Explore Georgia’s Cumberland Island to witness the beauty of natural wilderness and historical intrigue.
A trip to Cumberland Island can satisfy your mind’s curiosity with its historical secrets or relax it all together with its tranquil scenery.
Your journey begins in St Marys, Georgia. St Marys is the gateway to Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. Here pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes whisper the stories of both man and nature. Here you will board the ferry bound for Cumberland Island National Seashore, visit our museum and our visitor center.
Natural Cumberland Island
Cumberland is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands along the Georgia coast. The National Park Service protects almost 36,000 acres of the island, including miles of unspoiled beaches. Preserved and protected for future generations, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes a designated Wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas, as well as numerous plant and animal communities.
The most intriguing part about Cumberland is its history. Once a working plantation, followed by a winter retreat for the wealthy Carnegie family, Cumberland Island is now home to the descendants of slaves and aristocrats, as well as wild horses with bloodlines that trace to the royal stables of the King of Arabia. The stories of the people weave a captivating tale of wealth, poverty, privilege and sacrifice.
Four Ways to Experience Cumberland Island
Visit Cumberland Island for the day, camp overnight, or be a guest at the upscale Greyfield Inn, made famous by John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wedding. Day visitors and campers reach the island by taking the Cumberland Island Ferry from the Cumberland Island Visitors Center in St. Marys, Georgia, to the Sea Camp Dock. Guests of the Greyfield Inn take the hotel’s private ferry, the Lucy Ferguson. The boat ride itself is wonderful way to see Cumberland’s beauty from the water.
Guided Cumberland Island
The best way to unlock Cumberland’s secrets, whether historical or natural, is with a guide. You can take a Jeep tour as part of your stay at the Greyfield Inn, or choose the park ranger service, which offers walking or motorized tours that start at the Sea Camp Dock, or cell phone tours that originate at the Dungeness Docks. It’s best to reserve the motorized tour when you book the ferry. You’ll cover several hundred years of history in just a few hours, all while traveling the interior of one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the U.S.
Biking to Dungeness
To truly explore the island further, you need a bike and a good pair of walking shoes. Guests at the Greyfield Inn have bikes at their disposal as part of their rooms. Otherwise, bikes are available for rent at the Sea Camp Dock. Bike rentals are first-come, first-served, though, so do this before anything else, including the tour.
A favorite destination is the Dungeness Ruins, the remains of Lucy Carnegie’s island mansion. Lucy, whose husband Thomas was the brother and business partner of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, once owned 90 percent of Cumberland Island and built grand homes for her children, including Greyfield. Besides the mansion, be sure to explore the out buildings. The laundry is fascinating, not only because of the cleaning machines on display, but the innovations in cooling. It must have been sweltering hot to wash clothes in the summer, yet the height of the ceiling and fans that pulled out the hot air helped keep the building relatively cool.
Lastly, the other way to see and spend the night on the island is by camping.
Cumberland Island offers five campgrounds, which include designated campsites at Sea Camp and Stafford Beach; and Wilderness campsites at: Hickory Hill, Yankee Paradise and Brickhill Bluff. Camping is only permitted in these five campgrounds. A permit is required to camp in any of these five camping areas.
Camp sites: Sea Camp with 18 sites, limited to 60 persons per night, running water, toilets, cold showers, fire rings and food cages; Stafford Beach with fire rings and flush toilets (*3.5 miles); Backcountry – Hickory Hill (*5.5 miles); Yankee Paradise (*7.5 miles); and Brick Hill Bluff (*10.6 miles).
Great family fun for the whole family!
For more information visit www.cumberlandisland.com