Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cumberland Island, Georgia

The weather has finally gotten better and we took advantage of a sunny, low 70’s day with low humidity to explore Cumberland Island and the National Seashore. If one doesn’t have a personal watercraft to get to Cumberland Island ($4 per person entrance fee), there is a ferry ($20 per person, round-trip) that will take you there twice a day (three times in the summer). 


Reservations are recommended, and required during the busier times (weekends and summertime), but we tried our luck with walk-on passage and there was plenty of availability.

Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest barrier island and without urban sprawl and development; it is basically the same as it was decades ago – no roads (well, they’re sand), no stores, you get the idea. Cumberland Island is known for its natural beauty,  the wild horses, and the First African Baptist Church (est. 1893), important for its own right, but also the site of John F. KennedyJr’s wedding. The only way to get to the church is a day-long bus ride ($15 per person) and we didn’t want to spend the entire day there, so we did the popular 3½ southern route. However, the bus trip is on our list for future things to do, as we enjoyed Cumberland Island.

The southern route (known as the Dungeness Trail) takes one through a beautiful maritime forest, then onto the ruins of Dungeness. The ruins are the remain of Thomas (the younger brother of Andrew) and Lucy Carnegie’s mansion, built in the 1880’s.
 A fire destroyed the home in 1959, and what is seen today are the ruins as well as the other homes of the compound, such as the Tabby House, the oldest house on the island originally inhabited by Catherine Greene Miller beginning around 1796 ~ in fact, this is the oldest house on the island. (Eventually this was the gardener’s cottage when the Carnegie’s lived here.)

After seeing a few of the different buildings, we walked along the wooden boardwalks, 
past some marshes 

until we arrived at the silky, sandy beach
The tide was out so the beach was quite large, with lots of seashells sprawled along the sand. Surprisingly, you are allowed to collect seashells here (as they are a renewable resource), so we did take one. The beach is comparable to the Oregon beaches (our favorite) in some way – large and walk able for miles.

As we meandered along, we eventually did come to some of the wild horses on the beach one sees in photographs of Cumberland Island. We saw other horses on our walk, but were excited to see some on the beach.

We continued to walk around the campground – there is a primitive campground for walk-in campers that also arrive on the ferry – and the sites were quite cool. We enjoyed a ranger talk (well, actually a movie) for about half-an-hour, then took the ferry back to St. Mary’s. 

Definitely an enjoyable day and like we said, we’ll be back to do more of the island another time.
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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