as I stepped close enough, a wave smashed me in the face and dunked me under. I gasped and consequently took a big drink of salty ocean water. Sputtering, I resurfaced and wiped the water out of my eyes, thinking, Oh, well. With that out of the way, the ocean didn’t seem so intimidating anymore.

Heading off on our big adventure. SCREAMfmLondon

Our instructor was a big help guiding and helping us all try to catch the waves. It was super fun, although actually getting up into a standing position on the board was pretty challenging. It was also difficult to get the timing down — when to start paddling, when to try standing, etc. — without our instructor yelling behind us.

I think with some more continuous practice, though, I could totally be an excellent surfer.

After a while, the instructor left to teach his next lesson, and we were free to play with the boards on our own. Despite feeling so apprehensive that morning, convinced I was going to embarrass myself and drown, I was really loving surfing, and I never wanted to get out of the water.

South Korea may not be known for its surfing, but my first surf lesson in Yangyang was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m so glad I did it.

Immortalized on the polaroid wall at Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

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Visit Korea’s coolest surfer town, Yangyang

A lone surfboard sits on the sand at Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

When my friends and I rolled into Yangyang around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, the cool sea air was almost as shocking to our city-girl systems as the dark and deserted streets. We stepped off our bus from Seoul and searched for our guesthouse among the storefronts — all closed for the night.

I guess we won’t be getting any dinner tonight, I thought.

“It is only nine, right?” we double-checked our phones for the time.

Yangyang’s streets are lined with surfboards and trafficked by bicyclists and skateboarders. SCREAMfmLondon

We finally located our guesthouse, but there were no signs of life there either.

“Hello?” we called. “Is anybody there?”

Rounding the corner, we spotted two employees. One was sound asleep, reclined in a massage chair. The other was lying beside him on the couch, sleeping with a magazine over his face.

“Hiiiiii,” we tried again. Magazine Guy stirred and began smacking Massage Chair guy to wake up and help us.

So, Yangyang seems pretty chill, I concluded as he drowsily checked us into our room.

Surf shops and guesthouses as far as the eye can see. SCREAMfmLondon

Surfers enjoy the clear water in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

The convenience stores were still open, though, so we bought some beers to enjoy at the wooden tables near the beach. We sat and talked for a few hours before something strange happened.

People started rolling by on skateboards and bikes. The taco stand next door flipped on its lights and opened its doors. A loud group of friends sat down outside of the bar down the road.

I finally understood. Yangyang wasn’t dead — it was just having its siesta before the late-night party started.

Cold but refreshing. SCREAMfmLondon

One of many surf schools in Yangyang that offer rentals, lessons and repairs. SCREAMfmLondon

The next morning, Yangyang was even more exciting. There are more than 20 surf shops in the small area offering rentals and lessons, and the beach was full of instructors teaching their students the proper techniques.

Everyone enthusiastically spoke about the waves in Yangyang — perfect for surfing, they said. The water is cold but not unbearable, and the beach popular but not too crowded.

Beautiful, clear water in Yangyang, South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

The primary modes of transportation for Yangyang residents: surfboards and skateboards. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang is such a cool, fully-developed surfer town, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been like this. Surfing is not something typically associated with South Korea, and the sport has been gaining popularity only in the past few years.

What’s a surf town without a burger shack? SCREAMfmLondon

Bikini Burger in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Busan’s Haeundae Beach is famously crowded in the warmer months, and there aren’t many surfable waves along the Korean coastlines. Yangyang is a hidden treasure for surf enthusiasts in South Korea.

Surfers enjoy riding the waves in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

All streets lead to the ocean. SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Aloha from Surfrise, a popular surf shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang residents are often dressed in wet suits or casual, beach clothes (ponchos, board shorts, etc.). Many of them even sport long hair and tattoos.

A man rinses off his board after surfing in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A chill coffee shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Walking around Yangyang, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in Southern California. Until you see the little old ladies hanging up their laundry, or taste the fresh kimchi (delicious!).

Hikers enjoy the view from the mountain beside Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Lush plants growing everywhere in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A trail beside Jukdo Beach leads up a mountain where we found gorgeous plants, a spectacular view of the city, and a breathtaking Buddhist temple.

A Buddhist temple in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Buddha overlooking the water. SCREAMfmLondon

The view from above Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Sorry, Seoul. We love Yangyang now. SCREAMfmLondon