Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Sometimes, arriving at 2am is perfect.

After catching a late-night bus from Seoul to Sokcho, Kiwi and I arrived at what felt like a late hour — until we saw more lights and neon than some areas of Seoul. The jovial beach area — combined with some younger vacationers — meant the place was surprisingly active long after the sun went down. The standard Western carnival games were around — everything from the classic basketball toss to BB gun shooting — and were pretty popular.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

A central shot of the main plaza. Stand here, and the beach is mere meters ahead; the bus terminal and your hotel is just a few minutes behind you.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Dome pensions, anyone? A blast from the 1950′s, perhaps — and within a stone’s throw of the beach.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

After doing reasonably well on the BB gun shootout, we were handed some Roman candles. These things were passed out like candy at parades, and the beach had dozens of people shooting off fireworks til late.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

The next morning, we awoke to spend a day on the beach. The coarse sand was a bit hard on the feet, so bring a pair of sand shoes or sandals.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

While getting an umbrella certainly isn’t an requirement, they’re on some of the prime real estate. For 13,000 won, you get the umbrella for the day — just pay your money, deposit your ID and get the laminated red-and-yellow tag.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

And now, for something completely unexpected — a small forest? Yep — not pictured nearby is a camping area with a few less trees and a few more signs of humans.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Walk down the beach (away from the overpriced umbrellas) and find plenty of open space for most anything the beach has to offer. The beach goes on for quite a long way in either direction — it’s just a matter of how far you want to walk.

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Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

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Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

As the waves grew bigger, people got more involved in trying to ride the waves. More than a few succeeded, although these two wiped out more often than not. This was the only ride I saw where both of them stayed in the boat after the wave had passed!

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Now this looks like fun! This thing catches enough air to keep you vertical, even though you start off horizontal.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

And then there are the fireworks. The convenience stores all sell them, as do a few larger shops offering everything from swimsuits to sun visors. It’s a shining example of how you can buy your way out of anything you forgot at home.

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea) - South Korea -

It’s a perfect way to spend a full day — relax, lay out on the beach, go swimming or inner-tubing, people watching, eating, drinking, shooting off fireworks. Beyond the immediate beach area, there’s a not much within walking distance beyond the hotels and restaurants serving the beach crowd. Not pictured here was a Viking ride (near the domes) and a batting cage — plenty going on to keep you entertained. When you’re ready to move on, there’s enough buses and taxis to make that happen.

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