Camping, Not Glamping: A Girls Trip To Cumberland Island

{Full video of our trip found here}

If there’s one thing about traveling with a friend, it has to be the right friend. My friend Stephanie and I met in 3rd grade when I asked if I could eat lunch with her and we’ve been having lunch dates the past 13 years. She has a very adventurous spirit, and I’m thankful for it. So when she said “we should go camping”, I said why not since we’ve never taken a big trip together and in the fall my life will be consumed by grad school. Stephanie randomly came across a place called Cumberland Island in Georgia, and being the lover of the south that I am, got excited to explore more of it.

Stephanie has experience camping, however, I did not so we decided to make our 4-day vacay half luxury and half “roughing it”. Cumberland Island only has a certain number of campsites, so all sites must be reserved in advance (apparently, during the busy months you must reserve spots up to 5-6 months prior). The way our schedules worked out, we reserved two nights at a hotel on Jekyll Island and the next two on Cumberland camping, which, in hindsight, we think next time a better idea would be to camp first and then chill in luxury to end the trip on a good note 😉

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Bless Your Heart tank from Lauren James

Jekyll Island can be accessed by car (unlike Cumberland which requires a 45 minute ferry ride) and is populated with hotels, restaurants, gift shoppes, and amazing beach access. Since we visited during the spring it wasn’t crowded and we even had a whole beach to ourselves for the most part of a day. 10/10 would recommend vacationing here for the rest of forever.

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After two glorious days on Jekyll’s beaches and by the pool, it was time to pack up and do what we actually came to do- go camping. The only way to get to Cumberland Island is by a ferry that leaves from St. Mary’s. Side note: you cannot take your car with you, so if hiking for miles doesn’t sound like your thing you can take your bike or rent one.

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The ferry only leaves a couple times during the day and you have to make a reservation for that too, so be sure to get there half an hour early to pick up your tickets and go through “orientation” with the park ranger. The ferry stops at a few locations on the island. I suggest getting off at Sea Camp (as well as camping there) because there are bathrooms and the beach access isn’t far. If you’re not up for camping, you can get off the ferry early in the morning and return at either 2:45/4:45 that afternoon.

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We were pleasantly surprised to find that although the campsites are all in the same location, they seem quite isolated because of the bushes surrounding each site. You can request a small, medium, or large campsite- we got a small and could have easily fit two tents on it. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and steel cage off the ground to store your food (raccoons are a big problem, and even though we were warned, we found out the hard way when they got into our trash each night).

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Other than the ranger station, there’s no “civilization” on the island, so you need to bring ALL of your supplies with you. This also includes firewood. Stephanie and I ate rice krispy treats and beef jerky for two days because we didn’t have the firewood to make a fire and cook real food (oops, LOL).

If feeling clean is important to you, I will say that the showers are freezing, so consider that when deciding how long you’ll stay. 😉

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There’s a main road that runs through the island that will lead you straight to Dungeness dock and ruins. If you’re lucky, you’ll share the road with wild horses on the way like we did 🙂 After day one, we were at the point that we considered throwing in the towel, but later decided to push on and follow the dirt road, and we’re so glad we did.

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In the two days that we were there, we were able to see the beach as well as explore Dungeness, however, there were miles and miles of trials and other spots we didn’t get to see, like the mansion and cemetery.

Overall, we were exhausted by the end of it and ready to hit up the closest Chick-fil-a BUT it was a fun experience and now we have a lot of stories to tell 😉

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