Oe-do island - A Paradise on Earth
Text & Photography ©Nayan Sthankiya
On assignment for Morning Calm, Korean Airs inflight magazine
On the Southern coast of Korea one can find "Paradise Island" referred to by its owners, more commonly called Oe-do. Boasting more than 1,000 different types of subtropical plants and other exotics. Oe-do is a nature lovers dream come true full with parks, sculpture gardens and Mediterranean-style buildings.
For some 30 years, starting in 1969, Chang Ho Lee and his wife Ho Sook Choi have cultivated a barren rocky island into a horticultural dream. Oe-do is reputed to be the first island in Korea to be owned and developed by private individuals. Opened to to the public in 1995, it has quickly become a popular tourist attraction among local Koreans and also foreign tourists. More so after it was featured in a number of Korean television dramas.
Oe-do is located in the waters of the Hallyeo National Marine Park four kilometers from Geoje Island. Boats leave for Oe-do from various ports around Geoje island, not at any specific time but usually when they are full.
Oe-do has something to offer almost everyone from sculpture gardens, classical European and Mediterranean architecture and even a giant dinosaur, highlighting the discovery of fossilized footprints on the island. All this discovery is punctuated by the sounds of classical music flowing through the trees and plants from speakers strategically placed throughout the island.
One highlight of the island is a red tiled church which overlooks the sea, reminding one of Spanish or Greek architecture. The church placed away from the regular foot traffic offers a quite place to sit and reflect or catch a quick nap before continuing on your exploration of the island.
The island also has two cafes where you can enjoy a bite to eat or a cool drink while looking out over the sea. From Castle Oe-do, on clear days you can almost make out the Japanese islands, while looking out over the rocky coastline and sheer cliffs.
Oe-do is a great place to spend a few hours or an entire day walking around enjoying all the sites and smells from the myriad tree's and plants on the island. Unfortunately there are no accommodations for visitors on the island, if you miss the last boat back to the mainland you might have to spend the night sleeping under the stars.