Jekyll Island: Explore Georgia's Golden Isles
Walk on the wildside on Jekyll Island.
To visit Jekyll Island is to engage in centuries of unique history and discover thousands of acres of protected wildlife habitat. Originally used as a seasonal retreat for indigenous Muskogean tribes in the mid-2nd millennium, Jekyll Island was later colonized by the Spanish, French and English. Following the demise of the plantation era, the barrier island became a getaway for some of America’s most prominent wealthy families, including names such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan and Pulitzers. Today, Jekyll Island is owned by the State of Georgia and boasts protected beauty and rich history.
Although travel and leisure activities have forced the hospitality and tourism industry to modify operations, Jekyll Island has adapted to accommodate guests during Summer 2020. Detailed information regarding popular attractions and operation changes can be found here. This year is all about outdoor adventure: pushing the boundaries of exploration and action while staying healthy. From lounging on romantic beaches to conquering 20 miles of trails — and everything in between — Jekyll Island is the perfect escape.
The Jekyll Island Club Resort is an awe-inducing venue not only because of its 130-year history and “millionaire mansions” but also on account of its evolution into a luxurious, accommodating resort. Originally constructed in 1888, the Island Club and Island Club Cottages embody elegance and leisure as a truly immersive upscale experience. The Ocean Club boutique hotel is the resort’s newest addition, featuring oceanfront suites and a beachfront pool deck. The resort has unveiled Your Island Sanctuary Experience which is the modified business plan detailing Health Department compliant strategies, including electrostatic sanitizing, social-distance friendly spacing and increased staff health policies.
A regularly updated list of open lodgings can be found here.
PHOTO BY BIKE DOCTOR
Jekyll Island offers an enhanced backdrop to summertime favorites such as golf and tennis. Trade your home venues for one laced with coastal wildlife.
The Jekyll Island Golf Club offers several courses with varying degrees of difficulty and scenery. With sixty-three holes and four courses, Georgia’s largest public golf resort provides the space necessary to maintain safe distances at all times. Navigate natural obstacles and keep an eye out for the alligators that call these courses home. The club is open daily with modified hours between 7:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Challenge someone to a match at the Jekyll Island Tennis Center, which offers 13 clay courts amidst live oaks and palmettos. Reservations are required for play during operating hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Kick off your shoes and hit the coastline at one of Jekyll Island’s enchanting beaches. Driftwood Beach offers haunting natural driftwood structures that make imaginations run wild. St. Andrew’s Beach is a captivating westward facing beach with a wildlife observation deck perfect for spotting critters or catching a sunset. Head to the other beaches to sunbathe on smoother sands or stroll the boardwalks. Visitors are limited to groups of ten or less with six feet of distance between, as mandated by the Health Department.
Although it is not currently the safest time to visit indoor venues, as many attractions are closed due to the global pandemic, many historical landmarks are still independently accessible. Investigate the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District, home of “cottages” evocative of stately elegance, formerly belonging to some of the nation’s most wealth and prominent families with historical summaries available here.
A popular site for intriguing, mysterious photography, the famously eerie Horton House has been adamantly preserved since its construction in 1743. The site also houses the remains of Georgia’s first brewery and the duBignon Cemetery.
Since Jekyll Island is owned and protected by the state of Georgia, about 65 percent of the island is undeveloped natural habitat. Explore 20 miles of trails by bike or on-foot. Saddle up and ride horseback through the forests and along the beach. Explore the tranquil salt marshes on kayaks and wrangle waves near and offshore. Charters are available for those looking for sport at sea: catch redfish, flounder, tarpon, sharks and more.