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.
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.
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.