Jeju Volcanic Islands and Lava Tunnels (World Heritage)

By | August 25, 2021

The subtropical volcanic island of Jeju is a unique landscape with lava tunnels and distinctive cave systems that document the volcanic processes on earth. The island also includes the Hallasan nature reserve, the highest peak in Korea at 1950 m, with its crater lake and waterfalls.

Jeju Volcanic Islands and Lava Tunnels: Facts

Official title: Jeju volcanic islands and lava tunnels
Natural monument: 188 km² site on the volcanic South Korean island of Cheju-do (“Island of the Gods”) with characteristic lava tunnels (magma channels with a “roof” made of cooled lava) and cave systems; three areas on approx. 10% of the total area of ​​the island: Geomunoreum with a system of five lava tunnels (with the Manjang Cave, which is over seven kilometers long as the longest lava tunnel in the world), Seongsan Ilchulbong with a 180 m high tuff cone formed from an underwater volcanic eruption, Hallasan shield volcano, at 1,950 m the highest mountain in South Korea, with Cheonjeyeon waterfalls, plunging directly into the sea (in three different sections) and a large crater lake
Continent: Asia
Country: South Korea
Location: 85 km south of the Korean peninsula
Appointment: 2007
Meaning: Unique volcanic landscape of unparalleled aesthetic quality; world’s largest ensemble of lava tunnels; outstanding source for studying the geological evolution of the earth

Magic of a subtropical volcanic island

For the Koreans, the beautiful island of Jeju-do is a mysterious, mythical island with numerous legends. Around 560,000 people live there. In addition, there are countless tourists, especially wedding couples, who want to relax on the palm-fringed sandy beaches of the 1847 square kilometer island, enjoy the wonderful nature – or leave their money in casinos and amusement parks, because the unpleasant side effects of tourism do not have before Jeju-do Stopped. Even so, the island was able to retain its natural beauty.

With a height of 1950 meters, Hallasan is the highest mountain in South Korea according to cheeroutdoor. “You can stretch out your arm and touch the Milky Way,” say the Koreans about the dormant volcano in the center of the island. Its eruptions once gave rise to the island off the south coast of Korea. Its last activities were observed 800 years ago. The summit of Hallasan is filled with a crater lake. With its 360 ash cones, the Hallasan forms a unique volcanic landscape. The mountain and its surroundings have been a national park since 1970. Over 1500 plant species and around 1100 animal species are at home there. The mountain looks particularly beautiful in May, when its slopes are covered by countless blooming azaleas – and in autumn, when the foliage shines in splendid colors. Hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty enable visitors to experience the impressive nature up close. They first lead through deciduous forests up into subalpine moorland with bamboo, grass, dwarf firs and azaleas.

The Seong-san Ilchulbong is one of the 360 ​​ash cones of the Hallasan. It is located on the eastern tip of Jeju Island. The tuff ring was created around 100,000 years ago by an underwater eruption and now rises 182 meters above sea level. Seong-san Ilchulbong was once an island. The natural deposit of sand and stones created a connection with Jeju Island. The volcano can be climbed in 20 minutes. Especially early in the morning, when the weather is clear, people hike up to the lava rocks in droves to experience the glorious sunrise over the Pacific. At the summit of Seong-san Ilchulbong there is a large crater with a diameter of 600 meters and a depth of 90 meters, but it does not contain any water because the rock is too porous. The crater is lined with 99 sharp rock peaks, which give it the appearance of a crown. Its south-east and north sides drop steeply towards the sea, but the south side of Seong-san Ilchulbong is occupied by meadows and bright yellow rapeseed fields. The village of Seongsan is also located there.

Five lava caves, which were created 100,000 to 300,000 years ago in the lava flows of the Geomunoreum volcano, are also part of the world natural heritage. The lava once made its way through the earth in large quantities and, as it cooled, created great tunnels and cave systems. The Manjang-gul cave has a length of 13.4 kilometers and is reminiscent of the anatomical structure of a gigantic snake. A stretch of one kilometer of the lava cave is accessible to visitors. The ceiling and floor of the corridors shimmer in the bright colors of the carbonate salts, while the walls are made of black basalt. One attraction is a seven meter high basalt column.

In the distant past, islanders used the lava rock to create statues known as Dolhareubang, which can be found all over the island. It is the patron gods of the islanders who protect their villages from demons and are supposed to ensure fertility. Since they resemble old men in terms of face, style and mushroom-shaped headgear, they have been given the name “stone grandfathers”.

Jeju Volcanic Islands and Lava Tunnels (World Heritage)