Treasure Hunting on Jekyll Island

There are two kinds of treasures in this world; those you hold in your hand, and those you hold in your heart. Jekyll Island, GA is where you can find both.

From January 1st, through the end of February, Jekyll Island is visited by thousands of treasure hunters. The marketing campaign was devised in 2002 to attract visitors to this island paradise and to encourage exploration of its natural beauty and history. The prize, should you be lucky enough to find one of the 250 treasures, is a one-of-a-kind, hand crafted glass globe, or float as they were referred to in the 1900’s by local fishermen. source Approximately 4 to 5 floats are hidden each day during the two month period.

The globes that are actually hidden are made of clear plastic and have instructions printed on a tag and tucked inside. Finders are asked to bring the clear globe to Visitors Center and redeem it for the real thing. The Visitor’s Center provides a map, of sorts, which defines where to look for treasure, and more importantly, where NOT to look, such as on private property, unmarked trails, and the local golf course. The annual treasure hunt is a pretty big deal, and there is even a FB Group (Jekyll Island Treasures Fan Club) dedicated to sharing information, including photos of winners and locations of where globes have been found.

hidden treasure with instructions

Malcolm and I have been visiting Jekyll Island for years, and while we don’t need an excuse beyond its natural beauty, we do enjoy the added excitement of the treasure hunt and February has become our favorite time to visit.

This year, we clocked about 60 miles on our bikes while riding on an island that is less than 7 miles long. With over 25 miles of bike trails, biking is the best way to experience the treasure hunt, and the island. The main trail takes you past the historic district, where you will see the famed Jekyll Island Club, which opened in 1888. Its magnificent Live Oak trees, a croquet lawn and several restored cottages, add to the splendor of the grounds and remind us of the elite group who developed this island as their personal sanctuary.

The island was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1948 and the Jekyll Island Club, remained unused and eventually fell into disrepair. It re-opened as a hotel in 1987, and has been the central focus of the historic district since that time. Like most historic hotels, the rooms are small, but the shared spaces and multiple porches are perfect for gathering or being alone. The Crane Cottage (pictured below) is a popular wedding venue. Several other cottages on the grounds have been restored and can be toured.

Trolley Tours Available Daily

Back on the bike path now and rounding the north end of the island you’ll see the fishing pier, marsh trail, Driftwood beach, Great Dunes park and a series of stunning beaches. At the center of Beach Village is the Westin hotel, where Malcolm and I like to exit the paved trail and ride on the sand to Andrews Beach, which is on the Southwest end of the island. It’s a pretty easy ride at low tide, but you will need to pay attention and exit via one of the dune walk-overs before Andrews Beach if the water is rising. We learned this from personal experience! My one regret from this miss-adventure is that I didn’t take any photos of us navigating around the incoming water and fallen trees that blocked our path.

We did not find an island treasure this year, but we did bring home a deeper understanding of what makes Jekyll Island so special and why it compels us to return. This is a peaceful, virtually unspoiled barrier island that celebrates and protects its history and environment. It delights the senses and uplifts the soul. Those are its true treasures.

Jekyll Island has an interesting history that dates back to 1500 BC – too much to share in a post about a treasure hunt. I do hope you will take a look at the timeline here to learn more about this beautiful island.

Shared with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share here.

36 Comments on “Treasure Hunting on Jekyll Island

  1. This place has been on my mental Must Visit List ever since I read a novel set on Jekyll Island. I can’t remember anything else about the novel, but the island was embedded in my brain so that tells you something, I guess…LOL! Your post has only intensified this feeling. Beautiful! Thank you, Suzanne.

    Deb

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  2. What fun! Such a beautiful place to visit. I love how you have managed to bike so many miles in such a small place. Your photos make me want to visit it soon, once we can travel again, of course.

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    • Ally, we circumnavigated the island more than once, and we rode the East/West trails that cut through the marsh and forest several times as well. We always discover at least one trail that we have never ridden. The gator picture is from Horton Pond, a newly discovered trail that we couldn’t believe we’d never found. We heard talk of an ‘Eagle’s Nest trail but didn’t have time to look for it. Something to look forward to for next time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Janis, finding the little glass float would be a nice ending to the story, but we were very happy with our take-a-way. On the drive home, Malcolm remarked that he hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long while. It is that kind of place.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Suzanne,
    When we visited Jekyll three years ago, I loved watching guests play some serious croquet on the lawn in front of the club. I hope we can return soon, and your pictures make me want to do it even more. Love the picture of you and Malcom in front of the driftwood at sunset. You both look very relaxed. Have a great week! Joe

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    • Joe, Malcolm and I sat in those white Adirondack chairs out in front of the hotel for nearly an hour one day, trying to learn the game. I remember playing as a kid, but those folks take it to another level. I found the club on-line and next time we are going to take our ‘whites’ and get a lesson from one of the members. That photo at Driftwood Beach was taken at sunrise with my iPhone on a tripod. Not the best quality, but it certainly captured our collective mood. It was 48 degrees that morning – heaven!

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  4. Suzanne, Such a beautiful place. Even the crocodile looks relaxed. I’d love to visit Jekyll island once travel restrictions are lifted. Your photos and the video clip of the gulls are lovely. Thank you for linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

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    • Hi Natalie, it is a peaceful island, with lots to offer nature lovers. There is always something new to discover. The gator sunning with the turtles was a big surprise. Glad I had my long lens that day.

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  5. A great opening Suzanne, about the two types of treasures. You had hinted about these floats in a previous post. I can see how this would be tons of fun….a big deal. The photos on the beach are spectacular. I especially love your sentence “it delights the senses and uplifts the soul.” I appreciate the video at the end and listening to the sounds. An interesting and beautiful post!.

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    • Erica, we had this trip planned for such a long time. It was supposed to happen the week of Feb. 14th in celebration of Valentine’s Day, but we postponed one week due to severe weather. We were so glad we did. Our week there was perfect in every way. After four years of joining the hunt with no success, our expectations of actually finding a globe are pretty low. Obviously, it isn’t about the trinket anyway. I hope the true treasures come across in our photos and smiles. Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fantastic place – and those buildings are absolutely gorgeous! I want a glass float/globe! I have several glass buoys in various sizes and colours that hang from the roof of our balcony – coloured glass makes me happy.

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    • Leanne, you would love these floats. I didn’t know the history behind them until we started joining the February hunt about four years ago. Now, I get it. I stopped by the Visitor’s Center just to see one up close. They are truly unique and one-of-a-kind. Maybe one day I’ll get lucky.

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    • Hi Donna, I will check it out. I love the idea of getting people out and about, discovering ‘true island treasures.’ I get so caught up in the beauty of the island that I often forget to look for the globes. No wonder I never find one!

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  7. This looks such a beautiful place, even without the lure of treasure! I love the driftwood and your photo of the alligator and turtles is great 🙂

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  8. What a wonderful place to escape to for a short trip away from home. Can’t wait to start traveling again.

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    • Karen, we felt pretty safe the entire time. The hotels and restaurants all require masks, and most have outside seating. Obviously, we spent most of our time outside, walking and riding our bikes. It was exactly what we needed right now. Can’t wait to get back out there!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. We love Jekyll Island, too. We enjoyed biking the trails and visiting the historic homes on the little red tram tour (it was entertaining and so informative!) and I would love to return. I had heard about the treasure hunt for the glass floats. So fun! Is the glass float in your photo one that you found on a previous visit?

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    • Hi Laurel, we stopped by the Visitor’s Center because I wanted to see one up close. I think I needed assurance that they really existed! There were about 16 of them still left to be claimed and all were beautiful. This one was my favorite. Apparently, finders have until the end of March to claim them, even though the hunt ended on Feb. 28th. They said that some are never claimed and are eventually sold.

      Jekyll is a unique place and I love that because it is a state park, the growth plan is controlled. Lately, they seem to have expanded on that. I hope it doesn’t go too far and ruin the island’s natural beauty. Some places simply need to be left alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I can understand why you love this island, it is beautiful. How exciting to go on a treasure hunt and sounds like although you did not find the treasure you have certainly got very fit doing so much cycling. Gorgeous photos.

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    • Hi Gilda, cycling on the island is always fun. Each time we discover a new trail or see something we hadn’t noticed before. After a while, we forget about the treasure hunt and just enjoy the view. Still, I’d be thrilled to find one.

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  11. Hi Jan, we felt pretty good about our stay on Jekyll. The hotel was less than 50% capacity and had lots of spaces which accommodated being separate from other visitors. We spent most of our time outside and when we had to enter a building, we (and everyone else) wore masks. It was surprisingly relaxing. Maybe we are getting used to the new normal. As more vaccines roll out, travel will be possible again. It’s just a matter of time.

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  12. Just beautiful Suzanne, and the treasure hunt sounds like so much fun. What a good idea someone had! There are so many places I want to visit in this world. I think Jekyll Island needs to be on the list.

    Like

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