Visitor Information…READ ON…
Jekyll Island is the southern most island of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia. It is located about and hour and a half south of Savannah. We absolutely loved staying here and would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to visit a peaceful oasis, away from city life.
Because Jekyll Island is a state park, they do require a parking pass to enter the island. In 2020 the rate is $8 per day and $12 if your vehicle exceeds 8 foot tall. You can buy them online or at the entry gate onto the island. Bicycles and foot traffic are free; although, unless you are hitchhiking or on a bicycle tour, you’ll need to drive.
After buying a pass, parking is free on the island. Having a vehicle is helpful if you want to explore. There are parking areas around beach entrances and picnic areas; however these can fill up during busy times. Plan to arrive early to get a good spot. Jekyll Island is an easy island to navigate, as there are only a few main roads. If you have an automobile, you will have easy access to all parts of the island.
If you have the ability to bring your bicycle, do it. The trails seem endless, and it is the best way to absorb the island vibe.
If you arrive in a large RV with no towing vehicle, no problem. You can rent a buggy for the day or week to traverse the roadways. If you have a car, you probably don’t need one unless you just want to enjoy the island with the wind in your hair. Rent these at the airport and seat 1-6 people. Here is the website: http://www.redbugmotors.com (We didn’t rent them because we had a car. No endorsement.)
You can also get tours via trolleys. Here’s a site with information. https://www.jekyllisland.com/activities/lighthouse-trolleys-tour/
Driftwood Beach is an iconic treasure of Jekyll Island. It is a beach on the north side of the island and one of the most beautiful places in America to enjoy the sunrise. We thought it was incredible. The beach is strewn about with hundreds of pieces of driftwood. They were fun to look at tipped over on their sides from years of incoming wind and surf and are bleached from the sun and salt. They look frozen in their state of solitude. You can climb on the limbs, as children are oft to do, take pictures, and explore to your heart’s content. I enjoyed the peacefulness of the beach. If just want to sit and soak in the view, you can do it here. We highly recommend taking advantage of this natural seascape.
The beach changes drastically because of the tide. At low tide, you can walk out and around the trees, at high tide, the trees sit in the water. When you are on the island, you might want to check out the tide schedule. Here’s one from the Farmer’s Almanac https://www.almanac.com/astronomy/tides/zipcode/31527/
Getting to the beach is very easy. It spans from Clam Creek Picnic Area down to the Villas by the Sea Resort. You can reach the beach by parking at the Clam Creek Picnic Area or by parking on Beachview Drive North at the designated parking places along the road. It is also a very short walk from the Jekyll Island Campground.
Jekyll Island is home to more than 20 miles of bike trails that are closed to motorized vehicles. Some are sand and dirt, but most are paved. They wind around the island, and you can get lost, not literally, in the experience of it all. The Live Oak trees that canopy the trails are draped in Spanish moss and cascade down to add gorgeous southern charm. After miles and miles of riding in them, you will feel you’ve stepped into another world.
The path takes you through low country vistas where you can see the shore and wetlands. Be sure the visit the fishing pier where you can watch local residents, people and birds, fish and crab. There are benches along the way for sitting and taking in the views of the island or tables if you chose to take along a picnic. Shorebirds are plentiful. Several areas have long stretches of boardwalk to ride on and it is smooth and peaceful.`It is a birder’s paradise.
Be sure to stop at the Horton House on your ride. This is one of the oldest structures in Georgia and is on the National Register of Historic homes. It is made of tabby. Tabby is a mixture made through the process of burning oyster shells to create lime. This is then mixed with ash, sand, water, and broken oyster shells. The walls show evidence of the tabby process. This estate is home to Georgia’s first brewery. You can see the remains of it just up the road.
There is a walking/bike trail that goes behind the house which winds around to the Horton Pond where you can view alligators, turtles, and even fish. There is an observation deck overhanging the pond.
Jekyll Island was purchased in 1886, in order to build a winter hunting retreat. The club was called the Jekyll Island Club. The remote island became the playground for the wealthiest families in the United States. They enjoyed the mild winter climate. People like J.P. Morgan, Marshall Field, William K. Vanderbilt, and Joseph Pulitzer, to name a few, parked their yachts here for the winter months. The club was deemed to be “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” They enjoyed beautiful mansions, hunting, shooting skeet, golf, croquet, lawn bowling, horseback riding, bicycling, carriage rides, and a variety of activists where they could live “a life of elegant leisure.”
Jekyll Island is a historic site and relative, in modern times, too. In 1910, seven men met on Jekyll Island, in secret, to plan our country’s monetary policy and banking system. They formulated the beginnings of the Federal Reserve as America’s next central bank. Parts of the Aldrich Plan, named after Senator Nelson W. Aldrich who organized the meeting, were included in the 1913 Federal Reserve Act.
Currently there are thirty-four historic structures located in the district. The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark is the largest restoration project currently going on in the southeast United States. It is 240 acres of grand homes, hotel, and other interesting structures including a skeet house, infirmary, and church. The grounds are beautiful. We enjoyed walking and biking around.
The island has the usual golf courses, putt-putt golf, beaches, water park, dolphin tours, etc. The restaurants offer fabulous seafood. We loved the Sunrise Grill, and their very tasty fried and blackened shrimp (not sponsored). We stayed at the Jekyll Island Campground in our Airstream and made reservations online. The campground is shaded. Therefore, most every site is great for summer camping.
The campground offers laundry facilities and bike rentals ($15 a day). There are several hotel chains on the island. The Jekyll Island Club Resort is open to the public and located in the historic district.
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