Around an hour and a half northeast of Gwangju is Byeongsanbando National Park. It’s a gem! The park boasts luscious mountains, temples, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, salt farms, fishing villages, and tons of camping opportunities. Gosapo beach was the perfect spot for our first venture into the area, and we’re already planning the next one.
There are several enticing beaches along the coast here, but most were already overcrowded this weekend, and it’s not even June. We had planned to stay at Mohang beach, just 3km south, but it was packed. Less than 15 minutes down the road, we discovered Gosapo beach – a beautiful, long stretch of sand and pine tree-shaded campsites overlooking the beach.
I really appreciate a pop-up tent when there are kids involved! In Australia, we had a sizeable two-room tent that you could almost live in. It was wonderful! But, arriving at dusk with two tired and hungry little people (and let’s face it, two tired and hungry big people too), undoing a strap and having your tent pop into place is fantastic. We could be out of the car and into bed in 5 minutes if needed.
We’d stopped for a light meal on the way (in case kids were asleep before we arrived), but it’s not camping without a fire. So, we cooked some cheesy sausages on the grill and tossed a few foil-covered potatoes into the coals. Then we had to have toasted marshmallows on sticks, of course! A few beers and a pot of ramyun later, we’d had two dinners. Maybe three.
Compared to many camping spots in Korea, this one was calm and quiet, and we managed to have a relaxing evening and uninterrupted sleep. The next morning we found we’d left our loaf of bread at home, so Appa made us curry, rice, and boiled eggs for breakfast. When in Korea! Being right up on beaches edge was perfect. The kids dug in the sand and splashed in the shallows all morning, and we could keep watch from our campsite.
When to Go
When new groups started to trickle in on Saturday afternoon we decided to call it a day. If you’re visiting in peak beach season, I’d advise avoiding Saturday night, unless you enjoy a lively atmosphere, of course.
This is a paid site, and it was worth the 20 bucks not to have other campers try to squeeze their tents in around us. A somewhat eccentric guy was coming around on his bike collecting money; 20,000won a night. The council-run site at the entrance looks well maintained and serviced, but you need to book online in advance. Different people run separate areas of the rest of the beach, but they all looked pretty similar.
There’s a toilet block on the private camping area and another on the council-run site. Even if you are not staying on the council-run site and its a further walk, use their toilets! They are clean and well stocked with toilet paper. Nobody seemed to mind us wandering in and out.
There’s a shower block there too, but it was closed. I’m unsure if this was to do with Coronavirus concerns or that it’s too early in the season.
You can buy supplies at the small mart at the entrance and there’s a restaurant there too.
Fires are Ok, but, as far as I could tell, they weren’t available to hire so byo. The kids love collecting kindling, and the little pinecones littering the ground were winning fire starters!
Although Mohang Beach was a fail this time, we plan to go back in a few weeks when we can get up there on a weekday. It looked great, minus the crowds.
We also checked out Byeonsan Beach, hoping maybe to spend the afternoon there, but it was a sea of tents and chaos. We stayed for ice cream and got out of there. It made it on the list for offseason destinations, though.
Another popular spot is Gyeokpo Beach, home to Chaeseokgang Cliff. At low tide, you can admire the unique rock formations.
Yulpo beach is a bit further south but, if you’re coming from Gwangju, it’s a good, nearby spot to try.