Jekyll Island is the true essence of a southern hospitality vacation destination. This natural, coastal paradise island is also a state park. As a result, wildlife and humans can peacefully coexist.
Jekyll Island is one of the Golden Isles on the southern Georgia coast. With only an estimated 1,000 residents and their wildlife conservation efforts, this is an ethical wildlife travel destination.
Nature Lover’s guide to Jekyll Island
This is a top travel destination in the United States because beach and nature are the perfect combinations for family vacations. Here are a few reasons that Jekyll Island is a perfect weekend getaway for nature lovers.
Things to do
Jekyll Island has seven beaches. All of the beaches are lined with protected sand dunes which give the landscape a more natural vibe. None of the beaches are heavily populated with people. Although, the beaches to the south are more popular because of hotel locations.
Driftwood beach, which is located on the northern tip of the island, is the main attraction of Jekyll Island. Stroll the beach at sunset and be rewarded with stunning views. Guided horseback riding tours are available along this beach.
- Nature Trails
Jekyll Island offers many different lengths of walking trails. The longest pedestrian and bike trail winds around the entire island.
Tupelo Trail, which is .7 miles, is a favorite. This trail ends at Horton Pond, where visitors will easily see wild alligators, turtles, and birds in their natural habitat. For a longer hike, park at Horton House and walk Tupelo Trail to Horton Pond and back. There is a parking lot at Horton Pond if walking the trail is not an option for visitors.
Riding bikes around the island is the best way to discover what Jekyll has to offer. Bikes can be rented from 3 different locations. Rent individual bikes, family bikes for 2-4, or electric carts. Active bikers can easily ride around the entire island. Family bikes can ride through the beach village and the historic district.
Travel through a time warp when exploring the historic district of Jekyll Island. Watch croquet players compete on the front lawn of one of the oldest hotels where the rich and famous stayed in the 20th century. Experience a 70s vibe as exploring the cottages in the northern part of the island. To learn more about the history of Jekyll Island, click here.
Wildlife on Jekyll Island
- Wildlife Viewing
Expect to see many different kinds of wildlife on Jekyll Island. Alligators can be found all around this coastal environment. Horton Pond is a recommended place to safely view alligators, which may have babies visible. Other animals include turtles, birds, lizards, tree frogs, and sea turtles (if you’re lucky). If visiting during sea turtle season, bring a turtle safe flashlight.
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center
This wildlife rehabilitation facility is located in the historic district of Jekyll Island. Many different tours are offered at the center. There is a viewing window to watch rehabilitators in action caring for the sea turtles. This is a good wildlife experience that is offered indoors. Especially, if visitors need to escape the heat for a few hours.
When to visit Jekyll Island
Want to escape the crowds? Visit in early May or September. Sea Turtle nesting season takes place in May-August. To see hatching sea turtles, visit in August-September.
Island entry fees
$6 for a day pass. $28 weekly pass. Pay at entry or online.
Where to eat
Driftwood Bistro is a recommended family-friendly restaurant with many vegetarian/vegan options.
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