Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s southernmost barrier islands and is an ideal getaway from larger cities such as Atlanta, Savannah, and Athens. I recently spent 5 days on Jekyll Island beach getting to know the area, relaxing, and discovering all of the great things to do.
Things To Do in Jekyll Island GA, It’s ideal for families, couples, and tired students who haven’t taken a vacation in 7 months…oh, just me? Add Jekyll Island to your Georgia bucket list and start planning all of the amazing activities that this island has to offer at Saint Simons Island!
15 Best Things To Do in Jekyll Island GA Today
Jekyll Island is situated on Georgia’s southeastern coast. It’s about an hour and a half from Savannah, five hours from Atlanta, one hour and fifteen minutes from Jacksonville, Florida, and three hours from Orlando, Florida!
Brunswick, Georgia is the nearest mainland city, 12 miles away and about 25 minutes away by car.
Unlike the Pacific Ocean, Jekyll Island is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, so you’ll be greeted with warm water at jekyll river!
Take I-95 south from Savannah toward Brunswick/Jacksonville. Exit 29 for Brunswick/Jekyll Island. Continue for 5.5 miles before turning left onto GA-520 E (just before the giant white bridge) and continuing until you reach the Jekyll Island gates.
Take I-75 S out of Atlanta and follow signs to Macon. Take I-16 E exit 165 toward Savannah. Take exit 157A off I-16 E to merge onto I-95 S toward Brunswick/Jacksonville. Follow the directions above to continue your journey.
Take I-95 N to exit 29 and continue on GA-520 E for 5.4 miles from Jacksonville. Continue on GA-520 E until you reach the Jekyll Island gates.
WHEN TO VISIT & WEATHER ON JEKYLL ISLAND
If you want to lounge on the sunny beaches, the best time to visit Jekyll Island is from April to October. Temperatures in the upper 90’s (degrees F) are possible in July, August, and September, with lows in the mid-70’s. In April, May, June, and October, the weather is sunny with mild heat and fewer people at dolphin tour.
Visit during the off season, November through March, for fewer crowds and cheaper lodging. Expect highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s during the winter months. Beach activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, and photography are still available.
The summer months do bring rain, usually in the form of afternoon thunderstorms that pass quickly. Expect some rain, and remember to look behind you occasionally if you’re sitting on the beach staring at the ocean. There could be some ominous clouds approaching from behind you.
HOW MUCH DOES A VISIT COST?
Jekyll Island is great because it is reasonably priced for budget travelers, families, and luxury travelers alike. I’ll give you a cost breakdown for mid-range travelers like myself, where the main difference is that you’ll be staying in a hotel rather than camping, which is the cheaper option. I’ll also assume you’ll cook some of your own meals, whether that’s using the hotel’s free breakfast or bringing/buying groceries or frozen meals and cooking them yourself.
One important note: parking on Jekyll Island is $8 per day for the entire island. Because there is only one way on and off the island, you must enter through ticketed gates that charge a fee. This fee covers your parking on Jekyll Island. Select the number of days you will be on the island when you enter so you don’t have to buy a new ticket every day. Also, because Jekyll Island is not a state park, the Georgia State Park pass is ineffective here.
This budget is per day, with additional activity costs!
WHAT TO BRING TO JEKYLL ISLAND?
In the summer, you must use bug spray. If you intend to sit outside at your hotel, walk/bike/tour the island, or even cross some jungle area to get to the beach (as at Driftwood Beach), you must bring bug repellent. It is required. Buggables are what I use and they work great. Bring a bug spray just in case!
As previously stated, Jekyll Island frequently experiences afternoon rains. Bring a poncho or rain jacket.
If you plan to be on the beach at sunrise, sunset, or at night, bring a turtle-safe flashlight. You can’t use your phone flashlight because it’s dangerous to the sea turtles that live on the island.
Don’t forget your essential beach items, such as my favorite acne-prone skin sunscreen, an anti-sand towel, polarized sunglasses, a sun hat, your bathing suit, flip flops, beach tote, and an insulated water bottle! My picks are all under $20!
We packed foods that could be eaten at room temperature or heated in the microwave to eat in our hotel room. We purchased frozen meals from Trader Joe’s and also packed some non-refrigerator items. The key is to reduce the number of times you eat out to save money. Jekyll Island also had a grocery store called Jekyll Market, which sold basic necessities. They had ready-made meals, a frozen section, and a large selection of pantry items. Things were more expensive than expected compared to chain grocery stores, so plan accordingly.
A day bag is something else you should bring. I travel with my favorite camera backpack, which has a compartment for my camera + gear, tripod, water bottle, and other miscellaneous items.
JEKYLL ISLAND’S BEST HOTELS
While you can camp on Jekyll Island, hotels are the best option for lodging. There aren’t many Airbnbs unless you want to spend $150 on average.
The following are the best budget hotels on Jekyll Island:
- Days Inn & Suites, located on the southern end of the island, costs an average of $120 per night, but can be as low as $100 per night.
- The Seafarer Inn & Suites in the island’s center (Beach Village) costs $175 per night.
- Jekyll Island Club Resort is available for $168 per night.
- $150 per night at Villas by the Sea Resort
I know there aren’t many options. I highly recommend staying at the Days Inn & Suites! We paid $130 per night for a second-story room with an ocean view. They have areas outside to sit and gaze at the ocean, but this area is connected to the outdoor “hallways” that everyone uses to access their rooms. We still enjoyed sitting out there, and we could see the ocean from the second floor. Due to large sand barriers, you cannot see the ocean from the first floor.
They provided free breakfast, and the hotel room had a full-size mini-fridge (rather than the tiny ones found in many hotels), which was ideal for storing and heating many frozen meals.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN JEKYLL ISLAND
1. VISIT DRIFTWOOD BEACH
Driftwood Beach should be your only stop on Jekyll Island. Because of the massive pieces of driftwood that have washed ashore, this beach is unlike any other in the world. I’m not referring to pieces of wood or logs. These are full-fledged trees (very Lord of the Rings-esque for Lord of the Rings fans)!
You are welcome to visit Driftwood Beach at any time. Park along Beach View Drive, then take one of the paths that lead directly to the beach through the jungle-like barrier. There aren’t any obvious signs that I can see, but there will most likely be other people to follow. Otherwise, you can take any path and end up on the beach.
You can spend the day relaxing at the beach, arriving for sunrise or sunset to take some killer photos, or even stopping by late at night for incredible night photography.
2. Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Did you know Georgia has a sizable sea turtle population? Because I certainly didn’t! In fact, five different species of sea turtles nest in Georgia, and some of them migrate along the Georgia coast.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center rehabilitates injured and sick sea turtles while also educating the general public. Learn about how humans affect sea turtles in the wild, how you can help, and even meet some of the sea turtles at the Center! Admission is $10 for adults and $7.50 for children, with all proceeds benefiting the turtles!
If you come across an injured sea turtle on the beach, please contact the Center so that it can be transported safely and treated. More information is available here.
3. RENTAL OF BIKES
Jekyll Island is Georgia’s smallest barrier island, measuring only 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Biking is a popular activity with over 20 miles of trails winding through the beautiful marshes. There are three main places to rent bikes:
- Beachside Bike Rentals provides service to the Days Inn, Seafarer Inn, and Villas by the Sea.
- Jekyll Island Bike Barn has a large selection of bicycles, including kid-sized, tandem, and four-person models!
- Jekyll Wheels, located at the Jekyll Island Club, can also store your own bicycles overnight.
Bike rentals cost about $6 per hour for regular bikes and $12 per hour for tandem bikes.
4. ENJOY THE BEACHES
Aside from Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island has a number of beautiful beaches (naturally).
Great Dunes Beach Park was my favorite beach for swimming in the ocean because it had a sandbar! This meant that you could walk hundreds of feet out into the ocean and still be knee-high. You could easily sit on the sandbar and cool off in the ocean without having to struggle to keep your balance. Be careful not to go too far because the sandbar eventually ends and drops into the ocean current (keep an eye on your kids!).
Naturalists looking for wildlife will enjoy St. Andrews Beach. There is a raised platform for birdwatching as well as a shaded picnic area where you can try to spot dolphins!
Oceanview Beach Park has an ADA-approved deck with a view of the beach, as well as restrooms and showers.
Cosair Beach, which is located right next to downtown Jekyll Island, is one of the most popular beaches (called Beach Village). This beach is easily accessible if you’re out shopping or grabbing a bite to eat. There are also picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
Glory Beach has a long boardwalk that leads to the iconic filming location of the film Glory, which is about the Civil War’s first black battalion. Park near the Jekyll Island Soccer Complex (700 South Beach View Dr.) and walk through to the boardwalk. This beach is typically less crowded than others.
Finally, a word about the beaches. A private beach is usually available at hotels on the water. I stayed at the Days Inn & Suites, and we spent every day at their beach. We brought our own beach towels, but they did have umbrellas, chairs, and towels for rent. For specific beach information, contact your hotel.
If the beach conditions at your hotel aren’t to your liking, try one of the ones listed above! For some reason, the last day at the Days Inn beach was extremely muddy (maybe because of the rain). That’s when we discovered Great Dunes Beach, with its perfect water and sand! No mud!
5. GOLF AT JEKYLL ISLAND CLUB HOTEL OR KIDDOS MINI GOLF
Adults can go golfing at the Jekyll Island Golf Club in the island’s center. A full 18-hole course costs $70 to ride or $40 to walk. There is also a 9-hole course for half the price, as well as a driving range for $5 for 30 balls.
Families and children can play mini-golf on two 18-hole courses. Mini-golf tickets are $7 for adults and $5.50 for children ages 5 to 10. Alternatively, you can play all day for $16 (adults) and $11 (children) (kids).
Jekyll Island Golf Club is located at 322 Captain Wylly Rd (912-635-2368)
Jekyll Island Miniature Golf is located at 100 Great Dunes Ln (912-635-2648)
6. WATER PARK SUMMER WAVES
Tired of the ocean but still in need of some relief from the heat? Summer Waves Water Park is only $20 per person (or $18 if purchased online)! The lazy river, wave pool, water playground, and numerous water slides are all available.
210 South Riverview Dr. (912-635-2074)
7. MOSAIC MUSEUM ON JEKYLL ISLAND
The Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum tells the story of Jekyll Island. With many interactive exhibits and rotating exhibitions, such as one about the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, you’re bound to learn something about Jekyll Island!
Adults pay $9, while children pay $7.
Information: 100 Stable Rd (912-635-4036)
8. VISIT A COTTAGE
In 1886, Jekyll Island Ocean Club was established as an exclusive winter retreat. Its “members,” who included J.P. Morgan, Marshall Field, and Joseph Pulitzer, referred to it as a little paradise of elegant leisure. The grounds of the Jekyll Island Club include a number of dwellings that can be admired during a fun, historic walking tour. Most of them are not accessible, but the architecture is stunning! Among the notable residences are:
- Cottage Dubignon
- Goodyear House
- Hollybourne House
- Indian Mound House
- Cottage Mistletoe
- Moss House
- Marianna’s Villa
- Ospo Villa
Rather than a self-guided walking tour, the Landmark Historic Trolley Tour, which includes admission to the Mosaic Museum, Faith Chapel, and Moss Cottage for $20 for adults and $10 for children, is the best value. Click here for more historic tour options.
9. EXPLORE THE GOLDEN ISLES
Jekyll Island is actually one of four barrier islands off the coast of Georgia known as the Golden Isles. St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island are among them.
Each of these are enjoyable day trips from Jekyll Island. I recommend visiting St. Simons Island’s lighthouse and lighthouse museum at historic district. In addition, there is a noteworthy World War II Home Front Museum.
Each museum charges $12 for adults and $6 for children. If you plan to visit both, purchase a combined ticket for $20 for adults and $10 for children (a $2-4 savings per person). With ID, there is a $2 military discount.
101 12th St., Lighthouse Museum (912-638-4666)
4201 1st St., WWII Home Front Museum (913-634-7098)
If you’re not in the mood for museums, take a stroll down Avenue of the Oaks, a picturesque path lined with oak trees. Also on St. Simons Island, Fort Frederica National Monument is located further north and inland. It has a long history that dates back to 1742!
10. VISIT CUMBERLAND ISLAND FOR A DAY.
A coworker told me about this island with wild horses before I moved to Georgia (uh…what?!)! Cumberland Island is here! It’s another barrier island off Georgia’s coast, but it’s not a Golden Isle.
Because this island is completely isolated from the coast, it is not accessible by car. You’ll need to take a ferry from St Marys, Georgia. The ferry costs $15 per person each way (for a total of $30) and takes about 45 minutes. It only leaves St Marys twice a day, so you must make reservations.
For a more affordable option, try a self-guided tour by foot or bike once on the island. Alternatively, take the Lands and Legacies Tour, a 6-hour small-group tour that covers everything there is to see on Cumberland Island, including areas only accessible by tour at horton pond. It’s $45 per person.
11. GO CAMPING
I went to Jekyll Island things in the dead of summer with the intention of camping. The campgrounds are absolutely stunning, with massive Spanish moss-covered oak trees and a perfect location across the street from Driftwood Beach. We didn’t book a hotel until I remembered August in Georgia is hot and buggy (is that a word?).
Camping looks amazing if you have an RV or are visiting during a season other than summer! It’s also extremely affordable, with camp sites starting at just $32. Make your reservation here.
12. RIDING HORSEBACK ON THE BEACH
Nothing beats horseback riding on the beach for romance and beauty at St Andrews Beach. Because I am extremely allergic to horses, my travel experiences are limited once again. However, this appears to be a great time! If this is your specialty, please do it for me and report back!
Three Oaks Farm is the main horseback riding company, with rides starting at $65.
2 Clam Creek Rd. is the address (912-635-9500)
13. WATER ACTIVITIES
You can’t discuss island activities without mentioning water activities. Kayaking and paddle boarding are available for rent or on tours from the following locations:
- Tidelands Nature Center (4-H Tidelands – 100 S. Riverview Dr. – 912-635-5032)
- Paddle Company of the Golden Isles (call or text to reserve at 912-602-2470)
- Turtle Tides Jekyll (912-571-2567) (Boat Ramp, Jekyll Island, off S Riverview Dr.)
14. 4-H TIDELANDS NATURE CENTER
Visit the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center to learn about Jekyll Island’s ecology and wildlife. Touch tanks, aquariums, and displays are among the exhibits featuring live animals from the Georgia coast. Admission is $5 per person, payable in cash only.
15. ATTEND A JEKYLL ISLAND EXCLUSIVE EVENT
On Jekyll Island, many events take place throughout the year. Here are a few examples:
- January and February treasure hunts
- Turtle Crawl is a series of races held in March.
- November Shrimp and Grits Festival
- Every year, the Georgia-Florida Golf Classic is held on the last weekend of October.
- In November and December, there is a holiday celebration.
FAQs about Things To Do in Jekyll Island GA
What is there to do on Jekyll Island?
Activities on Jekyll Island Ten miles of white sand beaches, 63 holes of golf, an outdoor tennis complex, Summer Waves Water park, a fishing pier, Jekyll Island dolphin tours, horseback riding tours, nature centers, 20 miles of bike trails, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center are all available.
Is Tybee or Jekyll superior?
Both Tybee and Jekyll Island are beautiful and worth visiting, but they are very different. On Tybee, there is plenty to do and easy beach access from everywhere. Jekyll is a more tranquil island with a more mature population. Tybee police, in my opinion, are only strict when there is a reason to be.
Should you stay on St. Simons or Jekyll Island?
The beaches on Jekyll Island are superior to those on St. Simons. St Simons Island is no longer just a resort area, but also has restaurants, shops, a village, and a sense of community. East Beach is their best beach, and it is significantly smaller than Jekyll.
How do you navigate Jekyll Island?
Jekyll Island has 25 miles of paved bike trails that wind through beautiful marshes, historic sites, along the shore, and through maritime forests. You can ride your bike to the beach or to a restaurant, and the island is small enough that you can get pretty much anywhere you want to go by bicycle.