From the road you can hear the roar of the waterfall beckoning you. When you step on the wooden boardwalk, the path is shaded and cool, lush with ferns and the earthy smell of the forest. After a short walk, you arrive at your destination: Won-Ang Falls, a split stream tumbling five meters into the deep blue pool below, the main attraction of the Donnaeko Recreational Area.
Sister Isabella, a Catholic nun who lives and works nearby, told a recent visitor, “There are two waterfalls: the small one is the woman and the large, the man. The water is very good for the body here. You should swim!”
The water, straight from Halla Mountain, is as cool and clear as ice, collecting in the deep pool for only a moment before continuing on its journey to the sea. Donnaeko is a wonderful spot for a summer adventure.
The rocks surrounding the falls can be climbed easily to reach a sandy spot perfect for sitting in the sun and leaving your bags. The pool is icy and deep in the center, but wading on the edges is tolerable to most. Most people walk along the edge to sit under the falls and let their stress melt away in the pounding massage from the heavy stream.
For bold, strong swimmers, a dive into the heart of the pool is extremely refreshing in the relentless summer heat, but be warned: it is so cold it will take your breath away. Relaxing on the rocks, hearing the music of the falls, or enjoying a picnic is also a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
It’s no wonder Koreans prize the Donnaeko waterfall as a place of healing and relaxation. Donnaeko is the sought after spot on Buddhist All Soul’s Day for the traditional of holding boys under the waterfalls and eating chicken. It is also traditional for women to bathe in the water on that day to cure neuralgia and generally as a panacea for ailments. The water is so clean and fresh, it will certainly soothe an over-heated body or a cranky mood.
The surrounding valley is also famous for the sheer beauty of its forest. It is a bounty of subtropical evergreens, Korean orchids, Hibiscus, winter strawberries, and a wealth of mushrooms and ferns, making it a great place for camping. A favorite campsite for students, it is equipped with sports facilities and tents are available for rent.
Buddhist All Soul’s Day is on the fifteenth day of the seventh month by the lunar calendar. This year, it falls on Sept. 3. Don’t wait until then to have summer fun at Donnaeko. Take the 5.16 road bus from the terminal and get off at Seogwipo Industrial Science High School. Walk up the hill for about 10 minutes and it will be on your left. There is a smaller swimming area without falls at the bottom of the hill if you require easier access