Jeju is South Korea’s holiday mecca, and sells itself as a place where you can slow down and enjoy the good things in life – nature, clean air, ocean, fresh fruit, restaurants, coffee…. As a result, Jeju has a plethora of unusual and intriguing cafes. Here are some of our favorites – we consider them among Jeju Island’s best cafés.
1. Coffee Curry Murmulda
This friendly café is in a very small town called Kosan-ri, on the western side of the island. It has a laid back, hand-made atmosphere – it’s the kind of place you might to expect to find in Byron Bay, Australia. It’s colorful, artistic and cosmopolitan with eclectic decor and wholesome food.
The husband and wife team that runs Coffee Curry Murmulda are super-friendly and welcoming. You can spot the cafe a mile away because it’s painted bright yellow and blue – quite different from the surrounding shops. The signs out the front are painted by hand with a collection of potted cactuses and ornaments outside. Inside, every space is jam-packed with photographs and momentos from around the world. There’s also a corner where they sell retro clothes and jewelry. The café is run by a former Seoul couple, Jo Changwoo, nicknamed “Captain” and his wife. Captain designed and renovated the café himself.
The coffee is great, and the curry delicious. It tastes homemade and sustaining. Captain and his wife cook it fresh while you wait and it’s jam-packed with vegetables – potato, pumpkin, eggplant and beans.
- Cost: W7,000-W9,000 curry
- Address: Jeju-si, Hankyeongmyeon, Gosanri 2249-6
- Phone: 010 8302 8894
2. Gonilda (거닐다) Café and Kitchen
Gonilda is a stylish café and kitchen conveniently in Changcheon-ri on the south-west of Jeju Island. It’s built in a renovated house and has a classy atmosphere and insanely good pizza.
If you’re traveling around the coastline by bike, Gonilda sits conveniently at the bottom of one the largest hills you’ll encounter. After tearing downhill at high-speed for ten minutes, you’ll be ready for a coffee and a bite to eat.
Gonilda is a renovated old house, though you wouldn’t know it from the outside – the exterior appears completely modern. It’s been beautifully rejigged; old wooden beams are exposed and polished to maximize their charm and the cement floors have been varnished. Large windows let in lots of light and views of the street and courtyard garden.
The main reason to come here is the food – well, the pizza really. It’s awesome. It tastes Italian, with a delicious wood-fired pizza flavor and texture. Best of all, they haven’t tried to make it “fusion” by adding Korean food like Bulgogi or Kimchi.
The pizzas are a little small, so order more than you think you’ll need.
- Cost: W11,000-W16,000 for a pizza.
- Ph: 064 738 8701
- Address: 870-1 Changcheon-ri, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jejudo, Korea.
3. Gonggan 153 (건153) Coffee Truck
Gonggan153 is a cute, pink mobile coffee truck making it’s way away around South Korea. It serves some of the best coffee, and you can chat with the owner who is traveling the entire country, collecting stories for a book.
So it’s not technically a Jeju Island café, but the owner regularly makes trips to Jeju Island with his pink coffee truck. Gonggan153 is constantly moving and could be anywhere in South Korea – but if you’re lucky enough to spot this bright pink coffee truck it’s worth stopping for a coffee. Kim Hyundu is a mechanical engineer who is taking a break from work to see the entirety of his country first-hand. The coffee truck, which he converted into a portable café himself, is his financial freedom and his ticket to making new friends wherever he goes. He could be anywhere in Korea when you find him as he travels wherever and whenever he feels like it.
The best thing about Gonggan153 is the coffee. It’s slow-standing hand-drip coffee and Kim Hyundu has varieties from all over the world including south-east Asia, Africa and Central America. We tried the Indonesian coffee and it was simply fabulous – earthy and nutty. We were having Bali vacation flashbacks. Hyundu Kim’s story is so interesting, we interviewed him for our latest film Jeju: A Bicycle Adventure – you can check out the film’s trailer here.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web: blog.naver.com/gonggan153 (you can check his current location, although it is in Korean)
- Gonggan153 Facebook page
4. Café Coji
A spacious and comfortable second floor café with delicious cakes and breads and great views of the sea. You’ll find it like a jewel on the edge of the drab little town of Songsan, on the Eastern side of Jeju.
Songsan Ilchulbong, a volcanic steam vent known in English as Sunrise Peak is one of the most popular tourist sites on all of Jeju – and for good reason, it’s absolutely stunning. At the foot of Sunrise Peak you’ll find the small hamlet of Songsan, which is a dull and unfriendly cluster of ugly houses, overpriced restaurants and trashy tourist rubbish. On the very edge of Songsan, near the harbor, this place is certainly one of the best cafés on this side of the Island.
Café Coji is a large place on the second floor of a modern building, set on a main road. It has large windows and great views of the sea and the nearby countryside. The chairs are large and comfortable and the tables spacious, it’s the kind of place you’d feel comfortable just relaxing with a book and a coffee.
They have a good variety of delicious cakes and breads – no strange creations such as “sweet garlic bread” or “strawberry jelly with ham rolls” here. The carrot cake was freshly baked, still hot and soft with loads of nuts, raisins, dried figs and carrot. The flavor was superb. Their signature “Ilchubong” mousse cake, named after the nearby mountain, was delightful as well.
- Tel:064 784 1005
- Address: Seogwipo-si, Seongsan-eup, Hando-ro 200
5. Café Param
A peaceful hideaway on the windswept coast road on the West of Jeju Island, Café Param, near Shinchan-ri, has good coffee, interesting food and tranquility in abundance.
Café Param is run by a young husband and wife team who moved to Jeju to escape the hustle and bustle of life in Seoul. The location of this café is just perfect. It’s on an empty, stretch of coast in a treeless landscape of stone-walled fields, dry grass and windmills. When we visited in the summer, the air was filled with the sound of grasshoppers and the rushing of the sea wind.
The café itself is a large white building, the interior is pleasant and cool – it has a nice breezy feel with lots of wood and blue and white walls. Try out their main dish – black pork hamburger steak – it’s very tasty and quite different.
If you fall in love with the place like we did, you can always stay in the guesthouse out the back.
- Cost: W9,000 Hamburger steak
- Phone 010 8520 0702 (English and Korean speaker)
- Address: 제주시 한경면 한경해안로 470 Jeju City, Hankyeong Haean Road 470.
For more information about travelling in Jeju Island, check out our new eBook and film about Jeju Island.
There are plenty of other great cafe’s in Jeju Island, just take some time to explore. One we’re excited to try out is Cafe Uncle Tony’s in Aewol for their fish and chips by the beach. Do you have any favorite cafes to ad to the list or own a fantastic cafe in Jeju Island? Leave comments below. :)