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“Peace, beauty, and a beach”

Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Island known for its wide beaches and variety of outdoor activities.
Reviewed May 23, 2013

First you should know the National Park Service limits the number of visitors to Cumberland Island and you have to take a ferry to reach it; so book your ferry ticket in advance. No cars except for the Park Service are on the island.When you arrive at the departure point, St Mary's GA, pick up a sandwich lunch to take with you for the day. You will also want to bring water, bug spray, sunscreen, and a swimsuit and towel. Wear clothes for comfortable walking - flip flops are not advised. Once the island was a vacation place for the Carnegie family. Now the homes they built with the exception of one, which was turned into a hotel in 1962, are in ruins. Dungeness House is the easiest to reach, an easy walk from the first ferry stop. There are picnic benches so it is a lovely place to have your lunch. Wild horses roam the island and it is common to see them gently walking and grazing throughout your time on the island. We saw a mother and colt while having our lunch at Dungeness. It is important to remember all wildlife on Cumberland Island is exactly that - wild. So photograph all you want, but do not feed or approach the animals too closely. From Dungeness we walked the trail to the Sea Camp Beach. There are bathrooms, change rooms and showers just before you reach the beach. That is where we finished our perfect outing to Cumberland Island. After a warm, muggy, and buggy walk the Atlantic felt fabulous. All too soon we had to catch the last ferry back to the mainland. There is much more to visit on the island, but the northern part where the Baptist Church and Plum Orchard House are is several miles from the second ferry stop. You can rent bicycles as well as walk, but be certain you can cover the over 14 miles round trip to return for the last departing ferry. That was not an outing I felt physically fit enough to do, but one day I would love to return and stay at the hotel, Greyfield's and make the journey to the north part of the island, perhaps in a cooler season. Regardless of when you visit you will find a beautiful, tranquil spot where pleasures are simple and timeless.

1  Thank ekitty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"ferry ride"
in 77 reviews
"sea camp"
in 106 reviews
"van tour"
in 51 reviews
"day trip"
in 88 reviews
"bug spray"
in 69 reviews
"the national park service"
in 37 reviews
"wild horses"
in 248 reviews
"sand dunes"
in 23 reviews
"dungeness ruins"
in 79 reviews
"private boat"
in 12 reviews
"rented bikes"
in 24 reviews
"south end of the island"
in 17 reviews
"ferry leaves"
in 8 reviews
"barrier island"
in 20 reviews
"ranger station"
in 15 reviews
"plum orchard"
in 72 reviews
"lots of water"
in 11 reviews

551 - 555 of 727 reviews

Reviewed May 23, 2013

Clunky reservations system, makes mistakes that are not noticeable because all the information is not on the printed receipt that comes after payment for ferry trip. They booked me on a van tour which started two hours before the boat trip would even get to the island.

This is not a trip for those who expect all the conveniences of the other islands on the GA coast that are road accessible. Look on it as an adventure. Look for comfort somewhere else. It can get very hot in summer, in my opinion not the best season to visit, if you have any other option.

The van tour seems to concentrate on the 3 H's: history, hogs, and horses, none of which was the primary reason it was made a national park. Not enough natural history information available.

Seems like more money is going into the least visited place, Plum Orchard, while the Sea Camp facilities are a little run down. Needs some sprucing up, replace grubby signs, etc, especially since most visitors go here.. Wouldn't take much money to do this,

This was a disappointing visit from the view point of bird populations, which have declined everywhere, not just on this island. So sad now to come to hear the "dawn chorus," which used to be amazing in spring. The walk down island trails and road, though, looks the same. Very picturesque live oaks with spanish moss and palmetto. Nice boardwalk thru the marsh.

Also, the Navy may improve the local economic conditions in this county but their constant dredging is not good for shrimping and other creatures who use the intracoastal waterway areas as nurseries. And now they are setting up a submarine warfare training area in a gigantic area offshore, which is the subject of an environmental lawsuit. I wish I could say the environment will win, but the military always gets what they want. Now you can walk along the beach and hear underwater blasting offshore. Nice. And who are we going to have a submarine war with? Just disgusting that so much money is wasted and environmental damage done for no good reason.

So why did I give it a very good rating? Because the way things are going in the environment, the best we are going to get is compromised places.

And by the way, educational information is available at two places in St. Marys: the visitor center on the waterfront near the tour boat and the museum about two blocks away. The visitor center concentrates on natural history, but many people do not arrive in time to look at it, and get back after it is closed. The museum is easy to miss, concentrates on history.

1  Thank linda023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 17, 2013

Unless you are an avid hiker with a hearty constitution, the Lands and Legacies guided/motorized tour is your best option--for exploring the northern end of Cumberland Island. Unless you are traveling on your own boat, a junket by ferry out of Saint Marys, Georgia, is the only way to get there. Though showing signs of age, the inside of the cabin with booths and tables--like a diner--is comfortable. Note for non-swimmers: overhead storage is well supplied with life-saving flotation devices, however, neither of the crew of two showed us how to use them, nor could I find any written directions posted. The ferry makes two stops on the island. The first is Dungeness, the second Sea Camp. If you chose the Lands and Legacies Tour, stay on board for Sea Camp. Enjoy the scenery around the visitors' center while you wait for your tour guide. We were ten passengers, eight of them seniors, who piled into a van. Not an easy feat since when the door was opened, it blocked the two back seats. Only the thinnest four passengers could squeeze through the narrow space. A passenger in the third seat from the back, held up a safety belt so the four could pass under it. I have endured much worse, as had our well-traveled group, still, getting in and out a number of times in order to take part in the many discoveries along the itinerary soon lost its charms. A driving rain the night before had already filled the heavily rutted dirt roadways and soaked the ground as well. The long drive to Plum Orchard was bumpy and at times jarring and jolting. Many questions were asked by those seated in front of us, but all we heard through our ear buds were the answers. At the first opportunity I asked the tour guide if she would mind repeating the questions for those of us in the back, and though she agreed, she never did repeat a single one. From her answers I got that she was well versed in the wildlife and history of Cumberland, but in questions about forestry we heard a lot of "I don't know", "I'm not aware", and her favorite explanation heard over and over "we just don't have the money to . . . " whatever. Regretfully, despite the unfortunate recurring rain and while the island's claim of wilderness (which I cherish) is authentic, the Lands and Legacies Tour failed to live up to expectations. In addition, for those who prefer steps with handrails, some of the sites visited did not have them.
Recommended: if you are planning a spring or fall weekend visit, book well ahead of time as weekends are at a premium. Confirm all your reservations a few days before your planned arrival. Had I not done that, we would have been in for a rude surprise. Our hotel package included the ferry fee and the reservations for Cumberland (upon a $40.00 deposit).
Not recommended: for those with special needs. I hope to return to beautiful, historic Saint Marys for a dozen reasons I had not planned enough time to explore.

4  Thank Barbara C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 14, 2013

Cumberland Island is one of those places everyone should experience. We did the day trip from 9-2:45 which was plenty of time. 2:45 ferry isn't every day so call to confirm times. Keep in mind the island is over 17 miles long so if you want to see more than you can walk, there is a van tour you can take. We got off the ferry at the Dungeness dock, walked across the island to the beach, then to Sea Camp Beach, Sea Camp dock and then back to Dungeness dock along the river trail. We saw probably 25 wild horses, close to Dungeness and on the beach. Their beauty and grace were amazing. The interior of the island where there are camp sites is also beautiful, canopied with trees and Spanish moss. No food or drinks to purchase for campers and day visitors. So bring your own food and drinks and be prepared to bring your trash back off with you. Several public restrooms. No shelters on the beach for shade so be prepared if you plan to spend time on the beach. Lots of walking. Bikes can be rented, but where you are allowed to ride them is limited. No bikes on beach. Beach is beautiful and serene. About a 45 minute ferry ride from St Mary's to CI. There is a ferry fee and a park entrance fee.
If you want to stay overnight and not camp, there is one B&B.
We stayed on Amelia Island and it was very convenient. You could also easily get to St Mary's if you stayed on Jekyll Island or St Simons Island.

5  Thank J M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 14, 2013

As a traveler who has learned the hard way who to take advice from, I know that visiting Cumberland can be an amazing trip. First, go to the National Park Service website. They have all they information you need. Do NOT rely on any other websites to give you the correct information about camping, what you can and can't take, the distance or other needs. As part of the media, we toured with a ranger and that's the advice we heard over and over. Another, is to know your hiking ability. You will walk everywhere. Bikes are only available on roads, not on trails or in camps. Sea Camp is 1/4 mile walk. Dungeness, about a mile. Plum Orchard is about an 8 mile walk. You can't miss the African Church, a 17 mile walk. Access to the beach is always a walk. Know your hiking and walking ability. Just because you're a scout or was a scout doesn't mean you can survive (comfortably) in what is honestly a wilderness. With all that said, do your research and enjoy one of the most untouched, breath-taking places on the planet. Day trips are good to enjoy Sea Camp, Dungeness and the beach. More time will allow you to explore the other campsites and the historical ruins. Stay in St. Marys for the day trip or camp for a weekend. If you truly want Cumberland in all its glory, opt for camping rather than the Greyfield. Plan months ahead. Spring is the busy season. Summer is slow due to heat and bugs. Bucket list definitely!

6  Thank Judith G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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