Georgia Barrier Islands: Jekyll Island
Credit: normanack via Wikimedia Commons


Where Is Jekyll Island?

Jekyll Island is a pristine little island off coastal Georgia in the United States. The closest town on the mainland is Brunswick about an hour south of Savannah, Georgia.

While there is limited development due to state of Georgia regulations, there are plenty of villas by the sea if you are looking for accommodations for an beach resort.

Jekyll Island History

While small, it has a rich history.  There is documented evidence of settlements going back to 2500 B.C.[1]

The territory changed hands from the Spanish, to the French, then to the English in 1733 when James Oglethorpe established the English colony of Georgia.[2]

The area takes its name from Oglethorpe’s friend, Sir Joseph Jekyll who was an English politician at the time.[2]

The territory became part of the United States in 1776 as part of Georgia when the colonies declared independence from England.

Through the centuries of occupation, the island remained rural and to this day, the state of Georgia limits the amount and type of development on the island. The island is 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, and most of the commercial development is on the Atlantic Ocean side, while the western part of the island remains a tide water, marsh area.[2]

In 1910, officials from the United States Government met on Jekyll to plan what was to became the Federal Reserve Banking system which is still in service today.

The territory was passed from private owners to the state of Georgia in 1947, and much of the historic elements of the island have been preserved by the Jekyll Island Authority. In 1950, the Authority actually brought prisoners to the island to get it in shape as a nature preserve for visitors.[1]

The authority populated the island with a prisoner's camp in 1951, and the prisoners prepared it for public use by helping with public works projects like sewage and drainage systems.[1]

The Federal Reserve was Created on Jekyll Island

Where is Jekyll Island?

Jekyll Island is one of the many barrier islands located along the Georgia coast.

Things to do on Jekyll Island

Georgia Barrier Islands: Jekyll Island
Credit: Ebyabe via Wikimedia Commons

Sea Turtle Nature Center

The nature center provides an educational opportunity which interactive exhibits, and a sanctuary for injured sea turtles. If you go during the summer months during the nesting season in June and July, you can go on a guided tour on the beaches. A nest is opened and dozens and dozens of tiny little turtles make the long journey across the sand to the beach. Once in the water, they are on their own.

Private Turn of the Century “Cottages”

By virtually anyone's definition today, these are small mansions, but to the super rich of the late 1800s, these getaways were called their cottage.

The Jekyll Island Club used to be a private club for the rich industrialist some of which you may recognize such as the Rockefellar and Morgan.[2]

From around 1900 to the start of World War II, it was bustling during the summer month with a who’s who of wealth during that era.[2]

Jekyll offers tram tours of some these mansions that still exist on the island.

Golf on Jekyll

There are four golf courses on the tiny island: three 18 hole varieties and one easier 9 hole par 3 course. Check out one of the three golf courses that are part of the Jekyll Island Golf Club: Oleander, Indian Mound and Pine Lakes.

All of the courses do have a dress code. Men and women must wear shirts with collars and sleeves. Tailored or knee length shorts are allowed, however, athletic wear is not.

Jekyll Island Beaches

Being a barrier island, Jekyll of course has long stretch of beaches including Driftwood and Glory beaches.

Glory Beach is actually named after the film Glory about the Civil War unit of black soldiers in the Union Army. Parts of the film were filmed in the general area.

One of the unique aspects of the ocean off the coast are the relatively shallow sea levels in the area which create large sand bars hundreds of yards off shore during low tides. It is not uncommon to experience long stretches of ocean that is only knee deep several hundred yards off shore.

Georgia Barrier Islands: Jekyll Island
Credit: Archedamian via Wikimedia Commons

Jekyll Island Water Park

There is a small water park featuring a wave pool, several large slides and a shallow area for kids complete with slides and water cannons. Tickets are available at the gate, or you can save a few dollars by purchasing beforehand online.

Address: 210 South Riverview Drive

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Jekyll Island Restaurants

There are lots of dining options on Jekyll, or on nearby barrier islands, with plenty of the best seafood restaurants.

The Driftwood at Bistro is one of the more popular restaurants on the island and is often very crowded during peak times so wait time can be long.  They feature traditional southern cooking and local seafood catches.

Address: 1175 N Beachview Dr

Another great option is the Grand Dining Room at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Yes, you can enjoy a meal here even if you are not staying in the hotel. However, it is a little pricier but it provides a great atmosphere for either brunch or dinner.

Address: 371 Riverview Dr

Welcome to Jekyll Island


Georgia Barrier Islands: Jekyll Island
Credit: Jo Jakeman via Wikimedia Commons

There are plenty of activities on this pristine island, but be sure to check out nearby Sea or St. Simon's Island which has a lot of shopping, restaurants and a much better night life.

I spent a week on the island over a decade ago, and it was a much different experience than some of the more touristy areas along the Atlantic or the gulf coast of Florida. There was not a lot of commercial development so if you are the type that likes a McDonalds on every corner, you will be disappointed.

But if you are looking for a quieter vacation with lots of undisturbed nature, then give it consideration when planning your next beach vacation.