Is it possible to visit a North Korean beach?

To think of North Korea might conjure up images of rockets launching and soldiers goose-stepping. No doubt these are accurate images and ones Pyongyang loves to promote but what about life outside the military? What about the lesser known parts of North Korea?

For me the country’s best attractions lie outside of the cities and thus outside of the full control of the watchful eye. They lie in the countryside, on it’s pristine coastlines and on it’s beaches.

Every summer thousands of North Koreans take to the beaches in their droves to do what all of us love to do at the beach. They have picnics, BBQs, play volleyball, swim and even sing karaoke. All perfectly normal you say, so what makes this so unique?

Ditch the minders

As you probably know, travelling in North Korea can be quite a restrictive experience to say the least. The beach is the one place where this notion goes out the window. You are literally dropped off and told to meet back in a couple of hours. Suddenly you have free reign to wander off, drink some soju with a group of Koreans to your left, have a BBQ with a North Korean family on your right or join in with random Koreans playing beach volleyball right in front of you.

Diving platform at wonsan beach
Swimming at Nampo Beach, North Korea
Playing volleyball in North east Korea

Wonsan & Nampo Beach

Losing the guides is especially the case at Nampo, our favourite seaside town. Nampo beach is only an hour and a half drive west of Pyongyang. On a summers day it is overloaded with North Koreans. They have multiple shooting games set up on the beach for you to try out. The ability to interact, socialise with guards down makes this for us, North Korea’s best attraction.

On the opposite coast you have the city of Wonsan. The area is undergoing major development and the North Koreans are hoping to turn it into an international seaside resort complete with the brand new Kalma Airport. Currently it has one of the longest white sandy beaches in the country. Chill here for the day, cook up a BBQ, do some karaoke and dive off the platform into the ocean. Just a normal day in North Korea!

Join us for a beach tour of North Korea during our Liberation Day Tour!

tourist at a beach shooting range on a north korea tour
Rocky road travel founder Shane Horan at the DMZ


When Shane is not endlessly writing award winning content for Rocky Road, he’s usually kayaking to and from work along Berlin’s River Spree.