Driftwood Beach at sunrise. Photo by @wandernorthga

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. Photo by @wandernorthga

Guide to Jekyll Island

Set among the Golden Isles, Jekyll Island was settled in 1733 as the Georgia Colony and was later known as the playground for the rich and famous. The Federal Reserve system was planned at the Jekyll Island Club, which was also the site of the first transcontinental phone call. Today, it sits a short drive from Savannah, with more than 10 miles of beaches, a historic landmark district, golf courses and state park-protected land. The island was even named Money Magazine's #1 Place to Go in the U.S. in 2019. It also houses a sea turtle rescue center and has been the filming location for films like "X-Men: First Class," "The Legend of Bagger Vance," and "The Walking Dead."

Things to Do

There is no shortage of things to keep visitors entertained at any time of year.

Child walking on Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Driftwood Beach

While there are some beautiful beaches on the Georgia Coast, Driftwood Beach might be the most iconic. Made up of sun-bleached driftwood, this strewn beach resembles a natural jungle gym just asking to be photographed.

Beach Village

Browse for souvenirs and goods at Beach Village, which has an eclectic range of stores.

Aerial view of golf course on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy @jekyll_island

Jekyll Island Golf Club

Jekyll Island Golf Club's 63 holes on four courses provide a scenic place to tee off, whether you're an amateur or professional. Those looking for a more classic game can enjoy the Walter Travis-designed Great Dunes course, overlooking the ocean.

Jekyll Island Tennis Center

Tennis fans can play a few matches at the Jekyll Island Tennis Center, which is an award-winning USTA facility. The 13 Har-tru clay courts are open to the public and have a pro shop, instructions and rentals.

Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia
Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Summer Waves Water Park

Open seasonally, the Summer Waves Water Park is a fun place to cool off with 11 acres of rides and activities. Feel the sting of the towering Man o' War, the park's newest four-slide, suit-soaking attraction opening summer 2021! Park-goers can enjoy a variety of food options and rent a shady cabana for the family.

Jekyll Island Mini Golf & Bike Barn

Borrow a bicycle from Jekyll Island Mini Golf & Bike Barn to navigate the more than 20 miles of paths and trails along the island. This establishment also rents tricycles, tandem bikes, and surreys and even offers mini golf.

Wanderer Memory Trail

An important reminder of Jekyll Island's past, the Wanderer Memory Trail interprets the history of the Wanderer, a slave ship that arrived on the Jekyll River illegally 160 years ago. It brought 500 enslaved Africans whose stories are now told through exhibits along this trail.

Staff care for injured turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy @jekyll_island

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Learn about the protected species at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rehabilitation and educational facility. Visitors can see the turtles in their hospital habitats, learn from the exhibits, and check out the marine-themed gifts at their shop, which helps support the center's efforts.

Child playing at Mosaic on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy @jekyll_island

Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum

The Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum shares the many stories the barrier island has to offer, including interactive exhibits, an outdoor classroom, and artifacts. The location is inside a historic stables building.

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Places to Stay

Jekyll Island has many different types of accommodations, depending on your budget.

Courtyard/Residence Inn by Marriott

The newest dual-branded hotel on Jekyll Island fuses two unique brands - Courtyard and Residence Inn - and features amenities like the island's largest pool, oceanfront event space and onsite dining.

Villas by the Sea Resort & Conference Center

Villas by the Sea Resort & Conference Center is the largest beach resort on the island with 17 acres. The hotel rooms, villas and condominiums have plenty of space and access to nature trails and the beach.

The Westin Jekyll Island
The Westin Jekyll Island

Westin Jekyll Island

The Westin Jekyll Island is next door to the convention center, making it perfect for business or leisure. With more than 180 guest rooms and 13 suites, the hotel has direct beach access and three restaurants, including a rooftop lounge.

Hampton Inn & Suites

The budget-friendly Hampton Inn & Suites has features every traveler will love, like a boardwalk to the pool and beach, complimentary daily breakfast, a lobby bar and comfy rooms. They also have bike rentals to navigate the island.

Beachview Club Hotel

The stylish Beachview Club Hotel is a family-owned boutique hotel has 38 efficiencies and suites with refrigerators, microwaves, and even some with full kitchens. There is an outdoor heated pool and hot tub as well as bike rentals.

Jekyll Island Club Resort. Photo courtesy @jekyll_island

Jekyll Island Club Resort

Originally the private club, the Jekyll Island Club Resort retains its Victorian charm that brought in famous families. It includes guest rooms and cottages as well as history tours, a swimming pool, croquet, and multiple bars and restaurants.

Holiday Inn Resort

Set on the ocean, the Holiday Inn Resort has 157 guest rooms and family-style suites. The modern accommodations have easy access to the beach, an oceanfront pool and spa, an onsite restaurant and bar, and a fitness center.

Jekyll Island Campground

The Jekyll Island Campground is by far the most affordable, conveniently located near Driftwood Beach. Choose from RV and tent sites as well as amenities like free WiFi and onsite laundry.

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Where to Eat

Chow down at one of Jekyll Island’s best restaurants for every palate.

Food at The Wharf on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga
The Wharf on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga

The Wharf

The Wharf is the island's only waterfront restaurant and bar, located on the historic district pier. They offer live music every week, nautical-themed decor, indoor and outdoor seating, and a menu of Southern favorites.

The Jekyll Market

The Jekyll Market is a gourmet grocery store selling specialty ingredients with multiple eateries including a deli, bakery, barbecue restaurant, and dessert shop.

Island Sweets Shoppe

Indulge your sweet tooth at the Island Sweets Shoppe, the historic district's old fashioned candy shop and ice cream store. Pick up freshly made fudge, fine chocolates and other treats.

The Reserve Steakhouse on Jekyll Island, Georgia
The Reserve Steakhouse on Jekyll Island, Georgia

The Reserve Steakhouse

Located inside the Westin hotel, The Reserve Steakhouse is a modern, oceanfront steakhouse that offers prime cut steaks, top notch sides and an extensive wine list.

Zachry's Riverhouse

Set on a porch overlooking the Jekyll River, Zachry's Riverhouse is a great place for seafood, burgers, wings and salads.

Sunrise Grille

A short walk from the convention center is Sunrise Grille, a great local restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and a full bar.

Driftwood Bistro

Locals love Driftwood Bistro for Lowcountry fare with favorites like blackened Wild Georgia shrimp and stuffed flounder, as well as pork tenderloin, specialty sandwiches and salads. Shrimp and grits is their signature dish.

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Plan your trip to Jekyll Island around one of the annual events.

Children with Island Treasures on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy @jekyll_island

Island Treasures

The Island Treasures event honors the tradition of fishermen using hollow glass floats as markers. Hand-blown artist floats are now spread across the island as a hide and seek game each January and February. Visit in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of this one-of-a-kind event!

Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl kicks off the start of turtle nesting season on the Georgia coast and serves as a fundraiser to support the work of the Center. It includes a 5K, 10K, and fun run, and if a sea turtle patient is ready, participants might even witness its return back to the ocean!

Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival
Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival

Shrimp & Grits Festival

Chow down on one of the coast's most famous dishes at the Shrimp & Grits Festival. Held every fall, the event features various interpretations of the dish, along with family-friendly entertainment, an artist market, live music and craft beer. Visitors can welcome the return of the festival Nov. 4-6, 2022, as it marks its 15th anniversary!

Holly Jolly Jekyll
Holly Jolly Jekyll

Holly Jolly Jekyll

Celebrate the holiday season at Holly Jolly Jekyll, a season-long series of events that features Holly Jolly Light Tours, Peppermint Land, Fireworks, and holiday cheer. With more than half a million lights, you'll want to spend every minute on the brightest isle on the coast.

Published: June 2021