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The Best Things To Do on Jekyll Island, By a Local Expert

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

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If you’re looking for some of the best things to do on Jekyll Island, you’re not alone. At this point in the year, you might find that the beach is calling. If you need a break from routine and are ready to relax with sun, salt, and sand, consider visiting one of the many islands on the Georgia Coast. There’s plenty to see and do, and you’ll find beautiful, restful resort locations at all of the barrier islands. 

You’ll find Jekyll Island on the Georgia Coast. It’s one of the Golden Isle barrier islands and is considered part of Sea Islands. You’ll find 10 miles of white sand beaches and plenty to do on this small but charming island. Your vacation getaway awaits! Here are the best things to do on Jekyll Island.

The Best Things to Do on Jekyll Island

There’s so much to do on Jekyll. It’s a vacation destination that’s perfect for solo travelers, couples, and families. If you love the beach and natural beauty, head to Jekyll for the following attractions.

Visit Driftwood Beach

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island
Photo by Elan smith on Unsplash

Driftwood Beach is well-known on Jekyll, but you might have recognized it as a filming location for the hit series The Walking Dead. That’s not the only film that’s been made on Jekyll.

Film credits for Jekyll include The Menu, X-Men First Class, Glory, Magic Mike XXL, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and more! 

You don’t have to be a film fan to enjoy Driftwood Beach. It’s one of TripAdvisor’s “Best of the Best Beaches”.

This popular beach is named for the driftwood that lies weathered on the sand. It’s a notable location for photos in the area. This other-worldly beach is worth a visit when you find yourself on Jekyll Island. It’s a little off the beaten path but well worth a visit. 

Shop Beach Village

While you’re on Jekyll Island, you’ll want to shop Beach Village. Beach Village is home to many local shops and restaurants.

It’s also the perfect place to grab frozen yogurt on your visit. Supporting island tourism is a great way to help the local economy. Support small businesses at these one-of-a-kind destinations. 

Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Photo by Giorgia Doglioni on Unsplash

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is home to Georgia’s first center for the rehabilitation of turtles. The center also focuses on research, conservation, and education.

Enjoy a guided tour, beach walk, and the many interactive exhibits at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Nature lovers will enjoy a glimpse of these majestic turtles and learn more about conservation efforts in the area where sea turtles nest each year. 

Have an Adventure at Summer Waves Water Park

During the summer season, you can have an adventure at Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island. Enjoy floating around the park on Turtle Creek, jump into the wave pool, or have an adventure on one of the many thrilling water slides in the park.

There’s even a splash pad, making the water park fun for all ages. 

Visit Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum

Another fun stop on Jekyll Island is a trip to Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum.

Learn about the island’s indigenous residents, check out mid-century architecture, get your thrills with gilded age ghost stories, enjoy a trolley tour, visit Faith Chapel, and check out the unique Hollybourne Cottage. This is a must-see stop if you love history, architecture, fashion, and art. 

Take a Dolphin Cruise at Jekyll Island Boat Tours

Photo by Bertrand Borie on Unsplash

A dolphin cruise is a popular option for the whole family. Jekyll Island Boat Tours offers a 90-minute sunset guided dolphin tour. Enjoy this tour of the Intracoastal Waterway, beaches, and salt marshes around Jekyll.

You’re sure to spot bottlenosed dolphins on your trip in the area. Although the boat you’re on may be covered, don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen and bring water or snacks for your journey.

Play at Jekyll Island Miniature Golf 

Jekyll Island Miniature Golf offers fun for the whole family. There are two 18-hole golf courses — one for beginners and one for advanced players.

Enjoy a second game on the same day for half price or purchase an all-day pass. This is a fun stop, particularly if you’re traveling with younger children. They’ll enjoy the whimsical course at Jekyll Island Miniature Golf.

Just keep in mind that this stop isn’t just for kids. Adults can easily enjoy the fun that is mini golf at the course on Jekyll. 

Rent a Tandem Bike, Surrey, or Tricycle to Tour the Island

Check out one of the many bicycle rentals in the area for a tour of the island. Access bike trails on the island, in Beach Village, and in Jekyll Island’s historic area. This is one of the more unique ways to see the island and can be fun for the whole family.

Tandem bikes, surrey rentals, and tricycles may be available at some of the bike rental locations. See the island like you’ve never seen it before when you cycle the trails of Jekyll. 

Visit the Wanderer Memory Trail

On your visit to Jekyll Island, a key historic point of interest is the Wanderer Memory Trail – which was designated a ‘Site of Memory’ under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route Project.

The Wanderer was the last documented slave ship to arrive in the United States in November of 1858. It carried 400 captive and enslaved Africans. The majority of them were 13- to 18-year-old boys. 

The tour provides information about the survivors of the Wanderer, which ran aground while attempting to enter Jekyll Creek. Even if you aren’t a history buff, it’s important to remember history so that we’re not doomed to repeat it.

Taking the time to recognize the history of slavery in the South is an important way of honoring the memory of those who were enslaved. 

Golf at Jekyll Island Golf Club

Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the Jekyll Island Golf Club. The golf course spans the length of forests, marshes, and lakes.

You might even spot some of the island’s natural inhabitants. Watch out for alligators, deer, and osprey along the course. There are 63 holes over four courses to enjoy.

Tour the Horton House Ruins

Fans of history and architecture will want to visit the ruins of Horton House. Constructed in 1735, destroyed in a Spanish attack, and rebuilt in 1743, the Horton House can be seen today.

It’s on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the oldest tabby buildings in the state of Georgia. 

Relax at Great Dunes Beach Park or St. Andrews Beach

My absolute favorite thing to do on Jekyll Island is to visit the beach. Check out Great Dunes Beach Park or St. Andrews Beach for beautiful white sand beaches. You could spend an entire trip just relaxing on the beach.

Just remember to apply sunscreen and bring water to stay hydrated! Keep the beaches beautiful by packing out anything you bring with you. 

Go Horseback Riding with Three Oaks Farm 

Another option for your stay on Jekyll is a visit to Three Oaks Farm to go horseback riding. Enjoy a horseback tour of Driftwood Beach.

Three Oaks Farm also offers horse-drawn carriage tours of the historic district. They even offer a petting zoo for guests of all ages to enjoy. 

Visit 4-H Tidelands Nature Center

If you want to learn more about the natural tidelands of the area, look no further than the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center. The center offers guided kayak tours, canoe rentals, a live species exhibit, coastal ecology programs, and more.

Nature lovers and adventurers alike should make this a must-see destination on your trip to the island. 

Tour the Island’s Historic District

While you’re in Jekyll Island, you might want to check out the island’s Historic District where you’ll find 34 historic structures. It is one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the region. According to the tourism website

In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” Club members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field.

Rules on Jekyll Island

When visiting Jekyll Island, you’ll want to stay safe and respect the rules of the island. This is particularly important to keep the island and its visitors safe. Here are just a few tips to help you navigate your trip: 

  • You can’t use flashlights on the beach unless they are turtle friendly.
  • No motorized vehicles, fires, fireworks, cooking, grilling, or open flames are allowed on Jekyll Island beaches. 
  • Horseback riding is only allowed with a licensed vendor.
  • Do not bring glass containers to the beach.
  • You can’t use metal or mineral detectors on the beach. 
  • You can’t camp overnight. 
  • Stay off the sand dunes and only take empty shells or sand dollars from the beach. 
  • Be careful that you don’t disturb turtles or their nests.
  • Fill in sand castles and holes at the beach before you leave. 
  • Pack out whatever you bring in. Do not leave trash or belongings of any kind on the beach. 
  • Pets on the beach must be leashed at all times. 
  • No pets are allowed between South Dunes Picnic Area and 2,000 feet northeast of St. Andrews Picnic Area or on the sand dunes.
  • Pick up after your pet. Leave no trace behind.
  • No recreational drones are allowed on Jekyll Island.
  • Treat all wildlife with respect, and don’t feed them. Keep your space from wild, feral animals. 
  • Stay at least 20 feet away from any alligator.
  • All riders ages 16 and younger should wear bike helmets.
  • Keep in mind that drivers and cyclists have equal right to the road and use caution when driving.
  • Go single file on bike paths, and do not take motorized vehicles of any kind of bike paths.

You’ll find it easier to plan your trip when you know these rules in advance. You can have a great time on Jekyll. Just make sure you respect the local rules, keep the beaches clean, and help with conservation efforts by respecting local nature and wildlife. 

Visiting Jekyll Island

Of the barrier islands in the Golden Isle, Jekyll Island is one of my favorites. If you’re spending more than a day or two in the area, you can visit the nearby locations of St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore.

You can enjoy the natural beauty, diverse history, and ongoing ecological and historic preservation of the area. 

If you’re on a budget, a visit to Jekyll Island can simply involve a trip to the beach. Pack your lunch for the day, bring a cooler to stay hydrated, set up a tent for shade, and spend the day doing little more than building sandcastles, sunbathing, and swimming in the ocean.

Catch up on your beach reading, or simply self-soothe to the rhythmic rise and fall of the tide. There’s much to see and do in the area, but don’t overlook the value of a restful vacation where you see and do whatever is available at the beach and only at the beach. 

A visit to Jekyll Island can be a relaxing break from the outside world. With white sandy beaches and the soothing sound of the ocean, this beautiful island town is the perfect spot for your next solo treat, romantic couples’ trip, or fun family vacation.

Escape to Jekyll Island, and let the relaxation begin! 

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