5 Fun Things to Do on Jekyll Island

Last Updated on July 17, 2022

Jekyll Island is one of the best places to visit in Georgia, and I love visiting the island each year for its quaint historical charm and coastal beauty.

Located south of St. Simons and north of Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island is Georgia’s smallest barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean. While Jekyll Island beaches are not really the pretty blue you see compared to the Gulf of Mexico, its beaches offer tranquility and something unique that you don’t see on many beaches – driftwood. With that and its historic homes, you can easily see why Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s gems.

While I’ve visited this island numerous times, I still haven’t done everything. However, these are my favorite Jekyll Island activities that I love to do each visit! Below are five fun things to do on Jekyll Island in no particular order.

Sunset at the Wharf, one of the restaurants on Jekyll Island. Shot on Pentax 67.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • It is not free to visit Jekyll Island. There is a small fee to enter ($8 per day, or $55 for the annual pass). And once you are in, the island is yours to explore! You can visit here for more information and updates regarding the passes.
  • Try to visit when school is back in session and avoid holiday weekends. There is one road to get onto the island, the Jekyll Island Causeway, and traffic can be backed up for miles when it is crowded. If you can arrive early in the day, the traffic is less likely to be backed up.
  • Most roads are two-lane roads on Jekyll Island. You will want to watch out for people on bikes and people walking.
  • There is a gas station on the island if you need to fill up your car’s tank. Also, there is a general store, Maxwell’s, to pick up convenience goods and souvenirs (Try to remember to bring these convenience items for your trip beforehand, as you will pay more for sunscreen, for example, if you buy directly on Jekyll Island!).
  • Jekyll Island has a Beach Village with a few restaurants and a small shopping area. There are also other restaurants located throughout the island, but you will not find many restaurant chains or franchises.

Five Fun Things to Do on Jekyll Island

1) Bike It!

Our last visit was when we rented bikes to see the island. Biking is hands down the best way to see the island. Jekyll Island is approximately 7 miles long and has many bike paths, boardwalks, and unpaved paths to explore. 

We rode our bikes through the historic district, down through Beach Village to the boardwalks near the beach, then down a residential road to explore an unpaved path that cut straight through the island. 

Things to do on Jekyll Island includes renting bikes to explore.
Digital image of us riding our Baja Cruisers on the boardwalk.

If you do not bring your bike, it is super easy to rent a bike for a day or a few hours. You can rent bikes at Jekyll Wheels Bike Rentals and Repairs, Jekyll Island Bike Barn, and Beachside Bike Rentals (rental can vary seasonally).

We rented 2 Baja Cruisers from Jekyll Wheels. I promptly named the bikes Baja and Chipotle. I know, very creative.

Bikes sitting outside the Crane Cottage.
Our Baja cruisers at the Crane Cottage. Shot on Leica M6.

The 2 Baja Cruisers were about $58 to rent for the entire day, but prices may vary depending on the bike you rent. This was our resort price since we stayed at the Jekyll Island Club Resort. But it is slightly more expensive to rent bikes from Jekyll Wheels if you are not a resort guest. It might seem costly, but it is worth it. You can view their price information here.

Jekyll Wheels has other bikes available to rent, but we selected the Baja Cruisers because the person we spoke with said it was a smoother ride. They were easy to use and comfortable, but I am not going to lie that I was sore the next day!

Remember to bring sunscreen and a hat along with plenty of water. We did this in early June, so the weather was mostly sunny but scorching and humid. I forgot to bring a hat, and even with sunscreen, I was baking in the Georgia heat and was the color of a tomato by dinner.

Also, pack light. The bikes were helpful because they had a basket to store items. For my basket, it held the Hasselblad and extra rolls of film. You can never have too many rolls of film.

It might be cheaper to bring your own bikes, but we decided it would be easier to rent them while we were there due to the hassle of having to transport ours.

Spanish moss on Jekyll Island.
It was a beautiful day for a bike ride under the Spanish moss. Shot on Leica M6.
Jekyll Wheels bikes near picnic tables.
Standing outside of Jekyll Wheels. Shot on Fujifilm Pro 400h.

2) Visit Driftwood Beach

Sunrise at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.
Morning visit at Driftwood Beach. Photo courtesy from Bill Manning Photography shot on Portra 160.

You cannot visit Jekyll Island without visiting Driftwood Beach. This is not ideal for a swim (for me at least), but the landscape is beautiful and unique. Each time we go to Jekyll Island, the scenery changes as the driftwood moves.  

Unfortunately, the hurricane that came through a few years ago took out some driftwood originally there when we first went to the island. However, it is still interesting to see the driftwood formations since not many coastlines in the United States have these unique features.

I strongly recommend wearing tennis shoes or something protective for your feet. It is effortless to trip over the driftwood or the many rocks. Kids will enjoy Driftwood Beach; you will often see them climbing onto the driftwood.

Our recent visit was rainy and cloudy, so my pictures are not the best. However, Driftwood beach produces impressive sunrise and sunset pictures when the weather is more pleasant.

Sunrise at Driftwood Beach.
Sunrise at Driftwood Beach. Photo courtesy from Bill Manning Photography shot on Fujifilm Velvia 50.

Visit early in the morning if you are there to get nice pictures; sunrise is the best since fewer people are around. It is harder to get a landscape picture without people in the frame as the day progresses. And this is a popular area where many people visit.

Also, look at the tidal times before your visit. There are many websites that you can search to view the tidal times.

Some seasons, especially the warmer seasons, have many biting gnats swarming on the beach. They are annoying little things, and they have no problem flying into your mouth as you speak.

The path near Driftwood Beach
The path at Driftwood Beach. Shot on Leica M6.

3) Take a Stroll Through the Historic District

I absolutely love history. This makes Jekyll unique; you can take a walk in the past through its historic district and then make your way down for a relaxing afternoon at the beach. And when you combine the beach and historical places on a trip, it is the perfect combination.   

Most of the Jekyll Island Cottages are great examples of the Victorian architectural style. In the late 1800s, some of the world’s wealthiest people, such as the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Vanderbilts, created a private hunting club and exclusive retreat on Jekyll Island. Out of this era came the many cottages seen throughout the historic district and the lovely Jekyll Island Club, now a hotel and resort.   

I recommend walking through the area to see the cottages; you can visit the exteriors, but some tours will take you inside. Visit here to see the different tours available.

We did the guided tram tour that packed a lot of history into 60 minutes and saw two cottages. We bought our tickets online, although you can also buy them in person. If you are like me and need to get seats at the front, arrive early in peak seasons to get your seats on the tram.

There is also a gorgeous little chapel, Faith Chapel. We haven’t been inside yet as it was locked the last few times we went, but you visit the chapel on one of these tours. 

The history of Jekyll Island is extensive, and I recommend checking out its history here. A recently renovated museum, Mosaic Museum, on Jekyll Island walks you through its historical timeline. We went there a while back but haven’t had an opportunity to visit since the renovation. Future plans, perhaps!       

A cat stands outside in the bushes at Faith Chapel.
We always seem to come across kitties on our trips. This beautiful tabby was seen outside the Faith Chapel. Shot on Leica M6.
Shooting film at Crane Cottage.
I was trying to figure out how to shoot a picture on the Hasselblad 500cm at the Crane Cottage.
Cherokee Cottage in Jekyll Island
Cherokee Cottage (part of the Jekyll Island Club Resort). You can reserve a room for accommodations. Shot on Leica M6.
Horton House
If you like historical ruins, you can walk, bike, or drive down to the Horton House, which is about a 7-minute drive from the Mosaic Museum. Built by William Horton in the mid-18th century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of Georgia’s oldest tabby houses. Shot on Leica M6.

4) Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a fun thing to do on Jekyll Island.
Outside the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Shot on Leica M6.

If you have children, you will want to add the Georgia Sea Turtle Center as a must-do on your list! I don’t have any children other than my cats, but we still enjoyed our time at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Opened daily from 9am to 5pm, it is the only rehabilitation center in Georgia for sea turtles. It is a great place to learn everything you want to know about sea turtles, from the youngest to the turtles who are decades old. And they also have educational programs and a research department that focuses on conservation. 

Inside the gift shop at Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Inside the gift shop area for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Shot on Leica M6.

The center isn’t too big; we visited for about an hour. Depending on what you do and how much you want to read and see, you can stay more or less.

There is a small learning center, a hospital pavilion, and a treatment room. The hospital pavilion has a few water tanks for the turtle patients currently undergoing treatments. Sometimes you can catch the vets and assistants helping a turtle or tiny hatchlings. 

Patient water tanks at the Georgia Sea Turtle Hospital.
Inside the Sea Turtle Hospital. Shot on Leica M6.

If you visit their website, you can view some of the patient profiles and even symbolically adopt a sea turtle or do Turtles at Twilight, an after-hours tour with the sea turtle experts!

I strongly recommend visiting their website for their hours and admission tickets, programs, and experiences.

A sea turtle receiving care at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Image shot on the Leica M6 Film Camera.

5) Have Breakfast at the Jekyll Island Club Grand Dining Room

Having breakfast at the Jekyll Island Club Grand Dining Room is one of my favorite things to do on Jekyll Island. I absolutely LOVE breakfast. And when I go on vacations, I am always looking for the best breakfast spots.

Dining for breakfast at the Grand Dining Room at the Jekyll Island Club is an experience like no other, as you feel like you stepped back into time a century ago to have breakfast as the Vanderbilt family did.

The Grand Dining room is elegantly furnished, and what I like to imagine it looked like 100 years ago. A short hall of mirrors at the main entrance leads to the dining room with several nicely furnished adjacent rooms.  

The Grand Dining Room is located at the Jekyll Island Club Resort at 371 Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island, GA 31527. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Grand Dining Room has limited hours and is open for breakfast only from 7am to 10:30am.

Slightly more on the pricey side, the food is worth it; it’s absolutely delicious, and you can order off the menu or enjoy the buffet (when open) with various breakfast options. The coffee is delicious too!

Jekyll Island Club Resort. Shot on Fujifilm Pro 400h.
The Grand Dining Room at Jekyll Island Club Resort. Digital photo.

After breakfast, you can sit in the lounge and play games or read a book. They have the nicest Monopoly board I’ve ever seen. I didn’t get to play while we were there, but I came home and bought the same board or at least a version that looked very similar.   

Outside is their porch area that overlooks the Jekyll Island Club Resort Pool and the East River. It’s a great spot to enjoy your favorite beverage and cool off from the Georgia heat if you visit in the summer!

A Note on My Images

I am proud to say that this post’s images are the first film photography images I’ve taken while on vacation. Previously, I was the photographer’s wife, standing on the sidelines watching my husband take pictures for the last ten years, but I am now actively learning to shoot film!

Most of these images in this post are shot on Leica M6 and Hasselblad 500cm. While these are not the best visually pleasing Jekyll Island images,  I was super excited to see my pictures developed. I clearly have a lot to learn, but I hope to improve with consistent practice.

My first time shooting film didn’t come without a hitch, and you can read about my first experience in my 7 Things Learned in the First Month of Film Photography post. Learning photography is a rewarding experience, but it is not without challenges. But it is well worth it!

What are some of your favorite Jekyll Island activities? Please comment your thoughts below!

A woman stands outside a historical cottage on Jekyll Island.
You can’t see it well, but I hold the Leica M6 outside one of the many historical cottages on Jekyll Island.

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