I absolutely love Georgia. I feel its one of the more underrated destinations, which is fine by me because its less crowded and doesn’t feel as touristy as some other southern locations that I’ve visited.
Jekyll Island is an island off the coast of Georgia and is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles. It is a protected island; only 20% of this barrier island is developed, so while there’s not a lot of man made fun here, nature has made up for it by providing some truly unique experiences. Here you will find uncrowded and unspoiled beaches. While most of the fun on this island is free of charge and provided by nature, you will need to pay a $6 toll to cross the bridge that brings you onto the island.
What to do
Jekyll Island is best known by its photographs of Driftwood Beach. Jekyll Island is a dynamic barrier island, which has helped create this beautiful beach. Go at sunrise if you want to catch the sun over the ocean and make sure to check the tide levels. In this area especially and on the neighboring St. Simon’s island the entire beach is usually swallowed up by the ocean by high tide – so check ahead of time. The tide sometimes comes in hard and fast, so be aware of it. The beach is littered with driftwood and eroded trees and is absolutely stunning.
There is no formal parking lot to access this beach, but there are multiple access points along the road that you can park at and walk to the beach. It can be tricky to find, however if you follow Beachview Dr past Villas by the Sea, you will see pull off areas which will lead you to paths to the beach. I recommend wearing shoes, especially if you go in the morning because there are tons of little crabs and other wildlife walking around on the beach, but also due to the large amounts of driftwood on the beach, shoes are highly recommended. Please note: prior to this trip, I researched this beach to make sure I would be able to find it and saw many people online comment that it had like 3 pieces of Driftwood….if you arrive at a beach with only several pieces of driftwood, then you are at the wrong beach. Driftwood Beach has full trees emerging from the sand, is littered with driftwood and is simply stunning. If you arrive at a beach that does not look like these photos, then you are not at Driftwood Beach.
There are other beaches around if this isn’t your cup of tea. Just drive along the main road until you find an area that you want to explore! There are parking lots that are pretty easily accessible from the main road. They are wild beaches so you can find some pretty cool stuff while beachcombing.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is another fantastic attraction on Jekyll Island. It is has a gift shop, educational center and rehab hospital where you can meet some of their current patients as well as the people who take care of them. They are very knowledgeable and provide a wealth of information about the sea turtle population in Georgia. This is a great place to stop, with or without kids and the cost of admission goes towards the rehabilitation of their turtle patients 🙂
Where to eat
There are few establishments here and we opted to bring our own food, but I have a friend that got married here a few years ago and he highly recommended dining Al fresco at Courtyard at Crane, which is located at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and at Driftwood Bistro at Villas By The Sea as well as Latitude 31, which is located on the Wharf and offers live music on the weekends during the summer. Next time!
Where to Stay
We actually chose to stay in Brunswick during our trip to the Golden Isles due to its convenience to both Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. We stayed at Country Inn and Suites there and it was great. For $80/night, we got a pretty decent free breakfast every morning and were about 10-15 mins from each island. There are a few hotels located on Jekyll Island if you’re strictly staying there but for us this location was perfect!
Georgia gets HOT. We were there in August and even with the ocean breeze, it was still about 100 degrees. If you’re northerners like us, be prepared. Even the sand got so hot at one point, we couldn’t walk barefoot on the beach.
Check the tide levels before venturing here. The tide comes in fast and if you’re on Driftwood Beach, the access points that bring you back to the main road are scattered throughout; make sure you’re close to one as the tide starts to come in!
Go at sunrise if you can! We only shared the beach with one other person, who was also there shooting sunrise and it was very serene and relaxing.
Be aware of the wildlife. There was a ton of wildlife roaming around the beach while we were there. Wear shoes and try not to disturb them!
There are other things you can do on Jekyll Island other than just explore nature. There are a few shops close to the Sea Turtle Center and they also have different boat tours available through Jekyll Island Boat Tours as well which leave from the Wharf. We didn’t have time to experience this but they have some great reviews online, so I’m planning to check them out next time we are in that area!