Sapelo is a state-managed barrier island, the fourth largest in the chain of coastal Georgia islands between the Savannah and St. Marys rivers. Accessible only by passenger ferry, Sapelo provides a number of public access recreational, educational and lodging opportunities.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the island. DNR operates the ferry service and serves as state liaison for the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Georgia Marine Institute, and the civilian Hog Hammock community, permanent home to about 70 full-time residents, many of whom are descended from the antebellum slaves of Sapelo's plantations.
DNR operates the R.J. Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo. Built by Thomas Spalding in 1810 and restored by automotive pioneer Howard Coffin in 1925 and tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds in the 1940s, the Mansion provides overnight accommodations for groups. The mansion also operates a public beach campground at Cabretta.