Jekyll Island, GA (Part 1)

November 19 – December 18, 2016

We booked in for a month at Jekyll Island Campground in the lovely Golden Isles area of southeast coastal Georgia. The campground came well-recommended by one of the full-time RVers Margot has been following for years so we knew it was a good spot with lots to see and do in the area. One would think with a month’s worth of time, relaxation would be the main activity. Not exactly! Almost everyday we were out and about exploring and learning about the area. When we did stick around the campground, we were TCOB’ing (Taking Care of Business) like laundry, taking care of the odd rental property business, preparing music for Jam night, etc. 

Our site was lovely and spacious, especially considering it came with full hookups: electricity, water and sewer.

Our campsite at Jekyll Island Campground. Our first time camping with palm trees!
Our campsite at Jekyll Island Campground. Our first time camping with palm trees!

Even so, we showered at the comfort station since our “marine style” shower is so small, and we sourced our drinking water in town at the grocery store. We prefer drinking really clean tasting water and campground water usually has some strange after-taste. Turned out this was a good thing since a watermain blew the day after we arrived and the whole island was put on a temporary boil water advisory!

The island itself is 11 kms (18 mi) long, about 2.5 kms (4 mi) wide and has paved bike trails everywhere. It has 13 kms (21 mi) of beaches and a significant forested interior in addition to some residential and commercial areas. It also features an historic district with a grand old hotel called the Jekyll Island Club Hotel with multiple adjacent “cottages” which are really lovely mansions.

We thought it was great the put up your home province/state to their winter guests!
We thought it was great they put up your home province/state to their winter guests!

Long occupied by first nations for its bountiful coastline, from about 1790 the island operated a sea-cotton plantation run by 5 generations of the Du Bignon family. Then in 1886 it was sold to a conglomerate of the uber rich, the 0.1% of their time, as a winter retreat. Famous industrial tycoons with names like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, Carnegie, Goodyear and others spent most of January through early April here each winter: it was a private, invitation only, club retreat. By 1942, the younger generation had lost interest and the island was largely abandoned. The State of Georgia purchased the island in 1947 for $675,000, most of which went to settle out unpaid back taxes of the wealthy owners – haha some things never change!

The Jekyll Island Club, former hangout of the richest of the richest in America until 1942
The Jekyll Island Club, former hangout of the richest of the rich in America until 1942

The state of Georgia established the Jekyll Island Authority to manage the island as a retreat accessible to all. A gate fee for vehicle access to the island provides funding to maintain public areas and is well-worth it: the island’s parks, urban areas, beaches and biking trails are all beautifully maintained, creating a lovely environment for everyone to enjoy. The establishment of a campground at the north end of the island makes the island affordably accessible for overnight stays to anyone with a tent.

So what did we do for our month long stay? On island, we took advantage of the bike paths, cycling various parts, including all the way down to the historic district and back one afternoon.

On the Clam Creek bike path
On the Clam Creek bike path

Closeby the campground is the gorgeous Driftwood beach with the carcasses of huge old live oak trees alternately strewn across the water or the sand as the tide flows in and out.

The iconic driftwood trees after which Driftwood Beach was named
The iconic driftwood trees after which Driftwood Beach was named. You can’t take a bad photo here!
Posing on a tree on Driftwood Beach
Posing on a tree on Driftwood Beach

The fishing pier just a km down the road from the campground offers beautiful views, access to the beach and a paved bicycle pathway through the estuary filled with herons, osprey and ibis. Inland mid-island, a pond behind the old amphitheatre attracts 100s of herons, lovely roseate spoonbills and 10’ alligators! Nearby Horton Pond boasted 100s of turtles and more small alligators, while Margot spotted the island’s resident 12’ alligator on a lone bike ride.

Roseate spoon bills, black capped Night Herons and other herons at the pond by the amphitheatre. How many birds do you count?
Roseate spoon bills, black crowned Night Herons and other herons at the pond by the amphitheatre. How many birds do you count?
We estimated this alligator to be about 8 ft.
We estimated this alligator to be about 8 feet long.

More Jekyll Island Adventures to follow in Part 2.

 

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