This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own. :)
Only a five hour drive from Atlanta, Zach and I hopped in the car with the dogs and headed to Jekyll Island for a long weekend getaway. Being our first time there, we used the Jekyll Island website to plan our trip. Although the island is small, it’s packed with plenty to do that will keep you going the whole time. It’s extremely clean, quiet (perhaps because we went before school let out for the summer), and one of the most dog friendly places I’ve ever been - woohoo!
We stayed in a spacious suite at the ocean-front Holiday Inn Resort. Our balcony overlooked the ocean so every morning we spent some time waking up to the sound of waves hitting the shore. The room came with two queen sized beds, a kitchenette (full-sized fridge, microwave, stove top, and sink), two tv’s, and the living room had pull-out couch. If cooking is more your vibe, this is the way to go. You won’t find any big-box grocery stores on the island, so you may want to bring some groceries with you. You can also pick up a variety of groceries and local provisions at the nearby Jekyll Market or hit a larger grocery story right before the entrance to the island. Parking was easy, and the property featured several gas fire pits, a kids’ playground, a gorgeous pool, cabana sitting areas, a coffee and martini bar, fitness center, several beach access points, bike rentals, and a dog-friendly restaurant called “Beach House” on site.
We are the type of people who like to stay active on vacation and bring our dogs as much as possible so we tried to fit in as much in as possible and adjusted as necessary considering there was a bit of rain for a few days while we were there. First on the list was taking our dogs to the beach! It was drizzling when we got in on Friday afternoon but after we settled in we took the dogs out to the beach right outside of our hotel. They LOVED it and we ran up and down the beach with them. This was also the day we realized the tides change quite noticeably on the island which was unique to see.
Saturday was filled with sunshine so we hit up the Summer Waves Waterpark first thing in the morning and checked out all of the slides! That afternoon we ventured around Beach Village which is a small shopping center featuring several restaurants, shops, and Jekyll Market. Lastly we caught the beautiful sunset while exploring Driftwood Beach. This beach is dog-friendly and filled with the remains of fallen trees due to many years of erosion. It’s one of the most photogenic places we went and was voted one of America’s “Ten Most Romantic Beaches.”
Sunday stormed so our hotel lost power a few times so it was PERFECT that we had tickets to go behind- the- scenes at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Because they take care of animals, they have generators to continuously power the hospital. Although the general entry gives you an inside look at turtle care and is open rain or shine, I HIGHLY recommend the behind-the-scenes tour. We happened to be in the vet area when they brought in a turtle who needed blood work done which was incredible to witness! You also get to see where the food is kept, see the other turtles not out on public view, and ask all of the questions you want - it was truly an incredible thing to experience. During the lighter drizzle times, we walked around the Historic District admiring the beautiful historic buildings and large trees covered in Spanish Moss. That evening, when the weather had cleared up, we took a spontaneous sunset dolphin tour with hilarious husband-and-wife duo tour guides. We saw a ton of birds, learned all about the ecosystem of the island, learned a little history, and of course saw dolphins at sunset!
Knowing the weather on Monday was going to be incredibly sunny, but we had to check out by 11, we woke up early to take full advantage of the time we had left. We finally rented bikes and took advantage of the islands 25 miles of paved bike paths. These paths almost always keep you separate from the road allowing for you to venture out on a bike with the family in a very safe way. This made for a unique and beautiful way to see the island! Of course, we ended our trip with one last visit to the beach with the pups and said goodbye to a wonderful weekend getaway.
Below are a few bullet lists for dog friendly places, activities we did and didn’t do, and a few extra tips!
Although not a full list, here are a few dog friendly places that we visited while on Jekyll Island:
The Holiday Inn Resort
Oceanview Beach Park of the Holiday Inn Resort
Walking through the beautiful Historic District
The expansive bike path is also shared by dog walkers and runners alike
Sunrise Grille Restaurant
Beach House Restaurant
Tortuga Jacks Mexican Restaurant
To note, there are plenty of other places to eat that have outside seating, but because they aren’t full service restaurants it would require you to either tie up your dog outside while you go in, or have an additional person to wait outside while you go inside to order. To name a few: all of the places inside of the Jekyll Market including Hibiscus Cafe, Boardwalk Deli, The Love Shack BBQ, and A Sweet Shop Named Sprinkles. Fuse for froyo, The Westin Cafe for Starbucks coffee, and Red Bug Motors Pizza and Pub. My recommendation is to call ahead if you aren’t sure.
Activities that kept us moving and a few others we didn’t get to:
Summer Waves Waterpark
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Stand-up Paddle Boarding/Kayaking
Mini golf and/or regular golf
Mosaic, the Jekyll Island Museum
A few extra tips:
Heads up, there is a parking pass that you must purchase when you first arrive.
Bring bug spray or purchase the local spray called “No Natz” found at several local stores.
Dogs must be leashed at all times and the leashes can’t be longer than 16ft. So happy about this so other people’s dogs can’t just come up to yours and cause a potentially dangerous situation.
Dogs are allowed on beaches except South Beach between South Dunes Picnic Area and 2,000' northeast of St. Andrews Sound Picnic Area, to protect nesting shore birds..
Be careful about walking out to the sand bars on the beach as the tide rolls in and out 8 feet every six and a half hours. Also, plan your beach visits accordingly as I had no clue about the tide and there are times when the water completely covers the sand. Mother Nature is so cool!
The water is not clear, but it’s not because of pollution. In fact, the water is very nutrient dense which allows for all of the thriving wildlife!
If you’re a fellow lover of Jekyll Island and have any recommendations that we missed, please leave them in the comments below so myself and others can enjoy during their next trip!