Part of me doesn’t want to write this post because I don’t want other people finding out about my favorite place to vacation, and the other part of me wants to show the world how incredibly beautiful my home-state is.
A lot of people don’t know that Georgia has a series of barrier islands, some of which are known as the Golden Isles, and they have absolutely beautiful beaches. What’s even better is that many of the islands were privately owned for decades and then bought by the state and protected, which means much of the islands are untouched and unsettled. If you’re used to over crowded beaches lined with airbrushed t-shirt shops, you need to get away from all the Spring breakers and head to the Golden Isles.
I have been on three of Georgia’s Golden Isles, and they are all beautiful, but my favorite is Jekyll Island. Jekyll was once a private island for executives including Rockefeller and Vanderbilt and now is a state park that is under a special preservation order but is still open to the public. Because it is a state park, there are very few hotels, restaurants or businesses in general (there are some though, if you want a totally protected, untouched island, go two islands down and get a ferry ride to Cumberland Island where there are wild horses and primitive camping only). The emptiness of Jekyll is much of what makes it so attractive. We spent three days on Jekyll Island in June and stayed at the Holiday Inn Beachfront, which I hate to share about because I don’t want it to always be booked up, but all of the rooms open right out onto the lawn which is along the beach. It is beautiful and the prices were really good. It has a pool, big cabana loungers that overlook the ocean, fire pits with fires at night, a nice boardwalk and bike paths that connect to other areas further down the beach, it’s own restaurants, and is known for having tons of Sea Turtle sightings during their laying season.
Just to give you an idea of how beautiful Jeykll is and how absolutely wonderful it is to be there, I took these photos of Brandon and the boys around 11 a.m. on one of the peak weeks of summer. We felt like we basically had the beach to ourselves. Pardon the quality of these and some of the other pictures from our trip, on day 2, Sawyer threw sand at my real camera and it didn’t work for four days…
Amazing, right? Not only did we have so much of the beach to ourselves, but the clouds and constant breeze meant we weren’t melting the whole time. These are at the beach at our hotel, but one of my other favorite beaches to visit at Jekyll is down toward the south end of the Island. The entire beach is lined with huge ancient Southern Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss. It’s dreamy. It also makes it so much easier for Mama’s with babies because you can have shade all day without dragging down a canopy or umbrellas and tents. It’s amazing. There’s also a huge rope swing just on the other side of the parking lot that we did with his cousins when we went a few years ago. It’s massive and swings so fast, I would say save that activity for teenagers or older. There’s also an amazing beautiful beach called driftwood beach that we didn’t visit on this trip. Just google it, it’s beautiful.
You do have to plan ahead some when you are staying on Jekyll because there are no big grocery stores and not many restaurants, and just as a heads-up there is a $6 toll per day to get onto the island. It’s a good idea to stop by Target in Brunswick on your way to the island if you will need diapers or snacks. There is a small convenience store/gas station attached to a Dairy Queen on Jekyll but the selection is small and everything is marked up a lot. It’s about 20 minutes into Brunswick, which is the closest places with big stores, which isn’t too bad of a drive.
Jekyll does have some really neat historic tours and tons of fun outdoor things to do like Kayaking and fishing and biking, but our kids were content to just
eat dig sand for days on end, boogie board, and swim.
The one thing that Sawyer had been looking forward to the most on this trip was hunting for shark teeth. All of Georgia’s barrier islands have shark teeth found on them, but some are easier than others, and some beaches on each island are better known for it. Usually the beaches that you’re almost guaranteed to find shark teeth on are not the soft sandy ones that you like to play on. Jekyll has one beach, Shark Tooth beach, that is amazing for shark teeth finding, but it’s quite the hike out there and with three small kids, it wasn’t in the cards. I’ll share another post soon about where we found shark teeth on our last day at the beach (on a different island) but here are some awesome shark teeth that my husband’s cousin found on Jekyll a few weeks before our visit. The large one is a Megalodon tooth, which was a shark that lived back when the dinosaurs were on the earth. I couldn’t believe how big it is-
Isn’t that insane? I totally caught the shark tooth hunting bug and am determined to get out to shark tooth beach next time we’re on Jekyll to try and find a Megalodon tooth. So cool.
For local restaurants, check out some of the online guides. Because we wanted to spend most of our days on the beach and didn’t want the kids to fall asleep in the car driving to lunch, we mostly ate food we brought, but we did have lunch at Tortuga Jacks, a delicious Mexican restaurant on the island with portions big enough to share. If you stay at the Holiday Inn, it’s just a short bike ride away.
We spent our last few days on our trip just one island up, on St Simons Island, and I will share all those pretty photos later, but I hope you are looking for a beautiful beach to visit, you won’t find anywhere prettier than Jekyll Island. Although, if you decide not to visit, that just means more beach for me, so I’m happy either way 🙂