There are five great areas of tidal flats (a.k.a mudflats) in the world, and one of them is the southwest coast of South Korea. I visited Suncheon Bay, which is the largest tidal flat in South Korea, and the 5th largest in the world. It is a tentative World Heritage Site.
Earlier in 2014, I had visited wetlands in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and I wanted to see at least once wetlands in South Korea so I could compare them all, and Suncheon seemed to be the most impressive (or at least the one most accessible to tourists).
After having seen so many wetlands in 2014, I could not help but wonder if Suncheon Bay would disappoint.
Well first of all, that clear sky, those white clouds, the green hills, and the wide, flat, reflective river offered dramatic scenery.
This scenery alone makes Suncheon Bay a worthy place to visit.
Wetlands are also generally cool because they have so much life – if you pause an observer your surroundings, you’re bound to notice something interesting.
There are various spots along the boardwalk where you can look down and see little creatures, such as crabs, in the mud.
Suncheon Bay is a habitat for many migratory birds, including the rare and endangered Hooded Crane (it’s estimated that there are only about 10,000 hooded cranes in the world).
I continued walking along the boardwalk.
The boardwalk for visitors crossings the river and the flat area to the base on of those green hills.
Visitors then hike up the hill (there is an ‘easy’ path and a ‘hard’ path) to see the views from above.
I reached an observation platform where I could see where the wetlands meet the sea.
I then got another look at where the river meets the sea from another platform.
And then I reached the final observation platform.
My eyes were really drawn to red algae, but the most impressive aspect was the sheer scale of the mudflat.
I also have not seen many rivers shimmer in the sunlight like that.
The islands in the distance also had a mystical appearance.
The clouds passing by left diffuse shadows on the sun-drenched countryside.
I know the sunsets here are beautiful (I’ve seen photos), but I had to catch a bus to downtown Suncheon, and then back to Gwangju City, so I had pull myself away and walk back to the bus stop.
This wetlands definitely exceeded my expectations. It really is wonderful to observe, whether to appreciate its ecological value, or to simply to enjoy its broad scenery. It’s one of the highlights of my South Korean odyssey.