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Lesser Known Islands of the USA: Cumberland Island, GA

May 20, 2014 at 12:46 PM | by | ()

According to the calendar we’re just days away from the start of the summer season, and that means it’s time to turn our attention towards some great warm weather destinations. So get out on the water, wave goodbye to the mainland, and set you watch to island time.

What’s Cumberland Island?

There’s all kinds of great places to visit in Georgia, and many of the good ones line and dot the coast of the Peach State; however, Cumberland Island might just be one of the best. It’s the state’s largest barrier island, and as a result it has all the coastal goodies and treasures one would expect. Best of all it’s protected for years and years to come, as plenty of it is under the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam and the National Park Service.

How To Get There

Ferry travel is your best option, and thankfully the National Park Service operates its boat service to and from nearby St. Mary’s. Things stop at both the Dungeness dock and the Sea Camp Dock, so be sure to check out both areas. Ferry travel will set you back $20 plus another $4 for access to the island and national park facilities. Things leave towards the island at 9am and 11:45am, and then the ride back departs Cumberland Island at 10:15am and 4:45pm—these are the summer hours. Just note that you can get there from Florida too, as The Greyfield Inn runs a boat out of Fernandina Beach.

What to Do

Take in the sights and sounds of the sea, as the island is free from much development and commercialization. Expect your own piece of the sand and your own shade from the trees, as you look for a spot to set up before heading into the waters of the Atlantic. Hiking, camping, birdwatching, and biking are all options, and there are even ranger guided tours if you’re looking for something a little more official and educational.

Where to Stay

Luxury accomidations aren’t exactly the norm on Cumberland Island, but to us that seems like it’s part of the charm. With a reservation—and for a fee—you’re welcome to go ahead and setup a tent and do some camping. Alternateively, there’s the aformetnioned Greyfield Inn, but just realize that you’re going to spend upwards of $500 per night for the pleasure to do so.

Who Goes There

Those who enjoy daytrips to the island probably make up the bulk of the visitors, so you’re probably not going to rub elbows with the rich and famous. However, do note that the island served as the stage for the marriage of Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr. during their somewhat secret ceremony.

Where to Eat

You can eat anything you want on the island, but that’s only the case if you bring it with you. Unfortunately there’s nothing really available on the island, as food, drinks, bug repellent, and other goodies aren’t an option unless you bring them with you. There are a few spots to fill up your water bottle, so you’re good with that at least.

What Else

Can you say horses on the beach? Feral horses—known as the Cumberland Island horses—do their thing on and around the island, and estimates have their population at between 150 and 200. The park service doesn’t really have a plan for them, so they kind of just do their thing. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see them, but definitely keep an eye out.

[Photos: Mary Fairchild/Mfairlady and db rolenrock]

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