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Growing up on the southeast coast, I have visited my share of coastal island towns. Before we started RVing, I didn’t know much about Jekyll Island other than it was near St. Simons just south of Savannah, Georgia.
While searching for a campground for a much-needed week at the beach, I came across the Jekyll Island Campground. With various activities and an emphasis on history, trails, and wildlife, I knew this place would be a unique experience.
Here are some of our favorite things to see and do while camping on Jekyll Island, Georgia.
About Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles. A group of barrier islands along the Georgia coast, including St. Simons, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island.
Jekyll Island is a state park managed by the Jekyll Island Authority. Only about 30% of Jekyll Island’s 5,500 acres are developed. The Jekyll Island Authority works with the State of Georgia to make sure this percentage remains a priority.
As a state park, there is a parking pass required to enter the island.
Jekyll Island has a long and rich history, from its origins as a British outpost to the site of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. It wasn’t until World War II that it was sold to the State of Georgia and became the state park it is today.
FUN FACT: The book, The Creature from Jekyll Island, tells the story of how the idea for the Federal Reserve was born right on this little Georgia island. In 1910, a small group of the most powerful bankers in the world met secretly at Jekyll Island. If you are interested in the history of the banking system and are perhaps a bit of a conspiracy theorist, this is an interesting read.
With a roughly 25-mile bike trail system, there’s no better way to take in the natural beauty of Jekyll Island. We recommend bringing your own bikes, but you can also rent them from the campground store.
Golf carts are also common on Jekyll roads and can be rented locally.
Jekyll Island Campground
The campground is about 4.5 miles down the road where you enter the island and is located on the north end. The campsites are in the maritime forest of Jekyll Island, where the oak trees provide plenty of shade in the hot summer months. More on the Jekyll Island Campground
NOTE: If you visit between April and October, be aware there are likely ticks in the pine straw around the campsites. We were careful with Augustus when walking him around the campground (luckily, he is a white cat, so it’s easy to spot a tick on him!)
The Fishing Pier at Clam Creek
After arriving at the campground, we couldn’t wait to head to the Fishing Pier at Clam Creek. I hoped to catch a show-stopping sunset.
With the campground located only a half-mile from Driftwood Beach and The Fishing Pier at Clam Creek, it’s easy to pop over for a sunset or day on the beach.
You can jump right out of the campground and onto the walking path. As you wind your way toward the point, the giant oaks tower over, dripping with Spanish moss. Georgia’s style is classy and timeless.
You often get a peek at the sun as it falls closer to the horizon.
At the end of the road, the oak trees begin to clear, and the Fishing Pier and Saint Simons Sound are ahead.
One of the reasons I was drawn to buying a sailboat and embarking on that life is the allure of the ocean. The way the light dances on it, the way it smells, the way it sounds. The views at the Fishing Pier encompass all that.
To the right of the pier, you can start walking down the north end of Driftwood Beach. We even spotted a few dolphins surfacing right off the beach.
We walked along the water and took in every last drop of the sunset before heading back to the campground in the dark. (Don’t forget the bug spray!)
Bike Path to Great Dunes Beach Park
About four miles one way, Great Dunes Beach Park is a lovely bike ride from the campground. Here are a few things to know about the bike ride.
- A little over half of the ride is along the road until you can access the bike path.
- The last third of the journey is the bike path along the beach, where you can really soak in the sunshine.
- If you’re visiting in the summer, just be sure to pack plenty of water. Most of the path is not shaded.
When you reach the beach, the spacious picnic pavilions are perfect for enjoying a couple of cold beverages.
Great Dunes Beach is a wide-open beach. When we were there in mid-July, there were only a few people out soaking in the sun. The water is the perfect temperature this time of year. We enjoyed bobbing about and talking about our future.
This laid-back beach atmosphere reminds me of a T.S. Eliot quote, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
After your time on the beach, it’s just a short walk to the Beach Village. Here you’ll find fun coastal-inspired shops and, most importantly, frozen yogurt!
Driftwood Beach is located about half a mile from the Jeykll Island Campground. This iconic location attracts photographers year-round to capture one of nature’s dramatic scenes.
The first time we visited this beach was in the evening at high tide.
While watching the ocean beat against the weathered trees, the mood is a cross between romantic and slightly apocalyptic.
Years of erosion have made this slice of the Georgia coast certainly unique to behold.
I highly recommend visiting Driftwood Beach at both high and low tide. The vibe is remarkably different depending on when you visit, and both are unique experiences.
When we walked onto the beach at low tide, the sun was overhead, and the trees were drying in the mid-day heat. The stark white of the worn wood is a welcome contrast to the blue sky.
If you are into shelling, you’ll definitely want to hit this beach at low tide to round up some natural treasures.
NOTE: The tide table for Jekyll Island (and surrounding islands) can be found here.
To refuel in true Southern style, don’t miss Driftwood Bistro after a walk on the beach.
Located right next door to its namesake, you can indulge in fried okra (fried whole, not sliced), squash casserole, and savory shrimp and grits.
Raised in the south and schooled in Charleston, I had my fair share of “low country” meals when I should have been studying. Although this place might not look like much, I can confidently say it’s an authentic southern dining experience. I’ve also heard their catfish is to die for.
Birds and Wildlife on the Island
Jekyll is a fantastic destination for birders and photographers.
The numerous trails give you ample opportunity to photograph nature – from the local birds to reptiles and the magnificent oaks and palms. There are so many treasures to spot. Some are a little hidden or subtle, making them more exciting to uncover.
At the back left of the Jekyll Island Campground by the tent sites, you’ll find the Bird Sanctuary.
Even if you are not staying at the campground, it can be easily accessed from the road beside the campsites.
We visited this active birding spot during May. I was captivated by watching the birds as they ate, bathed, and went about their day. And it allowed us to get some great photos of these normally hard-to-spot birds.
Georgia is home to some gorgeous feathered creatures – from red cardinals to bright red summer tanagers and the colorful painted bunting.
More Activities Unique to the Area
With all there is to see and do on Jekyll, it’s hard to fit it all into the schedule. Here are a few more fun activities we hear about but haven’t experienced ourselves.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center
A must-see for all ages, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center offers interactive education on these beloved ocean creatures. This center is also responsible for rehabilitating many sick and injured sea turtles. You can even get a peek into the sea turtle rehabilitation center while you’re there.
The Horton House was built in 1743 by Major William Horton, who was in charge of Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island. This historic home’s beautiful weathered shell makes it a popular backdrop for photos and Instagram selfies. Horton House is one of the oldest tabby concrete buildings that is still standing in Georgia.
The Historic District
Originally the home of John Eugene duBignon, in the early 1900s, it became the famous Jekyll Island Club. Names such as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller were listed on the club member list. It was known as the most exclusive club in the world! In 1972, the club was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is the Jekyll Island Hotel and is open to the public.
Is Jekyll Island Worth Visiting?
We think Jekyll Island is absolutely worth a visit. It’s a perfect blend of the natural beauty found in state parks and the feel of a small coastal town.
Unique sites and an abundance of free activities make it a rare gem along the east coast. And its easy access from I-95 makes it a convenient stop on your trip.
This is an area we plan to visit again and again. With Jekyll Island, there is always more wildlife to observe, beaches to explore, and sunsets to savor.
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