Though winter is spreading across the country, Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia, sounds like it could be a great place to visit in winter.
For starters, through the year-end holidays and into next year the Seashore has some special events and tours at Plum Orchard, in downtown St. Marys, and elsewhere to offer a little something for everyone.
Now through February the ferry to Cumberland Island will run five days a week, Thursday through Monday. The Seashore, including facilities located in downtown St. Marys, is still open to private boaters, kayakers and campers seven days a week.
However, the Sea Camp Ranger Station on Cumberland Island will not be staffed on a regular basis Tuesdays and Wednesdays from December through February.
The popular Lands and Legacies tours will also not run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during this time.
The national seashore's museum will be open this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as a part of the St. Marys Tour Our Town open house. Access to the museum is free.
The Plum Orchard Christmas House Tour will occur on Sunday. For the tour, staff and volunteers will be dressed in period Edwardian costume as they lead you through Plum Orchard sharing the tales of Plum Orchard, Cumberland Island, and Christmas past.
Reservations are limited for the afternoon ferry excursion to Plum Orchard. Plum Orchard Christmas ferry tickets are an additional $6 for the round-trip. Visitors should make reservations by calling the ferry office at 912-882-4335 and asking for the for the 11:45 a.m. ferry; this trip will take all afternoon.
Beyond the special events, visiting Cumberland Island during the winter months could really provide you with some solitude and a good sense of maritime wilderness. Cumberland Island is the largest barrier island off the coast of Georgia, encompassing more than 36,000 acres of maritime forests, salt marsh and beaches. The island is also home to over 9,800 acres of congressionally designated wilderness.
On the island you'll find 50 miles of hiking trails that meander through maritime forests, interior wetlands, historic districts, marsh ecosystems, and along the beaches. Trails are accessible only by foot. The roadways allow vehicle and bicycle use.
Both developed and wilderness camping is available. Reservations are encouraged and may be made up to six months in advance. Permits are required and are picked up at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. All camping is limited to seven days. Spring and late fall are peak seasons.
Wildlife on the island ranges from threatened and endangered manatees and sea turtles to more than 300 species of birds. Visitors might see wild turkeys, armadillos, feral horses, vultures, dolphins, and lizards.
The island’s natural and cultural resources provide a rich and diverse habitat for wildlife and offer a glimpse into the long history of coastal Georgia. The Seashore is accessible by foot-only, passenger ferry from the historic community of St. Marys, Georgia and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.