Visit Cumberland Island National Park Seashore - Sun, sand, beautiful vistas and a relaxing atmosphere await you! Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. Stay and Play in Georgia!
Pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes whisper the stories of both man and nature. Come walk in the footsteps of early natives, explorers, and wealthy industrialists.
Cumberland Island Activities
Island Attractions Dungeness Ruins - Revolutionary War Hero General Nathanial Greene purchased land on Cumberland Island in 1783. Following his death, his widow Catherine Greene, constructed a four-story tabby home that she named Dungeness. Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy began building another Dungeness on the original foundation in 1884. The Carnegie’s Dungeness burned in 1959 and today only the ruins remain on the site.
Plum Orchard Mansion is an 1898 Georgian Revival mansion building by Lucy Carnegie for her son, George and his wife, Margaret Thaw. This mansion was donated to the National Park Foundation by the Carnegie family in 1971. The contribution of Plum Orchard helped achieve congressional approval for establishing Cumberland Island National Seashore.
First African Baptist Church in the Settlement - In the 1890’s, The Settlement was established for African American workers. The First African Baptist Church was established in 1893 and then rebuilt in the 1930’s. It was the site of the September 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.
Junior Ranger Program - Available for ages 4-12. – Learn about Cumberland Island by becoming a Junior Ranger. An activity booklet can be obtained at the mainland visitor center or at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. After completing the activities, check with a ranger to receive your Junior Ranger badge and certificate.
Hiking - A total of 50 miles of hiking trails meander through maritime forests, interior wetlands, historic districts, marsh ecosystems, and the beautiful beaches. Trails are accessible only by foot. The roadways allow vehicle and bicycle use.
Trails at the south end include Dungeness Trail, a ranger led or self-guided walk through the Dungeness Historic District, River Trail(a short walk from Dungeness Dock to Sea Camp), Nightingale Trail offers another view of a maritime forest, while the South End trail is an interesting collision of ecosystems.
Traveling north on the dirt shell road, Grande Avenue takes you through the heart of the island under a draping canopy of live oaks, forest floors packed with palmetto, tall stands of stately pines, open fields, tidal creeks, fresh water wetlands and lakes, Plum Orchard Mansion, and culminating at the site of the First African Baptist Church located in the Settlement at the north end of Cumberland Island. For a true backcountry experience, consider taking trails and staying off the main road.
Camping - Both developed and wilderness camping is available. Reservations are encouraged and may be made up to six months in advance. All camping is limited to seven days. Spring and late fall are peak seasons. Entrance fees, camping fees and ferry fees are additional.
Backcountry Camping - Observe and practice LEAVE NO TRACE principles. NO FIRES, TREAT WATER, PACK OUT TRASH. Camping is limited to 7 days. Back country sites are $2 per person per night. There are no facilities at the backcountry sites and water must be treated. Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry and portable stoves are suggested. The three backcountry sites range from 5.5 to 10.5 miles from the Sea Camp ferry dock. Sites are assigned upon arrival.
Hickory Hill: 5.5 miles from Sea Camp, in the heart of the island, offers a fascinating close encounter with an intriguing interior freshwater wetland and its wildlife. Due to being located in a wetland area, bugs are often prevalent. Yankee Paradise: 7.5 miles from Sea Camp, also in the center of the island and a half days walk to and from the Plum Orchard Mansion. Brickhill Bluff: 10.5 miles from Sea Camp, located on the Brickhill River. A favorite place for seeing dolphins and manatees.
Sea Camp Campground is $4 per person per night. The campground at Sea Camp has restroom facilities with cold water showers, a small amphitheater for ranger programs, and boardwalk access to the beach. This campground consists of 16 individual camp sites and two group sites. Group sites can accommodate 10-20 people. Each campsite has a grill, fire ring, food cage, and picnic table. Sites are assigned upon arrival.
Stafford Campground sites are $4 per person per night and are located 3.5 miles from the Sea Camp Ranger Station. Restrooms, showers, and fire rings are available at the site. Fire rings are on a first come first serve basis.
Hunting - 6 public hunts are held during Georgia's hunting seasons. The hunts are advertised in newspapers and participants are selected on a first come first serve basis. Contact the Chief Ranger at (912) 882-4336 ext258 for more information or visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com for liscense and weapon information. For a copy of this year's hunt information, click here.
To register for a hunt, please go to www.pay.gov and type "Cumberland" in the search box located on the left hand side of the screen under the section entitled "Find Public Forms". From the search results, select "Cumberland Island Managed Hunt" and follow the onscreen instructions to fill in the form.
Fishing - Anyone 16 or older must possess a Georgia Fishing License to fish. These can be obtained at over 1,000 locations in Georgia. Call 1-888-748-6887 or go to www.gofishgeorgia.com for more information. Anglers enjoy numerous fishing opportunities including stream fishing for trout, bobbing for Blue Gill and Bass in freshwater lakes, shore and deep sea fishing, and gathering shrimp and crabs from the marshes.
Star Gazing - The island's beaches and open fields provide wonderful unobstructed views for stargazing. Campers are welcome to bring their telescopes.
Photography - Opportunities for photography are endless. Numerous historic structures and ruins scatter the island. Sunrise at the beach, sunset over the marsh, tangled vines connecting forest canopies to dappled forest floors, jumbles of Saw Palmetto, gnarled live oak limbs, either bare bones dead or filled with abundant plant life, various animals scurrying about, and interesting cultural and natural features, all provide excellent subjects for photos.
Bird Watching - As a favorite stopping point on the transatlantic migratory flyway, over 335 species of birds have been recorded on Cumberland Island, including threatened and endangered species such as the Least Tern, Wilson’s Plover and American Oystercatcher.
Pelican Banks, the southernmost point of the island is a favorite place for black skimmers, pelicans, oyster catchers, and numerous ducks and other shore birds. The fresh water pond areas provide excellent rookeries for wood storks, white ibis, herons and egrets. In the forest canopy, you can also see warblers, buntings, wrens, and woodpeckers. On the shores, osprey, peregrine falcons, and occasionally bald eagles and golden eagles are often spotted. Bring your binoculars and a field guide for a glimpse of some of these beautiful island inhabitants.
Beach Combing - Collecting sharks teeth and unoccupied sea shells is allowed. Beach findings are most successful after a strong surf or storm and may include coquinas, disc clams, heart cockles, ark shells, moon snails, and an occasional sand dollar or olive shell. If time allows, scour the beach south of Dungeness Beach crossing all the way around the south end of the island.
Campers have an advantage over day visitors of having more time to explore the island. Sharks teeth can often be found in the roads because the roads are conditioned with dredge fill. One can also locate them at low tide on the marsh side between the Dungeness and Sea Camp docks
Swimming - Swimming is allowed anywhere on the island. Be advised that you swim at your own risk. There are no lifeguards at any location. Unless a hurricane or strong storm is near, riptides tend to be minimal. Be advised that fresh water ponds are home to snakes and alligators.
Wildlife Viewing - Numerous species call Cumberland Island home.
From threatened and endangered manatees and sea turtles to over 300 species of birds, the sights are endless on Cumberland Island. Often on a single trip, visitors may see wild turkeys, armadillos, feral horses, vultures, dolphins, and lizards all in the same day. To experience the more elusive white tail deer, bobcats, and otters one should consider camping. Animal activity is often greater at dawn and dusk and camping allows you to be “on location” during these hours. Birding is often good at the south end at Pelican Banks, as well as on the marsh edge in the interior wetlands. Often visitors can simply find a spot to sit quietly and before long one of the islands creatures will surely be viewed.
Private Boating - Visitors may charter a boat or bring personal boats. Day use docking is available at the north end of both Dungeness and Sea Camp docks but only a limited amount of space is available and the slips are on a first come first served basis. Visitors are asked to deposit $4 per person in the entrance fee box upon arrival. No overnight docking is permitted. Shore tying is acceptable, however be aware of oyster beds and tidal changes.
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the marsh. Kayakers or other private boaters interested in camping will still need reservations for camping and are required to pick up their camping permit at the mainland visitor center. Be prepared; always check tides and weather before disembarking. A compass or GPS unit can be very helpful and make a difference in your journey.
Biking - Bikes are available for rent at the Sea Camp Dock for a fee of $16 per day for adult bikes and $20 overnight for campers. Bicycle rentals are on a first come first serve basis. See the ferry deck hands about bike rentals. You may also bring your own bikes to the island on a private or charter boat but they are not permitted on the ferry. Call the reservation number to arrange for a charter. Rented bikes are not allowed on the beach and all bikes must stay on designated roads. Trails are for pedestrian traffic only. As with all of your outings on Cumberland Island, be prepared, have a map, and know the distances of your destinations. Respect private property and keep hydrated.
Operating Hours & Seasons
Visitor Center is open daily 8am to 4:30 pm, Monday - Sunday. Park facilities are closed for Christmas on December 25. Cumberland Island is located 7 miles east of St. Marys, Georgia, and is only accessible by water. A concession operated passenger ferry departs from St. Marys. The ferry boat schedule follows: (Reservations Recommended) Spring/Summer/Fall (March 1st to November 30th) – The ferry departs St. Marys at 9:00am and 11:45am, and departs from Cumberland Island at 10:15am and 4:45pm. (March 1 to September 30 - Wednesday through Saturday there is also a 2:45 p.m. departure from the island.) Winter (December 1st to February 28th) - The ferry does not operate on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and there is no 2:45pm departure from the island. However, the two departure times from St. Marys and Cumberland Island remain the same.
The ferry does not transport pets, bicycles, kayaks, or cars. Charter services are available through NPS concessionaire. Reservations are required for Ferry Ride and camping.
Fees & Reservations
Ferry Fees - $17 Adult, $12 for 12 and under, $15 Senior [65 and over]. No pets are allowed.
Back Country Camping Fees - $4 person per day. Campers are required to pay Entrance Fee. Sea Camp Fees - $4 person per day. Campers are required to pay the Entrance Fee. Entrance Fees - $4 per visit. No entrance fees will be collected from individuals under the age of 16 years old. No camping fees will be collected from individuals under the age of 2 years old
Phone & Directions to Island
Phone: 912-882-4336 ext. 254 - Directions: Follow Hwy 40 East off Interstate 95 to St. Marys. The visitor center and ferry dock are located at the waterfront.
Interesting Cumberland Island Facts
There are many endangered species that rely on barrier islands such as Cumberland. They include wood storks, piping plovers, least terns, gopher tortoises, manatees and sea turtles.
Cumberland Island’s human history spans nearly 4000 years and features time periods including early native peoples, the Colonial expansion, the Plantation Era, the Gilded Age and finally its designation as a protected National Seashore.
The First African Baptist Church was established in 1893, and rebuilt in the 1930’s. The church was the site of the September 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.
Each summer Cumberland Island National Seashore participates in a Youth Conservation Corps program. This program is designed to promote environmental awareness and management of our natural resources. The participants are selected from the local high school and are between the ages of 15 and 18.
Cumberland Island contains 4 major historic districts and 87 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the oldest known ceramics in North America and shell middens from early natives.
Cumberland Island provides important habitat for a number of species including threatened and endangered shore birds such as American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Wilson’s Plovers. The island is an important stopover point for migrating birds on the transatlantic migratory flyway.
Cumberland Island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. The island has one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the United States and one of the largest wilderness areas in a National Seashore on the east coast.