Enjoying Haeundae Beach as a family (and avoiding sunburns)

How we made the most of our early morning and evening visits in the summer heat

South Korea has been hot this August. There’s nothing quite like checking the weather and finding out that it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit but feels ten degrees warmer. Add a baby to the equation and such an extreme temperature can be cause for concern. When we decided to travel down from Seoul to spend a few days in Busan, I thought it’d be a nice chance for us to stay near the water.

While we appreciate beaches, they’re rarely the focus of our travel itineraries. I think Sean would prefer to walk along a beach for hours far more than sitting on one, and it’s been years since I’ve tried to get a tan. But when we saw the forecast for our time in Korea, I assumed we’d find it cooler along the water.

Our first morning in Busan, we ventured out from our hotel before 7 a.m. and could already feel the heat and humidity clinging to us. We walked down the promenade to the popular Haeundae Beach, while a good few people still out from partying the night before waved drunkenly at Eliza. She happily waved back from her BabyBjorn carrier. I had read that Haeundae is the most popular beach in South Korea, and I quickly saw why. A scattering of men and women were starting to set up for the day. There were hundreds of chairs and umbrellas already out, but not a single one taken yet.

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Early morning views of the beach

Even a year ago, I don’t think an early beach walk would’ve sounded all that appealing, but I’ve come to realize how precious those early morning hours are. Maybe I’m on my way to becoming an early riser?

Our walk ended up being so peaceful and quiet that we stayed out a lot longer than expected. At the western end of the beach, steps lead up to the Dongbaekseom Island loop, full of boardwalks and greenery. It was a fantastic, surprisingly calm introduction to South Korea’s second largest city. By the time we made it back to our hotel at 9 a.m., the beach was busier and the temperature was hotter. Eliza was in a great mood, and so were we. There’s something special about doing so much before most people even go to work and with less risk of sun and heat exposure.

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View of the Busan Gwangandaegyo Bridge on our walk. (You might remember the car chase scene on this bridge in the excellent 2018 film Black Panther.)
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Can you spot the wandering cat?

We stayed indoors during the heat of the day while the chairs and umbrellas on the beach went claimed by thousands of beach lovers. But that evening, once we finished dinner, we scampered outside again to see the sunset—and was it ever spectacular. We saw a few heads bobbing in the water, but despite the gorgeous evening and cooler temperatures, there really weren’t too many people on the beach. The nearby bars and restaurants were a different story.

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Cotton candy sky. No filter, promise

After reading so much about the beauty and popularity of Haeundae Beach, we both expected a larger, more expansive swath of beach. The towering buildings on all sides left the stretch of sand feeling enclosed, and the surrounding streets were busy in the height of summer. But given its proximity to the city and access to the green areas of Dongbaekseom Island, Haeundae Beach is well worth a visit when in Busan.

We saw yet again that it’s great to take advantage of the times most people are sleeping in the morning or out at dinner in the evening to maximize what you see and do. But then again, if you have an opportunity to sleep in, I’m not judging. There’s nothing more vacation-y than feeling well rested.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Liddy and Mike Olszewski says:

    Hope you are teaching Eliza the beach “ankle and below rule”!

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