After five and one-half hours of highway driving on I95 north, we turn east, toward the coast. Within minutes the salt marshes begin to appear. I am sure it looks like a swamp to a lot of visitors, but it looks like a river of gold to me. I can’t quite explain the visceral feeling I have as we make our way over to Jekyll Island, but it is undeniable – every single time.
At just 5,500 acres and only ten miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, it is the most unique and diverse landscape I have ever visited and I can never get enough of its pristine beauty.
Jekyll Island is a state park, but it has a commercial side too. There are a few hotels and residences, but mostly the land is protected and development remains controlled. This is a place steeped in history, with stories to tell. From a slave settlement to Millionaire’s row, it is all here waiting to be discovered.
With over twenty-five miles of bike paths, some paved, and others not, we criss-cross the island day after day discovering beautiful treasures. Just when we think we have ridden all the trails, we stumble upon another one. From sunrise at Driftwood to sunset at Andrew’s, the beaches are stunning.
Spanish moss sways like fine silk in centuries-old oaks throughout the historic district. The Jekyll Island Club (now a hotel) stands as a monument to the island’s glory days. The grand hotel and several restored ‘cottages’ are available for lodging and it is not unusual to witness a wedding or photoshoot happening near one of these historic venues nearly every weekend.
Beach sand rides are a must and happen to be one of my favorite island rides, but timing is everything! High tide can be pretty dramatic here and you’ll need to know where the exits are if you plan to cut it close.
You never know exactly what you might stumble upon during a bike ride on Jekyll. But, it always delights. These two have all the attributes of an Instagram sensation, don’t you think?
In addition to its natural treasures, each year Jekyll plays host to a treasure hunt of a different kind. I wrote about it in this post. During the months of January and February, about 250 glass-blown orbs are hidden all over the island. The original idea was developed as a marketing plan to increase tourism to the island in the down season. After twenty years, it has developed somewhat of a cult following that we have become a part of.
Malcolm and I plan our visit to the island in February each year to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but, after the first visit, our ulterior motive has been to find a globe. We have always come up empty-handed, but we leave the island contented, knowing that the true treasures are found in the land and its history.
Until This Happened
We arrived on Jekyll Island the day before Valentine’s Day, settled into our hotel, and headed out to dinner. Sometime during dessert, Malcolm asked me what our strategy would be to find a globe this year and I replied, ‘we don’t need one, it’s just going to happen.’ Truthfully, I just wanted to relax and forget about island treasures of the man-made kind.
The next day we got out around 10:00 and headed south on the bike path. When we got to the Village, I said, ‘left or right?’ Left would take us to a beach ramp where it would be easy to walk the bikes over the dune to the beach and right would take us to the historic district bike trail. Malcolm replied, ‘right,’ so we set off to explore the Historic District. There are some amazing oak trees there and we like to get our annual commemorative ‘cell-phone tripod’ selfie in celebration of Valentine’s Day in a particular spot.
The wind kept blowing the tripod over, smacking my phone on the ground, and I looked haggard in every photo because 10 seconds just isn’t enough to rearrange oneself for a romantic photo, so I said, ‘chuck it,’ and started packing up to move on. Wait, what’s that?
You guessed it. That little clear ball in my hand contained the golden ticket! Actually, it was a notice to redeem it for treasure #467. And, oh, what a treasure it is. My globe, with the colors of sea glass, was blown by Mark A. Ellinger, a glass artist from Prudgett Sound, Washington. It is one of a kind and I will ‘treasure’ it forever. So much better than a commemorative photo for Valentine’s Day!
We returned to the scene of the find the next day, with the real globe, and put it back in its hiding place for a quick photo opp.
And there you have it. A beautiful week in a beautiful place with my best buddy. We hope you did something fun this past week to celebrate the special Valentine in your life.