Walking to Ganworam Hermitage, a Part-time Island

IMG_0833Ganworam hermitage is a small hermitage located south of Seosan. At low tide, a walkway emerges from the water and visitors can walk to the small temple and buildings. During high tide, the walkway is underwater and it becomes an island! Needless to say, timing is everything for visitors of this place. Visiting was a last second decision for us- I saw in our fishing village of Samgilpo that the tide was very low in the morning, so the next morning, we set off! Getting there was relatively easy, we just followed the brown signs. From the main road, we did have to drive along a narrow one-lane road, around some construction, and finally up a small hill to a parking lot. From there, there is a short trail with steps down to the shore and the hermitage.


This hermitage was founded by the monk Muhak, the monk to King Taejo during the Joseon dynasty. The legend goes that it was here, in the moonlight, that Muhak found enlightenment.The name “Ganwoldo” reflects that, as “wol” is moon in Korean. Needless to say, it is a pretty important place! After descending the stairs onto the pebble walkway, we made our way over to the hermitage. Since the west coast of Korea is so tidal, the water was nowhere to be seen, but I made sure to watch and we crossed back over to our car far ahead of the time when the sea would cover the walkway.

Lots of driftwood Grandmas and Grandpas- protectors of the hermitage
Mini Buddha garden
Old tree with a newly painted building
Beautiful wall paintings everywhere!

IMG_0850Visiting Buddhist temples when there is a monk chanting and playing his woodblock makes the experience SO MUCH COOLER. I would highly recommend it! We seem to hit it just right to have the monks chanting while we are visiting… around 10-10:30. The atmosphere of the area completely changes from just a tourist attraction to something more spiritual. Landon even calms down and quietly explores the area.


View from the hermitage to surrounding islands


Fence post detail


Main temple building

IMG_0871 IMG_0873

IMG_0876Ganworam is a beautiful little hermitage, with tons of wall murals and fun, quirky details. I would recommend it for those living in the Seosan/Taean area, or those visiting for a few days as a place to come for a short visit. We lingered and explored for about half an hour, and that was more than enough time to spend here. We coupled it with a visit to Seosan Birdland, which is right down the road! This area, the Cheonsuman Bay region, is a wintering ground for many migratory birds. Birdwatchers in Korea- this area is a must-visit!


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