Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Things To Do

Guided Tours

“Footsteps” Tour
Ranger-guided tours of the Dungeness Historic District are conducted daily and begin at Dungeness Dock at approximately 10:00am and 12:45pm. Each tour lasts about an hour, and concludes at the restroom and picnic area. Self-guided trail maps are also available at the boat house.

“Plum Orchard” Tour
Visit an early 1900's home that echoes memories of the Carnegie families. Tours depart by ferry from Sea Camp on the second and fourth Sunday of each month at 12:30pm. Ferry passengers may purchase tickets for an additional $6 at check in or on the ferry at the time of the trip. Campers and hikers are welcome to meet up with the tour which begins on the Plum Orchard steps at approximately 1:30pm.

“Dockside” Tour
A daily 30 minute program is presented at 4:00pm at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. The programs highlight a variety of cultural and natural history topics and are often seasonal.

Campfires and Crafts
The summer schedule also includes daily craft programs at 2:00pm at Sea Camp Ranger Station, and evening programs on Saturday nights at the Sea Camp Campground.

Places To Go

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

Plum Orchard 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.

 

 

Nearby Attractions

City of St. Marys, GA - St. Marys, Georgia, the gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a small coastal village located in southeast Georgia remains one of Georgia's best kept secrets, a place rich in history, natural beauty and Southern hospitality. St. Marys and Cumberland Island National Seashore provide a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Okefenokee Swamp - The wonderland of the Okefenokee is a significant part of America's heritage, a beautifully preserved segment of what was here when America began. Headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys' rivers, Okefenokee is a National Wildlife Refuge which covers nearly a half million acres. Okefenokee Swamp Park is a convenient point of entry and a magnificent show-window for the "Land of the Trembling Earth."

St. Marys Submarine Museum - This museum is a great place to learn about the "Silent Service". A wide variety of Submarine artifacts, memorabilia and information are available for viewing, and you can view the beautiful St Marys waterfront through a real periscope.

Crooked River State Park - Located on Georgia's Colonial Coast, this park offers cozy facilities in a beautiful setting. Campsites are surrounded by Spanish moss-draped oaks, while most cottages overlook the river. Hikers can explore the nature trail, which winds through a maritime forest and salt marsh. A boat ramp is popular with anglers who often take to the water before sunrise.

For a safe enjoyable journey prepare yourself by wearing comfortable shoes, packing a lunch, snacks, and drinking water, using bug repellent, wearing sunscreen and/or hat protection, and finally pacing yourself, especially in summer heat. Beach accessible wheelchairs are available. Please advise at check-in that if you would like to request a chair.

Island transportation is not provided, so please plan on walking for all activities. Bicycles are available for rent at Sea Camp. You must check with the Ferry deck hands to rent bicycles, Park Service staff does not handle bike rentals.

Outdoor Activities

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 seven days. Back country sites are $2.00 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
Sea Camp Campground is $4.00 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
Stafford camp sites are $4.00 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

Six public hunts are held during Georgia's hunting seasons. The hunts are advertised in newspapers and a lottery drawing is held to select participants. Contact the Chief Ranger at (912) 882-4336 ext258 for more information or visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com for liscense and weapon information.

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, oystercatchers, pelicans, 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. 


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.

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.

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.