From Camping to Kayaking at Georgia’s Cumberland Island

May 18, 2017Travel Ideas

Stretching along the windswept Atlantic coast, Cumberland Island National Seashore is the largest and southernmost of Georgia's barrier islands, offering a wild escape in a natural landscape of dunes, marshlands, and maritime forests. Cumberland Island National Seashore spans more than 36,000 acres, nearly a third of which is congressionally designated wilderness. Unwind with this list of things to do on Cumberland Island and you’ll discover there are few places more perfectly suited for getting away from it all. 

Exploring the Island

Boy walking in the waves on a beach with the bright yellow and orange sun rising on the left
Candy Cook, Share the Experience

Cumberland Island is one of the least-developed places along the southern coast of the United States, offering a wide range of options for anyone with a desire to experience nature in its untamed state. 

  • Hiking: The interior of Cumberland Island is home to about 50 miles of trails. You can explore vast areas of maritime forests, wetlands, marshes, and beach ecosystems. 
  • Kayaking: Excellent kayaking is available at Cumberland Island, especially in the marsh along the inland shore. The island sits at the southern end of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, a paddling route that stretches 800 miles along the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
  • Stargazing: Low light pollution gives Cumberland Island some of the clearest, darkest night skies on the East Coast, making it a beautiful place to lie back and enjoy the night sky. 
  • Fishing: You'll find great surf fishing on the island’s Atlantic beaches, along with plenty of fishing opportunities in the backwater areas between the island and the mainland. Just remember to obtain a Georgia fishing license before baiting your fishing pole!

Close-up of a small blue fiddler crab on a sandy beach at Cumberland Island National Seashore
Jenna Crovo, Share the Experience
  • Wildlife viewing: From the seabirds that hunt along the shoreline to the feral horses that have inhabited the island for hundreds of years, the wildlife of Cumberland Island is alluring and diverse.
  • Biking: As all roads on the Island are unpaved, biking can be difficult. Those who are interested in using their bicycles on the soft, sand roads are welcome to do so, though bikes with thin street tires are not recommended.  
  • Swimming: There are no lifeguards posted, so exercise caution as you enjoy swimming along the beaches of Cumberland Island.
  • Beach combing: You can spot sharks' teeth and unoccupied shells along the coast, with some of the best beachcombing opportunities taking place right after a storm. 

Staying the Night

Camping at Stafford Beach

Ryan Ridgway, Share the Experience

Camping is available at Cumberland Island National Seashore, with two developed campgrounds at Stafford Beach and Sea Camp, along with three wilderness camps that are considerably more remote and offer few amenities. No supplies are available on the island, so make sure you are well prepared. Sea Camp is the only campground that offers potable drinking water. 

Getting There

Horse walking on a sandy beach with the sun rising into the blue sky behind it at Cumberland Island National Seashore
Gabriel Friedrich, Share the Experience

Cumberland Island is only accessible by water. You can arrive on your own private boat, or take the Cumberland Island Ferry from the town of St. Marys on the Georgia mainland. Ferries depart and return several times daily. Boat launch facilities are also available in St. Marys, and you'll find numerous places on the mainland from which to launch kayaks and other small crafts.

Why not plane a relaxing trip to the ocean, getting far from the usual beach crowds and exploring the wild side of Georgia?  Go #FindYourPark and enjoy the multitude of things to do on Cumberland Island.

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