CONTRIBUTED BY AMY HICKERSON
Are you looking for the perfect beach getaway for a long weekend, without having to worry about planning & coordinating flights? Well, then look no further because Sun Cruise Resort & Yacht right here on the East Coast of the Korean peninsula is the place for you!
I had wanted to go to this resort for a while now; I mean, how cool is a cruise ship turned hotel parked on a mountain overlooking the ocean?! As luck would have it, my husband needed to burn some leave days, so we began to plan a 4 day getaway. We were stuck booking something at the last minute, and none of the online booking sites showed ANY availability for this hotel or many others. I got a tip to just email the resort directly, so I tried that and Voila! I received an email back that yes, there was a room available!
The very next day we were off! (We do not usually wait until this late to book a vacation, but there were some circumstances out of our control working against us for a while!) It took us 5 hours to drive there, but the GPS originally said 3.5 hours. We did stop at 2 rest areas (*Quick side note: If you have never experienced a highway rest area in Korea, boy, are you in for a treat!), and hit a couple patches of very heavy and slow moving traffic. Otherwise though, it was smooth sailing all the way. (Our trip home took just over 4 hours.)
Upon check-in at the resort, we were personally greeted by a general manager, who also happened to be the person with whom I had communicated about booking the room. He got us all checked in and gave us several coupons to be used during our stay, offering discounts for water sports on the beach, or for a discount at the hotel restaurant. *Another side note: I asked my other friends who had stayed here previously if they received coupons. The answers varied. I believe we got the most since it was peak season and their “Hot Summer Festival” was underway.
Our room was very nice, large, modern, impeccably neat & a gorgeous view of the ocean! I peeked into other rooms as we traveled through the ship on other floors and all the rooms appeared to be nice as well. Room amenities vary….we only had a small refrigerator, but 2 other friends I know who have been here also had a kitchenette (range & rice cooker). Also, our room had a balcony (7th floor), but rooms on lower floors only had a window.
As we began exploring the resort and grounds, I was really happy to find that this was not going to be a letdown (you know how sometimes you really build something up in your mind, only to be let down by the reality?) after looking so forward to finally making it here. There are 2 “parks” to explore on either side of the ship. On the front side, there is a large sculpture of a pair of hands, which is supposed to be THE place to watch the sunrise (it looks like the hands hold the sun). We thought it would be fun to see this, until we found out that sunrise was at 5:27 am. Then we decided it would be more fun to sleep. In addition to the hands, there are other sculptures as well as some lookout points over the cliffs which make great photo ops!
On the grounds of the back side of the ship is a large pool (saltwater pool, and swimming caps are required), and another sculpture park with more lookout points. There is also a path leading down to the beach on this side, which, about halfway down the cliff, opens up to a collection of “Changsung” poles, which is really neat to see!
Down on the beach, there is a private section with parking available (we did drive to the beach….you can walk down, but it’s a hike back up!). There are umbrellas w/ beach chairs available for rent for the day. We were charged 25,000W with a 5,000W discount coupon. We asked about setting up our own umbrella but were told it was not allowed. We did notice though, that on the outer fringes of the beach, Korean families were setting up personal tents and umbrellas.
Also on that private beach, is a large tent that holds a small convenience store/merchandise market. Drinks, snacks, beach toys, etc are available here for very reasonable prices. There is also a variety of water sports and activities available on the beach. Kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, a speed boat tour, and a yacht tour are all available here. We had a coupon to do kayaking for free so we did that both days, as well as a coupon to do the yacht tour for free. The yacht tour was fabulous; highly recommend doing this! The highlight of our beach time though, has to be the zipline chicken delivery! You order it at the tent on the beach, and the chef sends it down from the 8th floor restaurant in the ship! It was so fun to watch! And the chicken is quite tasty!
If you do not want to do all of this, nor do you want to pay for a spot on the beach, a little farther down the road are public access beaches with parking as well. One bonus of the private beach…..even though the hotel was full, the beach never felt overly crowded.
Food when we travel here is always a concern to me, because I am a bit of a picky eater. This was not a problem at Sun Cruise. There are two restaurants on the ship which both offer Korean and Western options. In the lobby there is a bakery/pastry shop, and in the ground floor of the ship there is a convenience store with lots of drinks and snacks. The restaurants are a little pricey, but the food was delicious! The markets and the bakery were very reasonably priced. I felt like the prices were comparable to regular markets or bakeries. One of the restaurants does serve breakfast, but we did not go, so I cannot speak to that. I packed some foods for us to eat in the room for breakfast to save a little time & money in the mornings.
If you are looking for things to do off the resort, there are a few options. There is a very small town in the valley below the ship. There are a lot of seafood restaurants (the kinds with the fish tanks out front) and a few other parks in the town. We visited “Unification Park” which features a bit of naval history. There is a South Korean battleship available for exploring, as well as a North Korean sub that was captured in 1996. Also close by is a Buddhist Temple. We visited that as well.
I hope by now I have convinced you that this is a MUST for your Korean bucket list! We have been to Guam, Thailand, and the Philippines during our time in Korea, and our family agreed that this ranked right up there with all of those vacations!
Website: http://english.esuncruise.com/ The website is in English. Try calling or e-mailing them directly to ask about room availability!
Rates: Rooms range in price from 80,000 (standard room) to about 210,000 (luxury on a Sat or holiday) Prices available on website.
Address: 950-39, Heonhwa-ro, Gangdong-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Phone: +82-33-610-7000 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)