Where do I even begin?
Jekyll Island is the most picturesque, upscale, southern island village I’ve ever experienced. Picture cafes filled with coffee drinking professionals, typing away on their laptops while glancing over their screen to the Atlantic Ocean. Families riding around the village on bikes, stopping for ice cream. Pristine beaches without an ounce of plastic in site, with birds walking freely along the unsoiled shores. Locals gathering in their Southern Charm tee-shirts at the coffee shop. Vacationers becoming friends in the pub, cheering on their favorite teams. Jekyll Island is the quintessential, 50’s style, American dream, just in 2020.
Now that you got the image in your mind, let me tell you a few facts and the logistics of the island:
- Jekyll Island is one of the four Golden Isles – a set of barrier islands (and mainlaind city, Brunswick) off the Georgia coast, famous for their culture and beauty.
- The islands are halfway between two major cities – Jacksonville and Savannah – both about an hour and a half away makes these islands the perfect weekend getaway.
- Jekyll Island itself, is full of rich history and environmental and scientific progress.
- Jekyll Island is a vacationers paradise, but this island is also home to between 500 and 1000 residents that get to live under the mossy oaks and views of the Atlantic waves.
If you want to revisit history, Jekyll Island is the place for you. If you want to have an outdoor adventure, Jekyll Island is the place for you. If you want to learn about the environment, Jekyll Island is the place for you. If you want to relax, Jekyll Island is the place for you. If you want to do it all, Jekyll Island is the place for you!
I only spent half a day here, so I’ll highlight what I did, and what’s on the list for next time, but trust me, if you’re only stopping by or spending your entire vacation here, there is plenty to do!
The eastern shore is lined with 10 miles of beaches stretching the entire coast. Each beach has a unique quality, differentiating it from the others. My picks for the beaches are below based on my own physical findings and what I’ve read.
We all know I love spooky season so I had to make a stop at Driftwood Beach. I spent way longer than planned – and got slightly lost – climbing the weathered and bleached trees and scouring the beach for the spookiest spot. Driftwood Beach is home to wayward trees lost amongst the great Atlantic and have found their way onto the beach at Jekyll Island. Since this is a common tourist spot, and the waters are full of trees, this beach wouldn’t be a great beach day, but, worth a visit.
If you’re looking for a typical beach day, you can hit St. Andrews Beach Park, at the southern tip of the island. This beach is perfect for families looking to have a picnic then hit the beach, hopping for a dolphin sighting.
Or a beach with less weathered trees and more sand and areas to run around – Great Dunes Beach Park provides people with a day of laying out in the sand surrounded by the dunes created by the beach winds. This beach is accessible straight from the village and runs parallel to a walkway with information about the wildlife on the island.
My last beach pick – solely due to my appreciation of Matthew Broderick – is Glory Beach. This beach is a typical beach, with a long boardwalk access from the soccer complex, but the real draw to this beach is that the Civil War movie, Glory, had a part shot on this beach.
History and Culture –
There are so many places to choose from, and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to explore the historical part of the island, but it’s definitely on my list for next time!
My top two picks – yes, due to spookiness, you can just start calling Tyler and I, Jack and Sally – are the Horton House and DuBignon Cemetery. In conjunction with each other, the Horton House is one of the oldest standing buildings in Georgia. The one time owner and military aid, Major William Horton, built this home in 1743. Attached to the house is the DuBignon Cemetery, where the one time owners, the DuBignons, are buried. You can learn more about the owners and their history while at the house.
You can also visit the Historic District and visit the DuBignon Cottage, the Skeet House, and Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum, to learn more about the history of the island.
Outdoor Adventure –
The islands is filled with parks, trails, playgrounds, and golf courses to have a day in the sun. During the summer months you can hang out at Summer Waves Water Park. There is no shortage of outdoor activities to do throughout the island. You can even rent a bike and ride around the entire island, taking detours to view whatever catches your eye.
You can take a trip to the Observation Deck or go on a Jekyll Island Boat Dolphin Tour in hopes of spotting wildlife out in their natural habitat. Or you can get more involved and head over to Tidelands Nature Center, to learn about the wildlife of Georgia in a hands on center. Then from the Tidelands, you can take a guided kayak tour and see all of the creatures you just learned about, out in the wild.
Jekyll Island is also home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. This center is home to most of the rehabilitating sea turtles within driving distance of Jekyll Island. The entrance fee helps pay for the center and turtle treatments, if you want to take it a step further, you can pay to adopt a sea turtle to help pay for their care. When you first walk through the center doors you will learn all about sea turtles, their habitats, types, and environments. Then you can head to the back porch area and see and hear about all of the sea turtles currently in their care. Be sure to wait and hear the presentation so you can learn all about what brought the turtles to their rehab center and sea turtle information.
After your island explorations, be sure to visit the beach village for a drink and a bite to eat. You can choose from beach facing cafes and bars or restaurants right on the main strip! Most places – if not all – have outdoor dining that is COVID-19 friendly and relaxing in the mild tempered temperatures of coastal Georgia.
The beach village is where you’ll find anything you need on the island, from a cup of joe to a beach floatie to a cute trinket to remember the island by.
Let me know in the comments below if you visited Jekyll Island or any of the Golden Isles! What was your favorite place ti visit on the islands?
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