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Sinsimo Islands offer a relaxing retreat: An hour from Seoul are beautiful beaches and peaceful forests

July 05,2019
The sign at Mo Island, known as Modo in Korean, is a popular spot to take photos. [LEE SUN-MIN]
Visitors to the islands ride motor bikes to navigate around Sin, Si and Mo Islands. A ferry that takes visitors to the island provides a good opportunity to play with seagulls. Baemiggumi Beach has many of artistic structures that allows visitors to appreciate the view of the sky and the sea together. [KIM KYUNG-KYU, LEE SUN-MIN]
Salt gathered from fields on the islands, right, is held in a covered area. Visitors try their hand at harvesting salt, left. [KIM KYUNG-KYU, LEE SUN-MIN]
There’s no need to look too far to find small islands that offer both beautiful beaches and tree-filled parks. Incheon’s Sinsimo Islands - a collection of three island named Sin, Si and Mo - are a 10-minute ferry ride away from the city, and offer attractions that one can rarely find while living in the country’s urban centers.

Out of the three, Si Island is particularly better known to many as one of its beaches was featured in the 2004 TV drama “Full House” starring actor Song Hye-kyo and singer-and-actor Rain, as well as the 2005 drama “Sad Love Story” featuring actors Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Hee-sun.

The romantic vibe of the island starts with the ferry ride - as long as you are not scared of birds. Prepare a bag of shrimp-flavored chips if you are looking to draw the attention of seagulls during your ride. If you hold up one of the snacks while on the deck of the ferry, the seagulls will fly towards you and take it right out of your hands. Be aware that sometimes the seagulls bite, and while it won’t hurt, the peck on your finger may startle you.

The ferry takes you to Sin Island first. The three small islands are all connected by bridges that aren’t too long. One can simply walk over the bridges within five minutes. To really appreciate and feel the sun and wind on your skin, it is recommended to rent a bicycle or a motor bike. Renting a motor bike may be the best way to feel a cool breeze on your skin while exploring the islands in the summer. It costs 15,000 won ($12.83) per hour to rent a single-person motor bike. For a motorized scooter, it costs about 10,000 won per hour, and a three-person bike costs 35,000 won per hour. It takes about four hours to bike around the entire area with occasional stops to take photos, have lunch and take a coffee break.

There aren’t many cars, so the roads are quite popular among cyclists looking for a scenic ride. The island isn’t very hilly, so riding around is suitable for beginners as well. As you ride around, you will pass by green farms, beaches, residential areas and salt fields.

When you arrive at Mo Island, get ready to take out your camera. Red letters spelling out Modo (Mo Island) create a fun spot to take a photo at Bakjugi Park, and visitors can hop on to the structures to show off where they’ve been.

Since the islands are adjacent to Incheon International Airport, you can also see airplanes taking off or coming in for a landing. There is a small hiking trail that connects the park to Baemiggumi Beach, where many artistic sculptures are located. Works by artist Lee Il-ho are on display and many of them seem to be inspired by human bodies. Some of the structures have a window out to the sea and the sky provides a perfect backdrop for your photos.

The hiking trail nearby provides the perfect shade after a day spent on the island drenched in sunlight. The trail is not too long or hilly, making it a good choice for people of any age or ability level. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

A handful of restaurants are available on the islands, selling a variety of dishes, including kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) filled with local seafood, as well as samgyetang (chicken soup).

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

To get to Sin, Si and Mo islands, travel to Sammok Harbor to get on a ferry. It takes about an hour to get to the harbor from Seoul City Hall by car. The 10-minute ferry ride takes visitors to the islands and there is at least one ferry per hour. The first ferry from the harbor is at 8:40 a.m. and the last one is at 9:50 p.m. Check the ferry schedule in advance as it may change due to inclement weather.