This is the most popular and beautiful of the islands west of Mokpo. Some 6km long and 2.5km wide, it rises precipitously from the sea and is bounded by sheer cliffs, bizarre rock formations and wooded hillsides cut by ravines. The island is ringed by islets and its sunsets can be spectacular, but the only way you can see most of it is by boat – with the exception of the villages, Hongdo is a protected nature reserve and entry is prohibited.

It is possible to climb the hill Gitdae-bong for views. There’s a small pebbled beach on the south of the island.

Ferries to Hongdo arrive at a sparkling new ferry terminal in Ilgu village, which is protected by a tiny cove. Boat tours (₩22,000, two hours, 7.30am and 12.30pm) are the best way to appreciate the island and its rocky islets and arches, though the Korean commentary gets a little grating. Towards the end of the tour, a small boat pulls up and fishermen slice up live fish into plates of sashimi (₩35,000).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Jeollanam-do attractions

1. Heuksando

12.46 MILES

Views of scattered specks of land from the peaks of Heuksando show why Dadohae Haesang means ‘marine archipelago’. This island, on the way to Hongdo, is…