Fall Break on Jekyll Island

After what felt like the longest 9-week term ever, the kids made it to Fall Break. To celebrate, we spent the most relaxing week on Jekyll Island. Our plan was to have no plan, and simply enjoy our time sans schoolwork, deadlines, and technology issues. Too bad this cutie missed the memo.

Jekyll Island has been on my radar for a bit, and Fall Break seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. What made this beach vacation stand out from our other beach vacations to the Florida panhandle? Its location. Jekyll Island is a barrier island off the southeastern coast of Georgia. Barrier islands are usually formed by accumulations of sand and provide a buffer between the ocean and the mainland. Their function is especially important during hurricanes, protecting the mainland from Mother Nature’s wrath. As such, barrier islands undergo periods of growth and erosion. {Pop quiz later in this blog post.}

Early in the week, there were several storms which created the most beautiful backdrop.

That was also the time we seemed to have the beach and resort to ourselves, which was definitely not the case by Thursday.

Where to Stay

Westin Jekyll Island

There are a variety of lodging options from which to choose. We stayed at the Westin Jekyll Island as its location right on the beach could not be beat. It is also within walking distance to shopping and dining at Beach Village, which was perfect for our laissez-faire approach.

Our Ocean View, Two Queen Room with Balcony was spacious and comfortable. We all enjoyed lounging on the balcony. It was a quaint spot to have breakfast, people watch, and let the ocean breeze envelope us.

Things to Do

Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

On a particularly stormy morning, the kids and I visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, aka the Turtle Hospital. We learned all about see turtles and their rehabilitation. There are interactive exhibits for all ages, even during COVID, and with a little bit of luck you’ll even get to watch doctors performing a life-saving egg retrieval operation.

Things we learned:

  • Never let your dogs wander the beach at night. They can destroy a turtle nest or hatchlings.
  • Always use a red film on your flashlight when turtle watching at night. Without one, the artificial light can disorient the mama turtles and stop them from laying their eggs, or prevent hatchlings from making it to the ocean. This is also why beach homeowners are discouraged from turning on exterior lights at night. Westin Jekyll Island and Beach Village used amber-colored lights, which have the least impact on the turtles.
  • Only 1 in 4,000 turtles will survive the decades required to be of reproductive age. Wow!

Go Bike Riding

Jekyll Island has over 20 miles of bike paths. We were able to rent bikes at the Westin and explored the island. This was way more fun than I expected. We saw multiple cranes, a blue heron, and heard a chorus of owls hooting. To really get your blood pumping, try riding back after dark, past Spanish-moss draped trees, with the owls animated in the background. Ask me how I know! 🙂 We even encountered a scared buck that thundered past us. I still don’t know if it was as scared of us as we were of it. Ha!

Visit Driftwood Beach

Never have I experienced anything like Driftwood Beach. It’s like a dystopian fairytale. Soil erosion created an environment unable to support the trees, which toppled over and are in various states of barnacled decay. (Remember what I wrote about barrier islands earlier?) Many branches are gnarled, which is uber cool during the daytime, but takes on an eerie effect in the evening.

In the distance, you can see the capsized Golden Ray cargo ship, which is scheduled to be dismantled. It’s unfortunate it can’t be sunk to become an artificial coral reef habitat and underwater sculpture.

Visit the Horton House Ruins

Horton House is one of the historic sites on Jekyll Island we stumbled across while sightseeing. Built in 1743 by military aide William Horton, the shell of the tabby house remains. When we visited Hilton Head last year, we learned that tabby was the building material of choice for that era. It is composed of equal parts sand, lime, oyster shell, and water. Directly across the street is the burial ground for the du Bignon family, who purchased and expanded the Horton House. Together, they are all that remain of what was known as the du Bignon Plantation.

Where to Eat

Salty’s

For lazy pool days at the Westin, Salty’s poolside service is super convenient and the food is great too. Their lemon pepper wings are divine!

The Reserve

The Reserve is the Westin’s fine dining option. The DH and I stole away one evening while the kids were engrossed with their technology and 31 nights of Halloween on Freeform. I don’t know if we enjoyed the food or the company more.

Sunset Grill

Steps away from the resort in Beach Village is Sunset Grill. This is a quaint, casual option with decent seafood options. The portion sizes are generous, so visit after working up an appetite.

The Wharf

Hands down, our favorite dining experience was The Wharf, the casual dining option for the Jekyll Island Club. Again, we dined al fresco while a live band played 80s rock ballads. The food was superb and the location could not be beat. You’d be hard pressed to top a delicious meal accompanied by an over the water sunset.

What to Expect

Jekyll Island is a state park and there is a nominal entrance fee. This is used to support and maintain the island’s recreational activities.

Indoor activities are limited. For rainy days, make sure you pack an exciting novel. Or spend the day in bed watching tv.

A visit to Jekyll Island is best suited to those seeking a little rest and relaxation. The vibe is relaxed and casual, much like island time in the Caribbean.

We had such a fantastic time recharging our batteries for hybrid learning! Bring. It. On.

As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email ebony@classictravelconnection.com to learn more.

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