Discover the Remarkable Free Diving Women of Jeju
Haenyeo are an integral part of Jeju's culture. Here are the places where you can learn more about these unique female divers.
- Haenyeo: Culture, History, and the Freshest SeafoodDiscover the Remarkable Free Diving Women of Jeju
If you know anything about Jeju, you have likely heard about the island's haenyeo. These are women that dive without any breathing equipment to harvest shellfish and other seafood along the coast of the island. Experienced haenyeo can dive up to 30 feet deep (9.1 meters) and they often spend hours at a time in the water. It is a practice with a long history, and despite many haenyeo now reaching old age, they still live and work on the island.
You can tell the haenyeo due to the distinctive black diving suits they wear and the bright orange floats they use when in the water. On land, they may be carrying a basket full of delicious seafood. If you want to take a deep dive into the unique culture of haenyeo, there are plenty of places to do so on Jeju. Here are some of our Recommendations.
The first step for anyone wanting to learn more about haenyeo divers should be the Haenyeo Museum. It is located in Gujwa-eup on the east side of Jeju—an area that still has a large number of divers. The museum has three exhibition rooms that contain information about the history, life, work, and culture of haenyeo, as well as plenty of historical artifacts that showcase how their lives have changed. There is also a haenyeo playground with interactive exhibitions to keep the kids busy.
Perhaps the best way to find out more about haenyeo is to go to a restaurant that serves food caught by the divers. You can find haenyeo restaurants, known as haenyeo houses, throughout the island in locations where the divers are active. One such place is Dodu Haenyeouijip, which is located on the coast a short drive from the airport. The restaurant is most well-known for its jeonbokjuk, which is rice porridge made with abalone, and mulhoe, a refreshing dish in which raw seafood is served in an icy soup.
Another option is the Haenyeo Kitchen. This is a restaurant in Gujwa-eup, just a short car journey from the Haenyeo Museum. Here diners are treated to an experience that is part meal, part performance. It is a chance to both learn about the divers, hear about their experiences, and eat food they catch. If you want to check it out, be sure to make a reservation beforehand.
- Address: 477-16 Jongdal-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
- Contact: 010-4056-5159
- Business Hours: There are sittings on Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 12 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.
- Admission: KRW 49,000 per person.
If you visit the coast in Jeju’s rural villages there is every chance that you will see Jeju Haenyeo at work. The divers also put on shows at various places around the island. One such place is Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, where you can watch haenyeo as they bring in their catch for the day. They then sell this freshly caught seafood at the Haenyeo House restaurant nearby.
- Address: 137-1 Seongsan-ri, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
- Contact: 064-783-0959
- Business Hours: Shows take place everyday at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Subject to change). The show has been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Admission: Free.
You can also see a haenyeo performance at Aquaplanet Jeju. The show takes place in the aquarium's main tank, which gives viewers a great view of how the haenyeo dive. It lasts around 20 minutes and there are regular performances throughout the day. You can see the exact times below. Aquaplanet is the largest aquarium in Korea, so there are plenty of other things to see and do while waiting for the haenyeo performance.
- Address: 95 Seopjikoji-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
- Contact: 1833-7001
- Business Hours: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The haenyeo show takes place at 10:40 a.m. 12:30 p.m. 2:10 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Admission: Adults KRW 41,000 / Teens and seniors KRW 39,300 / Children KRW 37,500
If seeing, learning, and eating isn't enough to fulfill your curiosity, then the only thing left is to actually take to the sea and experience what it is like to be a haenyeo. While you may not master the intense techniques that allow the divers to go to depths of up to 30 feet (9.1 meters), you'll have some fun in the water and may even catch your next meal.
Hado-ri is a village on the east of Jeju. At the Hado Fishing Experience Village they offer a haenyeo experience where you can don the famous black diving suit and go out searching for seafood. Once you come back to shore, the team will prepare the catch for you to eat. The experience lasts around an hour. If you would rather, the area also offers snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking experiences.
- Address: 1897-27 Haemajihaean-ro, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
- Contact: 064-783-1996
- Admission: KRW 35,000 per person for the haenyeo experience. The price for other experiences varies.
- Website:Hado Fishing Experience Village Official Website (Korean language only)
- ※ The above information was written on 2020-06-03. Please confirm the information prior to your trip.
- ※ Unauthorized use of the content above (text, photos and videos) is prohibited and subject to copyright by the Jeju Tourism Organization.