By Patty Hooley
What a crazy name, Jekyll Island! I just had to look it up to find out where it got its name. It’s not a real interesting story, like the home of the legendary Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, but the name comes from Sir Joseph Jekyll who was a friend of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia Colony in the early 1700s.
We found Jekyll Island on one of the Facebook RV pages last year while we were just beginning the process of planning our 2016 travel up the east coast. We heard all very good things about the island and the campground. We can now say that the campground is one of the best we have visited. The island is also a great place to spend some time. It was a great five days there.
Jekyll Island is located just off the coast of south Georgia and is about half way between Savannah, Ga., to the north and Jacksonville, Fla., to the south. The island is also part of the Georgia State Park System.
The campground is located on the north end of the island about 5 miles from the entrance of the park. The park has 175 campsites and can handle a large rig like we have at 40-foot or more. Our cost was only $40 a night for full hookups, pull through and great Wi-Fi. That really is a deal for this campground!
We visited the island to kill some time before some appointments in mid-June. We didn’t know much about it, but were able to get a reservation for five nights until Memorial Day weekend. And we are so glad we did!
The entire campground is full of tall pines and oak trees making for a complete canopy of limbs with loads of Spanish moss overhead. In fact we had to use our interior lights in the middle of the day to see inside of the RV!
The good-sized campground sites are nothing more than a dirt layer of leaves on top of the ground. We didn’t have any trouble getting into our pull-through site as there was just enough room between the trees. We didn’t even need to maneuver around to get a better position — it was right the first time.
We hit perfect weather, having full sunshine during the day with temps in the mid-80s and nights in the mid-60s. We were able to visit Great Dunes Beach one day for some rays and there were less than 20 people on the beach, although there were people fishing in the distance in both directions. This is the advantage of visiting during shoulder seasons; there is no traffic!
We also visited Driftwood Beach one day for some priceless photos of massive pieces of driftwood lining the beach. Glory Beach is on the south end of the island along with St. Andrews Picnic Area. We opted out of Summer Waves Water Park, which is a bit pricey for what it could offer us.
For information about Jekyyl Island beaches, click here.
Coming into the island you need to pay a daily entrance fee. The signs/instructions at the gate are not very good. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the instructions on the electronic gate system. The park had a couple of people helping visitors manage the system to get in. This electronic gate handles a lot of things making the instructions difficult to follow.
First, there is a daily rate of $6 that can be increased depending on the number of days you will be using the gate, not how many days you are on the island – confusing! Then there is the issue of payment. There is a slot for a credit card, cash, and one for your entrance card all with instructions.
Along with that stuff there is also a swipe surface for reading some other type pass and, oh yeah, another set of instructions. Anyway, sitting there with a 40-foot fifth wheel on my rear and hanging out the door of our F-450 with a line of other vehicles behind you, this system was very intimidating to say the least.
We got through that obstacle with just paying the $6 entrance fee for one day with a credit card. We didn’t ask how the weekly pass worked as we wanted to scope out the land before we decided how often we might be leaving the park. We did go off the island just after setting up to get a few things just to be sure we didn’t need to go out later, and we didn’t leave again while there.
The next hurdle was getting to the campground. Our GPS system was giving us directions, but I wasn’t too sure about them. Also, the signs in the park are not the best and our GPS wasn’t agreeing. It’s not that the signs are wrong. It’s that they are somewhat busy and not always logical for first-time visitors.
You travel along watching the signs for campground and then see one showing campground with an arrow for straight ahead, all fine so far. Then the next few signs showed other places with arrows. After a while, you begin to wonder if you missed the sign, but then a sign appears telling you to turn immediately.
Turning right away is not always convenient when you are a vehicle with tow of 55 feet! It’s all very doable, but you just need to keep on your toes. We learned that if you follow the GPS you will be fine getting to the campground. No worries!
The campground reminds me of Walt Disney’s Fort Wilderness, and it may have been designed from the concept of the Jekyll Island campground. Jekyyl Island is one of the nicest real campgrounds we have been in. One of the great things about the campground is that you can bike to most everything on the island. However, we chose to use our truck for most trips because we only had five days and wanted to move more quickly.
For more information about camping on Jekyyl Island, click here.
One of the best things for us was the golfing here. I know we were here at a slower time just before the big summer season and just before Memorial Day weekend, but we never expected to have such great access to the golf courses!
We called the course looking for a tee time and thinking there was no way we’d get in a round. But, we were told most any day and time was available. We played was Indian Mound and it was not only very picturesque, but also well maintained.
It costs $55, which includes a cart, to golf any of the 18-hole courses, but we purchased “passport” vouchers at the campground for $40. We went out on a Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. and had no one close in front or behind us. It was like we had the course all to ourselves.
To learn more about Jekyyl Island golf courses, click here.
There is a miniature golf course on the island with two 18-hole courses. We decided to check that out one day and they were well maintained and fun to play for about $8 per round.
At the same location, you can rent a variety of bicycles for one to four riders as well as electric carts — rather cars — that are teardrop shaped with covers and doors that can hold two to six passengers. These cars are allowed and used on the roads, which all allow a maximum speed of 35 mph.
Beach Village just opened in November 2015, so we stopped to check it out. These are typical touristy-type small businesses that sell things at a high markup. We decided to enjoy lunch outdoors at Wee Pub. The food was pretty tasty and the service still in training. We took the walkway to the beach and again found very few people out there. For more information and a menu, visit www.theweepub.com.
We did have one negative comment about the campground. The website and park advertise pickleball and we wanted to play on their court, but there wasn’t a net. We have our own balls and paddles to play, we just need the net.
When we asked about the net at the office we were told that there was a $5 fee to use the net! What? So we didn’t play pickleball. It was the principle that they were making you pay for the use of the net that irritated us. If the money was just a holding fee that would have been fine, but a fee to use the net, come on! The fact that the court was poorly marked was just miniscule.
We were amused by the signs posted throughout the park that read:
Every sign has the same typos! That really irritated us.
We were on the island for just five day, which was enough to get a real feel for the place, but just wasn’t long enough to more relaxing. We didn’t do everything there is to do on the island, but we did a lot in those five days. We feel that two weeks would be needed to take full advantage of all there is to do in Jekyyl Island.
For more information about the island, visit www.jekyllisland.com.