Goraebul Beach (고래불해수욕장; map; aerial view) is an 8-kilometer-long beach near the top of Yeongdeok. It is one of the most famous beaches in the county and along the East Coast.
Its name translates to “Whale” (고래; /gōrāe/) “Fire” (불; /būl/) Beach. Why?
Yi Saek (이색), a teacher during the Goryeo Dynasty (918 ~ 1392), climbed Sangdae Mountain (상대산; map), looked out over the beach, and saw whales playing in the East Sea. The exhaling water plumes caught fire in the red rising sun. Hence, “Whale Fire Beach.”
Goraebul Beach boasts all the classic features of an East Sea beach:
- Soft sand with a pine forest backdrop and gentle 1.5-meter deep emerald sea.
- Public art with photozones, bathrooms shaped like ships, showers, and water fountains.
- Beach equipment rental, including beach chairs, inflatable tubes, and canopies.
- Fishing spots featuring rockfish, mackerel, and sea bream.
A giant metallic whale sculpture frolicking in waves and the Goraebul Beach Certification Center (고래불해변 인증센터; map) sit inside the beach’s parking lot. Convenience stores, seafood restaurants, and coffee shops form a perimeter around it.
If lucky, visitors can spot a pod of whales on the sea’s horizon from a walkup whale observatory on the north end of Goraebul Beach (map).
Goraebul Beach isn’t actually 8 kilometers long. It’s the northernmost beach in a chain of four back-to-back beaches. But because Goraebul enjoys the most renown, most visitors refer to the whole sandy stretch as “Goraebul Beach.”
The other beaches are:
- Daejin Beach (대진해수욕장; map)
- Deok Stream Beach (덕천해수욕장; map)
- Yongri Beach (영리해수욕장; map)
- Goraebul Beach (고래불해수욕장; map)
Daejin Beach (대진해수욕장; map), on the southern end, is the second most famous of the four-beach cluster. The shallow, 200-meter wide Song Stream (Songcheon; 송천; map) runs through the middle of the beach, letting visitors bath and fish in both salt and freshwater.
The four beaches around Goraebul forbid camping on its sands. However, each beach includes a campground tucked away in the pine forests behind them.
- Daejin Beach Campground (대진해수욕장캠핑장; map)
- Deok Stream Beach Campground (덕천해수욕장캠핑장; map)
- Yeongri District Campground (영리지구야영장; map) — free except for July & August.
- Goraebul Beach Campground (고래불국민야영장; map)
Goraebul’s campground is the best equipped. It includes a small water park for kids and an assortment of different accommodations, including wooden platforms for tents, electrified caravans, and pensions with kitchens.