Nick and I have wanted to visit Cumberland Island for a long time – just never thought we would visit from a sailboat! It’s only accessible by boat and most of the property is protected seashore under the National Park Service. The history is deep and the adventures are many – from chasing crabs, exploring the lands, walking the beach or hunting for sharks teeth . . . and these are only the things we were able to do in three days! The island is still home to a handful of mansions owned by the heirs of some of America’s most affluent families.
Much of the island is still covered by a natural canopy of live oaks and palms – all covered in Spanish moss. Dunes rise from the east side of the island separating the long stand of beach and natural forest. Camping is allowed on the island in provided campsites. The seacamp is located just on the other side of the dunes from the beach and the sites are in and among the sprawling live oaks whose branches grow low to the ground to stay out of the salty air. On the river side of the island there is strong current, the two docks kept by the National Park Service and the canopy is taller since it is more protected from the ocean breeze.
The pathways are timeless and you can walk right beside wild horses, turkey and you may even see some armadillos! The ruins of Dungeness – a mansion built by the Carnegies in the 1800s, are open to the public to wander around. There are paths to the ocean beaches, the salt marshes and through the island. On the south side of the island you can walk through the piles of dredged materials from the waterway and find tons of prehistoric sharks teeth! This does not even mention all the sites and history from the north side of this 18 mile island!
While there we walked and walked and walked! Felt so good to get out and walk not in a city. Ethan chased the crabs all across the salt marsh at low tide and we searched for sharks teeth each day. We walked along the beach and around all the ruins. Ethan swam and jumped in every tidal pool he could find! We found a ton of shells and we climbed in a huge live oak with branches that touched the ground.
Cumberland Island is a very special place for us that we plan to visit again. They do have shuttles that run each day for folks to visit from the mainland – mostly from St. Mary’s. For more information click this link http://www.nps.gov/cuis/index.htm.