Being a proud port city, Busan is home to a number of beaches, both in main city areas and in more remote areas. While the beaches have relatively few people on them in spring, winter and fall, in the summer, when the beaches open (July 1st to Aug. 31st) they are teeming with life. Haeundae in particular is very, very busy in the summers with hundreds of thousands of visitors each weekend.
During beach season (July 1st to Aug. 31st) lifeguards are usually on duty 24 hours a day. They are very strict about swimming times. Most beaches "open" at 9:00 am and "close" at 6:00 pm. Any attempt at swimming during July and August before 9 or after 6 results in one or more lifeguards blowing their whistles at you until you get out of the water. They are very strict about this policy during beach season.
In the off-season, there are basically no swimming rules. The beaches return to being unsupervised and you can swim as early or as late as you want.
Many of the beaches have vendors wandering amidst the crowds selling everything from fried chicken, to iced coffee to beer. So, if you're too lazy to go somewhere to get food or drink, wait a bit and they'll come to you.
In the summer the beaches (especially Haeundae) tend to be absolutely covered with beach umbrellas and bathing chairs. Each section of umbrellas is color-coded and you have to pay for your shade. Rates vary from beach to beach. Just look for the appropriate adjoshi to pay your money to. It can be as much as 10,000 won per day for an umbrella and there have been many reports of the umbrella guys trying to rip off foreigners.
During the fall and spring, both Haeundae and Gwangalli are popular with foreigners during the day for sports. There has been regular volleyball set up behind the Mariott Hotel (end closest to Talmaji Hill...away from Somyeon) in Haeundae on Saturdays and Sundays and you can also sometimes get a game at Gwangalli mid-afternoon on weekends. There have been regular ultimate frisbee groups as well who meet at both Haeundae and Gwangalli. Because of the summer crowds, though, most volleyball and frisbee activities are suspended during summer season.
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