These temples are famous because they were home to some popular and wise monks who sailed with General Lee against the Japanese in the second invasion (1500's).
The temples were damaged by fires over the years and seen some reconstruction and repairs. They are not massively large, but are well maintained and peaceful nonetheless.
They do offer nice panoramic view of the old downtown and the bay below.
When you are in Yeosu, you can see many rocky islands and a few inhabited ones. But what few people know is that the area has hundreds of small islands. Each one has something unique from a tourist perspective. Some have rock formations, beaches, fishing villages, temples and one even has some prehistoric dinosaur connections.
It's a nice walk to and around Odongdo island where you can find a bamboo forest, a small botanical garden, a turtle war ship, some stone health therapy walkways- (a little painful if barefoot!) and a cute lighthouse. The coastline around the island is very rugged with lots of local fishermen.
I didn't stay but I found that the main beach in Yeosu, isn't much to talk abtou... but I saw a couple of beaches (one in particular with facilities) on the bus ride through Dolsando that looked great! Empty and nice sand. If that's what you're after- I'd try and check it out. I will next time I'm there.
There is a road/bridge attaching the mainland to Odongdo island. It's a nice place to walk around-- you can find a bamboo forest, a small botanical garden, a turtle war ship, some stone health therapy walkways- (a little painful if barefoot!) and a cute lighthouse. The coastline around the island is very rugged with lots of local fishermen.
On the southern tip of Dolsan Island is Hyangiram Hermitage. It's perched atop a boulder-strewn hillside overlooking the East Sea.
On the road to the temple, you will see some metal stairs leading up the side of the mountain. They lead to the mountain top where you will see some stunning views of the nearby fishing village and the East Sea.
This place is definitely worth being visited!
"The name means "a temple turning toward the sun". It is one of the four major meditation temples in Korea. Here you can see beautiful sunrises on the South Ocean." (http://www.expo2012.or.kr/eng/yeosu/tourist_attractions.asp)
General Yi was a great commander who battled the Japanese forces during the Chosun dynasty (I think...). Anyways, he buit "turtle ships" which had spiked steel shells, like a turtle, on top and long oars to row from underneath.
Replicas can be found in several places in Korea, but this one is in Yeosu. The inside of the boat is a museum and the entrance fee is something like 1000 won.
This particular one is located across the Dolsan bridge leading to Dolsan-do (do means island) and is next to the dock where the tour boats operate.
Also there's an old guy who will let you ride his old horse for 10,000 won or something. The horse looked like he had seen better days to me so I passed on the ride. But it was one of the few times I'd seen a horse since I've been here.
Hyangil-am is a small Buddhist hermitage on the southernmost coast of Dolsan Island (an island which is connected to Yeosu by a bridge and accessible by any of the buses in the 100's). The hermitage offers a beautiful view of the open sea, and your view of the horizon is only blocked by a few islands dotting the ocean. Supposedly, it is most beautiful at sunrise (it faces the southeast) where you can watch the sun slip above the horizon. Also, there is a small hiking trail that goes to the peak just behind the hermitage and continues beyond. The hermitage is beautiful, especially on a weekday when there are less tourists and you can just enjoy some peace, quiet, and beauty. The small town near the hermitage offers restaurants, convenient stores, bathrooms, etc. Entrance fee is 1,500 won for students, maybe 2,000 for adults, but I don't quite remember exactly.
Heungguksa temple is located at Mt. Yeongchwi. It was used for the training monk soldiers during the Japanese Invasion. The hiking trail takes around an hour to the temple, which is just short of the top (toward left border in the snap).
I heard the best beaches in Korea are toward the East. Yeosu is located towards South. So, nothing special about the beach. Many fishing boats can be seen around.