A Guide to Coastal Camping

As many great travelers can attest, some of the greatest vacations you’ll ever have are found close to home. So grab a tent and a backpack and run away for a few days. You don’t have to go far or spend much for an adventurous escape into nature Some consider camping in the Lowcountry to be some of the best in the world. Between the barrier islands and semi-tropical forest spots, it’s no wonder thrill-seekers flock to the coast.

Cumberland Island: Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island is a magical respite complete with marshes, forests and even wild horses. Campers can hike on 50 miles worth of trails, scavenge for shark’s teeth, drink wine, swim, build a fire or stargaze. For a more rugged option (i.e., no toilets and no filtered water), hike 5 to 10 miles into the island woodlands. Sea Camp Campground (which has fire rings, picnic tables and showers) is a little less rustic and is a good spot to see dolphins and manatees. Price: Ferry rides from St. Marys, Georgia, to the island are $20 per person, with a $4 entrance fee and options for backcountry camping ($2 per day) or sea camp ($4 per day). Limited to seven nights. What to bring: For backcountry camping, bring the works: pack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, rain gear, hiking shoes, bear bag, hiking clothes, water filter/water purification tablets, a book or journal, hand sanitizer, zip lock bags, bug spray, toiletries, a stove, whiskey, toilet paper, a camera and sunscreen. Ferry schedule: From March 1 to Nov. 30, the ferry departs St. Marys at 9 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. and Cumberland Island at 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Dogs? No. Insider’s tip: This destination books up quick for the ideal springtime weather. Rangers advise to reserve six months ahead. Plan in advance and be on the lookout for cancellations. Avoid summer camping altogether; mosquitoes will eat you alive. Plan a trip: Cumberland Island National Seashore, 101 Wheeler St., St Marys, Georgia, 912.882.4336, nps.gov/cuis

St. Simons: Take your pick from varying degrees of “roughing it” as you kayak and camp at diverse areas near St. Simons. Choose from two- to five-day trips along the Altamaha River, the Satilla River and Sapelo and Blackbeard islands. There are even options for a women’s only kayaking and yoga retreat! Spend the days paddling, observing wildlife and setting up camp. Price: Multiday trips include guides, kayaks and equipment, meals, permits, transportation and camping gear. Prices start at $275. What to bring: Sun hat, sunscreen, a water bottle, shoes that can get wet (like Tevas or tennis shoes), bug spray, camera, binoculars, sunglasses and snacks. Dogs? No Plan a trip: SouthEast Adventure Outfitters, Pier Village, 313 Mallory St., St. Simons Island, Georgia, 912.638.6732, southeastadventure.com