Road Trip: Cumberland Island

Maritime forests, ancient ruins and wild horses aren’t common features associated with the Peach State, though they exist for those who go searching. Searching where, you may ask? Nowhere other than the Cumberland Island National Seashore, a pristine and protected slice of oceanic paradise.

How the mystical band of horses came to live on the island remains a mystery. Most assume they arrived around the same time as the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century. The case of the Cumberland Islands horses is unique because history proves that they were domesticated at one time but reverted back to their wild state with no help from island residents. Through the process, they adopted a unique set of skills like the ability to drink salt water instead of fresh.

As you explore the island, expect to encounter majestic sightings like a foal drinking its first sips of ocean water or a stallion stampede racing beside sand dunes. But you’ll discover much more than the iconic free-range horses on Cumberland Island. Wander one of the island’s hiking trails with boots on the ground, rent a bike to cover miles of sandy terrain in minutes or put in and paddle to get up close and personal with the marine wildlife. As you zip across the island (via boat, bike or boot), don’t miss the crystal blue waters of the Atlantic, the shade provided by wispy oak trees, a glimpse of the Dungeness estate ruins and maybe even a wild hog sighting.

If you’re sold on a getaway to this otherworldly island, it’s time to start planning. For a truly immersive experience, stay on the island. Adventurous souls can camp out in the wild, while those who prefer the modern luxuries of home can book a room at the Greyfield Inn. Spots at both are limited and go fast, so plan far in advance. If you’re ok with a bit of travel time to and from the island, Amelia Island offers perfect proximity and pastimes (and two barrier islands for the price of one)! To access Cumberland Island, you must book a roundtrip ride on the St. Mary’s Ferry ahead of time.

With extraordinary wildlife sightings, 17 miles of virtually untouched beach, mosscovered ruins and a tropical climate, a trip to Cumberland Island is unlike any other beach trip. A natural phenomenon lies just outside our door, waiting to be explored. So, answer the call and make Cumberland your next island escape.