Saturday, May 18, 2024

Anniversary Celebration on Jekyll Island


Our two-year anniversary celebration took us to Jekyll Island this week. Here is my album of memories.

cover of free visitor guide

If you don't already know, Jekyll Island is one of the four "Golden Isles" that are barrier islands on Georgia's Atlantic coast. The others are St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island. They are all close to Brunswick, Georgia, and about an hour's drive north of Jacksonville, Florida. From our home, Jekyll is about a 3-to-3 1/2 hour drive. 

we exchanged cards;
the trip was our gift to each other

Having been to the busy activity of St. Simons several times in the past, I suggested we go to Jekyll where the atmosphere is a little quieter with less traffic. (That could be different in the summer months, when school is out, I don't know.)

M.E. Thompson Bridge

To access the island, we drove over the Jekyll River on the M.E. Thompson Bridge. The island is 1 1/2 miles wide and 7 miles long. There are 10 miles of beaches. 

Sidney Lanier Bridge in the distance

Within view of our destination we could see the impressive bridge linking Brunswick to St. Simons Island. This longest-spanning bridge in Georgia stretches 7, 779 feet across and reaches 480 feet at its highest point. (info from Wikipedia)

Plantation Oak in historic district;
over 7 feet in diameter; oldest tree on the island;
about 350 years old

Jekyll Island is a state park so before entering the island via a causeway and the bridge, we stopped at the Visitors Center to pay admission, $10 per day per car. There was a wonderful gift shop and clean restrooms.

tide coming in at the wharf
on Jekyll River

After driving 3 hours, we were ready to think about lunch and we couldn't check into our hotel until 4pm, so we scouted out a good place to eat.

Wharf Restaurant

The above snapshot doesn't do the restaurant justice; I'm posting it to show the sign and its location on the water (as the tide is coming in). With both indoor and outdoor dining, we opted for outside, which was also just steps away from sign-ups for the Dolphin Cruise.

menu

I chose The Wharf Burger with cole slaw; Gary ordered the Shrimp Basket with Hush Puppies.



After lunch we had some time before the Dolphin tour, so we walked across the road to see the Jekyll Island Club Resort. 

Jekyll Island Club Resort behind us

To give you a little history, in the 1800s Jekyll Island became an exclusive hunting club for the Rockefellers, Morgans, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and Bakers. In 1947 the island was established as a state park.

1940 Buick Special 8

Stationed in front of the resort was this car which drew Gary like a magnet. One writer said he wondered about all the conversations behind the wheel of this car when President Roosevelt was in office, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Normandy, World War II -- all were taking place.

print by Bruce Gourley

While we were admiring this car, a man walked up with the keys, opened it up and asked if we'd like to hear the engine. He started it up and then drove it off, presumably to keep all the parts in operating order.

Jekyll Island Club Resort patio and fountain area

Guests are allowed to wander through the resort. We admired this outdoor area before going indoors.

stair case inside Jekyll Island Club Resort

I did not take many pictures inside because I was just so enthralled with everything. It was a lot to take in. The wood work of this stair case in the main hall was stunning. 

main dining room

There were smaller rooms on both sides of the main hall classically furnished with couches, easy chairs, and tables but the above appeared to be the primary dining room.

It was time to get back to the wharf for the Dolphin Tour.

tour boat at dock

Our boat had many benches in an open-air setting with a substantial roof for shade that also served to store the life vests, should they be needed. 


We sat about half-way back on the port side (which is the left side -- I had to look that up!). The boat holds 48 passengers plus the pilot and the tour guide.

that's a Dolphin fin in the water, on the right

The voyage lasted 90 minutes as we traveled on the Jekyll River toward the southernmost end of the island, eventually entering the Atlantic Ocean. 

best of my Dolphin fin snapshots

As you can readily see, I'm not a professional photographer, so this is the best of many attempts to catch the stars of the show. But I will give the disclaimer stated by our tour guide who readily admitted from the start that he never knows if the dolphins will appear for any of these boat cruises. The boat was launched and we scanned the water for indications they are out there. Splashing in the distance is what we look for.

Dolphins splashing as they .....

We saw no high jumps out of the water. Our host said usually that is not seen unless you're at a theme park where the sea life is both trained and rewarded, neither of which is the case out in the wild like this. He did tell us that when they are splashing a lot, they are usually either trying to attract a date, mating, or giving birth. Gestation, by the way takes a year. 

where river meets ocean

Another feature of this trip was to see where the river water meets up with ocean water, creating a sort of rugged line of brown and blue water. 

I have seen something like this before when clear spring water meets up with muddy river water, creating parallel currents until eventually, downstream, they blend into one.

river meets ocean, from
the ocean perspective

Gary asked me what the orangish blobs were in the water, which I could not capture with my camera, but there were A LOT of them. I raised my hand to ask our tour guide. He replied those were Jelly Fish. I'll show you a really good snapshot of one of those a little farther down in this account.

one of many yachts

Mariners can travel for a thousand miles on the Intracoastal Waterway, which includes the Jekyll River. As we headed back to the dock, we saw several yachts like this one. Note the bicycles in the photo below. I'll say more about bicycles later.

yacht with bicycle storage

We reached the end of the tour exactly on time and made our way to check in at our hotel. 

pool area at our hotel

Regarding our hotel, please understand that what I will say here is not  intended as a complaint but rather as helpful information before reservations are made. I will not name our hotel. It was beautiful and clean and considering the location, priced right. It was close to the beach, with beach access and we had a balcony in our 4th floor room.

beach access

What was not stated in the hotel description was what our balcony view would be: dense forest. Yes, we were a couple hundred yards from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, but all we could see was dense tree branches! The beach access was a sturdy, well-constructed wood pier that required us to climb very steep steps (a lot of them) to get up and over and then down again over the berm that contained the dense tree branches. 

So, consumer be aware that "beach access" and close proximity to the water does not necessarily mean one can see the ocean from one's room, even on the top (4th) floor of the hotel. Okay. Wiser for the experience. It was still a very nice place to stay.

Also, as Gary noted, this hotel had more protection from storm surge with the berm and forest. Other hotels on the island were closer to the water.

quiet Atlantic beach 
with Cumberland Island in the distance

The beach was quiet and the sand very firm. That translates to being easy to walk on. We liked that. We strolled down about as far as that water tower in the above picture and then came back.

jellyfish on the beach

I promised earlier to say more about the jellyfish. We saw hundreds of them in the water during our boat tour and then a huge number of them were deposited on the beach from when the tide was high. This one was about as big as the span of a man's hand. Very interesting. Of course, we were very careful to not step on them. I assume they were dead, or nearly so, being out of the water and absolutely still.

love note

Keeping in mind that we were celebrating our anniversary with this trip, Gary found a stick of driftwood so I could write a love note.

Beach Village (shopping)

Since Jekyll Island is a Georgia State Park and every effort is made to keep it attractive and peaceful, there are no malls, grocery stores, and certainly no Walmart. We saw one gas station. What they do have is a small couple of blocks with quaint shops for tourists. We also shopped at the Mosaic Museum gift shop which had the most unique (and beautiful) items for purchase.

Here are some of our purchases (please forgive the wrinkles):










It is our habit to make lunch our big meal of the day, so our supper that night was yogurt, frozen, of course:

New York Cheesecake yogurt topped with walnuts

And this note of interest: I was fascinated with how the creators of this wonderful place have been resourceful in their usage of natural elements to fulfill requirements.


Underneath the table where we enjoyed our frozen yogurt were jillions of sea shells instead of gravel. I thought that was very clever.

a parking lot

While I'm on the subject of ingenuity, here is a parking lot where they used sea shells instead of white paint to outline the parking spaces!

bike rentals are everywhere

One of the big factors that drew me to choose Jekyll Island for our trip was their bicycle paths. Bikes can be rented from just about every hotel, or you can bring your own. The beauty of the island can perhaps be best enjoyed with a bicycle. We did not ride this time since Gary needs a little more time to heal from his surgery. But if we go again, I want to do it in a cooler time of year and definitely either take our bicycles or rent.


The last really notable attraction I want to share is Driftwood Beach.


At the northeastern edge of the island, driftwood has collected over time from the ocean waves, creating an eerie scene, yet fascinating, too.

The sand is firm here and the sculptures are large, gnarled, and lacking any foliage at all. Somebody suggested this would be a good place for a wedding although Gary and I strongly disagreed. It would be an artsy setting, to be sure, and a white wedding gown would contrast sharply with the driftwood, but I would fear the implications of the happiness of the couple in years to come..... (just sayin')


This broken off tree trunk had multiple vertical cuts. I don't know how that developed.

St. Simons island with 
lighthouse

As I introduced this blog post, I mentioned the other islands making up The Golden Isles. St. Simons island is just across the water from Jekyll. It, too, is a fun place to visit, but for us, the tranquility of Jekyll was just our speed.

As Gary likes to say, "I'm old, you know!" Well, we're not THAT old, but for serene beauty, good food, and much less commercialism, Jekyll Island is a wonderful destination. It was the perfect location to celebrate our love and the goodness God has given to us.

This is the day the Lord has made,
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24


Until next time, grace and peace.




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