Guide to Surfing the Wave Park in Seoul, South Korea: Tips and What to Know

Only a few days after getting SMILE LASIK in Seoul, I was back in the water surfing some consistent waves out at the Wave Park in Seoul. I didn’t even know this place existed here as Korea was not the first place on mind for surfing culture, but after hearing that I could be in the water and try the waves, and since I had SMILE surgery instead of LASIK, which only has a few days recovery time, I decided that I would go surf and see what these wave pools are all about. It ended up being a super fun day (1 hour session), but I definitely have some recommendations about what to expect and this guide will make it easier for you once you visit.

As a side note: I was super stoked to be able to surf a few days after my eye surgery. Check out the link to see a review of the experience and what to expect if you need eye surgery to see better.

Disclaimer: I was using a rental board and it felt like a boat. 42L and plastic fins. So although I don’t rip anyway, it also wasn’t the most performance surf I’ve ever done. Little barrels and some nice turns were fun enough for this time. Next time I’ll bring my best boards (check out Carl Schaper on the North Shore for the best boards) and hopefully it’ll be like in the videos you can see in Youtube.

Wave Park Info:

The Wave Park is located outside of Seoul, about 1 hours drive and 2 hours bus/metro away from the main city in a city called Siheung. I found that the bus took a long time on the last transfer, so if you have extra funds, then definitely get a taxi to take you the last 10km or less. It will only be a 10 minute drive from there, and there’s no traffic in this area, so it won’t cost that much. So again, catch two buses from outside Seoul main city and then catch a taxi to the park entrance. Use Naver Maps app for live/real-time directions (and not Google Maps in Korea).

Reservation and Sessions:

The park has two pools with a right and left wave. You can reserve for an intermediate or advance session using this site: https://www.wavepark.co.kr/main. This is recommended during the high season so that you can book a place ahead of time. The other alternative is that you go to the park and book a spot at the ticket office. I would only do that if you can see there’s a lot of spaces open and you have trouble reserving online.

The English on the website is workable and I didn’t have any troubles reserving or finding information about the park. The one difficulty is paying by card. Luckily this Chase Sapphire Preferred (and Reserve) card has never failed me when abroad. It worked on the reservation website. It’s also saved me from so many travel mistakes – either with cancelation of flights or not being able to pay with other credit cards. 

There’s only two sessions per day for the advance and intermediate level so you can either surf in the morning or afternoon. The advanced session is the last one of the day so the park closes after. There’s time to shower and get cleaned up after the session ends, but the wave area is finished by either 5pm or 6pm.

Crowd & Discounts:

When I went, and my impression as of the end of April/the cold season in Korea, is that this place is empty like a ghost town many days – especially during the weekdays. There were less than 10 people in the water at any time. Perhaps in the morning/midday session there’s more people. I went at the 4pm session so perhaps everyone else had already left. But that’s super good for you because then you can catch more waves and not be in queue on the takeoff zone. There’s apparently more discounts during the summer months and that’s when it becomes more busy, so keep your eyes out on those as it is $80 minimum per session.

Note that you can book a double session and that will cut the cost per session by a good amount. It may be worth doing because then you can use the boards, wetsuit and facility for a longer time. 

Rental Boards & Wetsuit:

The Wave Park has rental boards (not pictured). There’s shortboards that you can rent out for 15,000 KRW or $11 USD via credit card. They have a 42L and 45L boards that have a ton of float. They are good enough, but they are difficult to ride on the more advanced level wave because they are flat and don’t have enough rocker. 

You can also rent wetsuits for 10,000 or $7 USD. I think it’s reasonable price, but that’s in addition to the reservation, which costs 110,000 KRW or about $80 USD for an hour session. The water here is surprisingly cold. I think for an hour session you can get away with not using one but only during main summer time.

The Wave Session:

You’ll get about 20 waves in the hour session and they will have three different 20 minute segments within. So you’ll catch approximately 5-7 waves with one type of break/power, then they will switch it to a different reef formation. The more advance levels are the later part of the session, so the wave power increases in the later part. I didn’t know this info and when I started my hour, I thought the waves were kind of soft, but then when they switched the power on, the waves got bigger, more heavy and had better sections along the way, which was super sick to see. 

If you’re a beginner, they also have surf lessons. Be aware that the instructor might not have a high level of English, but they can push you into waves and yell at the right time to stand up. 

Other Tips & How to Get Around Inside the Facility:

The other foreigners I met at the park said that the intermediate level wave session didn’t have enough power and left more to be desired. I’d say try the advance session if you know you can handle it. It’s better to be riding the easier wave, than falling off the more advanced ones because each wave is costing probably $4 each. 

The location is easy to figure out, but inside the facility is slightly more difficult to understand. You’ll enter the east entrance and go down the escalator. Right in the middle is the ticket office. If you reserved online, then you can pull that email up and go directly to the gate entrance. They’ll give you a wrist band and you’ll use that to register for things like a wetsuit and surfboard. The facility is cash-less once inside so bring your Chase credit card to pay for the rental board and suit. Once inside, you can rent a wetsuit and then the locker room entrance is afterwards. The signage is in English so it’s easy to follow along. The wrist band will tell you which locker you have and this is electronically opened and locked up by putting it up to the lock. 

After changing to the wetsuit, you’ll go towards the Wave Zone and you’ll pass the area where you will drop off your used wetsuit. The used wetsuit area is inside the locker area, and you’ll drop it into a large wheeled laundry bin (like the ones that they use at hotels for beddings/sheets). 

You’ll go up a ramp and that will take you to the two Wave Pools. Up here on this level (see photo below), you can rent your board and also check into your surf session. They recommend going 15 minutes before it starts so that you can arrange getting a board and so that you have time to watch the safety video. 

The area closest to the middle of the two pools has a good current that brings you up to the take off zone. You’ll use that to paddle up to the start. Also, if you fall on a wave at the take off, then just hang onto your board and ride the white wash directly straight in. Don’t try to paddle back to the deep end because then the other surfers will have to wait. I.e. if you fall when standing up, then try to hug back towards the wall that you paddled closest too and that current will take you out of the impact zone and keep you out of the later surfers way. 

For Later:

I’m not sure if there’s rental boards from any shops nearby. I’ll have to ask some Korean friends if they can do some investigating. I’ve heard that at the Australian Wave Park, you can rent all types of boards including the premier performance ones like Al Merrick, etc. The Wave Park doesn’t have that yet, but maybe they will in the future. These rental boards bothered me a little bit, but that’s because I had been surfing in Maldives and Sri Lanka the weeks before and coming from there to these boards wasn’t the best transition. I’ll find out more info. Otherwise I’ll just have to fly with my own boards directly to Korea next time.

As a last note: thanks to the nice people at the Wave Park for helping. I got videos – the ones above and below – from some one at the park and they turned out really nice. I’d say try ask any one you see around if they can send you photos or video. Doesn’t hurt to ask. 

Hope you have a great time there!

Extra Tip:

If you plan on surfing multiple days or if you are flying out the next day or two, then consider staying in this Siheung Area. One of the blogs that I read recommended Seahi Hotel, which has potentially nice views of the Oido Sea front and good seafood restaurants nearby. 

Also, if you have more time, then you can try the free diving pool at the facility next door. It’s a 35m deep pool and looks crazy to swim in.

Location:

The Wave Park is located on the eastern end of the city, closer to Incheon Airport. When using Naver Maps, I would choose the smaller bus lines to get there. I.e. if you see a bus that does not have an ETA accurate arrival time, then do not use that predetermined route. I waited for a while at some bus stops only for the bus to either never show up or it did pass by, but I couldn’t read the numbers (it was a 4 digit line, but I didn’t see the numbers at the front of the bus). Instead use the 33 line or any line with only 3 digits as the bus number. 

The other option is that you catch a taxi from the second to last bus stop and skip the last bus which would drop you off directly in front/close to the Wave Park. I think this is simpler and will get you a better result. So catch the two buses from Seoul to get you onto this part of the city, then catch a taxi to take you the last maybe 7km to the entrance. The same process going back from the park. Take a taxi and have it drop you off to the second bus on the route you have in Naver Maps. 

I took the bus here from Gangnam and took three buses and it took around 2 hours total to get back, so plan on having a full day visit.

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