Guide To Visiting Jekyll Island State Park

Jekyll Island is a 5,700-acre barrier island off the southeastern Georgia coast, and part of the picturesque Golden Isles cluster just minutes from Interstate 95 and Brunswick via the Jekyll Island Causeway. In 1886, the island was purchased by a group of millionaires for use as an exclusive retreat known as “The Jekyll Island Club.”

The Club sold the island to the State of Georgia in 1947, and in 1950 the Jekyll Island-State Park Authority was established to govern and manage the land, which consists of sand dunes, maritime forests, marshes, creeks, and salt flats.

The Jekyll Island Authority is a self-supporting state agency that serves as the steward of the island, overseeing natural areas and commercial operations, as well as promoting and maintaining the island’s amenities and 200-acre Historic District, including ten miles of beaches, golf courses, a tennis center, miniature golf, bike rental, the Summer Waves Waterpark, soccer complex, Convention Center, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, restaurants, picnic areas, bike paths, a boat ramp, a small airstrip, and a campground.

The Jekyll Island Campground occupies 18 wooded acres, with 179 campsites, bathhouses, a pickleball court, event pavilions, a bird sanctuary, and a general store. Today, the island serves as a popular site for recreational activities set amongst a canopy of live oaks.

The largely undeveloped area is bustling with wildlife, including a variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds living and breeding in the island’s salt marshes. Development is limited to one-third of the island.

Hiking And Biking

 

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Jekyll Island has more than 22 miles of scenic biking and hiking trails, providing an intimate journey into the natural beauty of the island landscapes. These paths are routed through a variety of natural attractions and historic sites, including sand dunes, beaches, and ancient oaks.

The Jekyll Island Trail System has a hiking path or bike trail for every type of explorer – even the furry kind! Bicycle rentals are available at Jekyll Island Bike Barn on Beachview Drive and Jekyll Wheels at Jekyll Island Club. Keep an eye out for tree spirits!

Kayaking And Paddleboarding

 

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The tidal creeks surrounding Jekyll Island set the stage for epic paddleboard and kayak adventures. It’s a fantastic way to explore the unique natural ecosystems of coastal Georgia! 4-H Tidelands Nature Center offers hands-on coastal ecology programs, guided kayak tours and rentals, and wildlife and marine exhibits.

Kingfisher Paddleventures offers eco-tours by paddleboard and kayak, rentals, and lessons for guests of all skill levels. Turtle Tides Jekyll offers kayak and paddleboard rentals, as well as guided tours on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and nearby marshes.

Fishing And Boating

 

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Choose from sightseeing tours, airboat rides, fishing charters, and dolphin tours through marshes or deep into the sea. A true fisherman’s paradise, Jekyll Island is home to redfish, sea trout, flounder, tripletail, tarpon, king mackerel, barracuda, and many species of sharks.

The Clam Creek Picnic Area offers a fishing pier, the Jekyll Island Fishing Center, and a bait and tackle shop with nautical gifts and beach gear rentals. The Jekyll Island Harbor Marina is a full-service resort marina and dry storage facility that offers amenities such as a pool, hot tub, courtesy golf carts and bicycles, beach cruisers, Wi-Fi, and an on-site restaurant.

Beaches

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Ten miles of beaches provide unfettered access to nature at it’s finest. Driftwood Beach, Great Dunes Beach Park, and St. Andrews Beach Park are favorite spots among locals and visitors alike. Named by USA TODAY as one of the best southern beaches for a weekend escape, Driftwood Beach is a unique natural area on the north end of the island featuring surreal ancient driftwood monuments.

This is also the site of horseback riding opportunities on the sandy shores. Great Dunes Beach Park is the most popular beach site for families. This 20-acre beachfront recreation area offers ample parking, easy beach access, picnic pavilions, and bocce ball and volleyball courts. St. Andrews Beach Park is a short walk from Jekyll Point, the southernmost tip of the island. It’s a popular spot for birdwatching with a possibility of dolphin sightings as well. All of these areas are also pet-friendly!

Historic Sites

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Historic points of interest abound on the island. The former site of the Jekyll Island Club now features 34 historic structures across 240 acres, including Villa Marianna, The Skeet House, Moss Cottage, Indian Mound Cottage, and Faith Chapel. You can peruse the entire district with ease on the guided landmark tram tour, which includes entry into two cottages and Faith Chapel.

Nearby, the Horton House is one of the oldest tabby buildings in Georgia, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A newer experience on the island, The Wanderer Memory Trail tells the story of America’s last known slave ship, the Wanderer, along the banks of the Jekyll River.

Sports

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Jekyll Island visitors in search of sports courts and ballfields can easily access well-maintained facilities for an array of hands-on sporting amusements. The 11-acre Jekyll Island Soccer Complex features five oceanfront soccer fields, restrooms, concessions, and ample parking.

Located across from the Atlantic Ocean Jekyll Island Mini Golf provides whimsical family fun against salty ocean breezes. For a more serious challenge, visit Jekyll Island Golf Club, Georgia’s largest public golf resort. Here, you’ll find 63 holes on four courses set among pristine lakes, marshes, and forests. The Jekyll Island Tennis Center is the recipient of the 2018 USTA Outstanding Facility Award. This public facility is home to 13 clay courts and a pro shop. The Tennis Center offers private lessons and hosts many tournaments throughout the year.

Family Fun And Education

 

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For family adventures you’ll find only on Jekyll Island, check out the Summer Waves Water Park and Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Open seasonally, Summer Waves Water Park is home to 11 acres of man-made summer fun, with water flumes, slides, and wave pools.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center is the state’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility in the state. The center offers interactive exhibits and experiences as well as educational tours.

Events

 

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In January and February, join in the Island Treasures tradition and scour the shores for one-of-a-kind glass floats. Springtime brings the Turtle Crawl races and the Jekyll Island Book Festival, while summer sees Independence Day celebrations like no other!

End the year with the Shrimp & Grits Festival and Holly Jolly Jekyll for a true taste of the Golden Isles culture. The Beach Village area is home to a wide variety of community events all year long.

Entrance Fees

Vehicle entry onto Jekyll Island requires a valid parking pass which must be purchased at the entry gate or Guest Information Center upon arrival on the island. This pass allows access to many public outdoor areas, including picnic areas, beach parking and access points, playground, soccer complex, historic landmark district, fishing pier, bicycle and nature trails and more.

A daily pass is $8, with weekly and annual options available. Bicycles and pedestrians can enter at no charge. Increased parking fees apply to oversized vehicles, and during the Independence Day Celebration and Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival.