By Christine Van Dusen
Photography by Brian Austin Lee
If variety is what you long for, the island proves more than accommodating
Jekyll Island’s history as an exclusive, nearly inaccessible club for only the most well-heeled of American families is a fascinating footnote to what is now an inclusive and well-preserved resort for visitors of all walks of life. Though some of the mansion-sized “cottages” from that bygone era still stand, and first-class accommodations are still readily available, the island boasts numerous alternative places to kick back and relax while visiting. Family- and pet-friendly hotels, rentals of differing sizes and shapes, and a popular 18-acre campsite all can be found on this pristine, seven-mile-long, 5,700-acre barrier island.
Here’s just some of what these places have to offer to today’s traveler:
Beachfront hideaway: Beachview Club Hotel
For easy access to the beach and set at the north end of the island near Driftwood Beach, try the Beachview Club Hotel. Set among century-old live oaks, this 38-room boutique hotel overlooks a courtyard and heated pool and is adjacent to the Beach House restaurant.
721 N. Beachview Drive
Extended stay: Home2 Suites by Hilton, Jekyll Island
Home2 Suites by Hilton, Jekyll Island is the island’s newest hotel offering. This extendedstay hotel is located across the street from the new Corsair Beach Park and walking distance to Beach Village. The property features an outdoor saline swimming pool and a combination fitness/laundry facility where guests can wash Saturday’s workout clothes while working out on Sunday.
101 Ocean Way
Timeless elegance: Jekyll Island Club Resort
You don’t have to be a Rockefeller or a Pulitzer to visit the Jekyll Island Club Resort, but you may feel like a member of one of those high-falutin’ families when you check into this Victorian property with old-world charm (think croquet on the lawn) and modern conveniences (like a fitness center). Visitors describe the service as impeccable.
371 Riverview Drive
Back to nature: Jekyll Island Campground
If roughing it (in an easy kind of way) is more your thing, either in an RV or a tent, the Jekyll Island Campground, walking distance to Clam Creek and Driftwood Beach, is for you. There’s a store on site, a laundry, bathhouses, a pickleball court, and free wi-fi. (After all, roughing it goes only so far.) The campground books up months in advance, though, so it’s wise to plan early.
1197 Riverview Drive
Honeymooners welcome: Jekyll Ocean Club
The Jekyll Ocean Club has 40 suites that include living rooms and balconies, but visitors rave most about the adults-only rooftop terrace and open-air dining at Eighty Ocean Kitchen and Bar. It makes for a great romantic beach getaway.
80 Ocean Way
Kids’ pick: Days Inn & Suites
Budget-conscious travelers may want to consider the Days Inn & Suites which offers some of the island’s best deals on suites. The hotel—in the old days, this was where the Corsair Motel stood—is also a good bet for families, with two pools (one is for children, so you won’t get sideways glances from singles.)
60 S. Beachview Drive
Group getaway: Villas by the Sea Resort & Conference Center
Villas by the Sea Resort and Conference Center features a renovated, 9,000-square-foot event space. It’s the largest oceanside resort on the island, accommodations that feel like a cross between a hotel room and a condo. The popular Driftwood Bistro is located next to the check-in and 24-hour mini store.
1175 N. Beachview Drive
Eat, shop, relax: Westin Jekyll Island
The location of the Westin Jekyll Island right next to the Jekyll Island Convention Center and Beach Village shops and restaurants, makes this a popular choice for first-time visitors. In addition to three on-site restaurants, there’s an upper-deck lounge overlooking the beach, which is just steps away.
110 Ocean Way
The heart of Jekyll: Seafarer Inn & Suites
For families who want to stay together but not too together, Seafarer Inn & Suites has spacious two-bedroom suites with kitchenettes. The property—its name is a nod to the original Seafarer Inn that stood there decades ago—is also close to the island’s golf and tennis facilities.
700 N. Beachview Drive
Fur-baby friendly: Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island
Pet-lovers will appreciate the welcoming policy at the Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island. Close to Driftwood Beach, this hotel—long-time visitors may remember this place as the site of the former Wanderer Motel— boasts lovely views of the ocean, and dining at the Anchor or NorthShore. And to make things easy on you and your pet, many rooms on the ground floor have back doors that open directly to beach access.
701 N. Beachview Drive
Tranquil escape: Hampton Inn & Suites
If quiet is what you seek, consider the Hampton Inn & Suites. This hotel is located on the more tranquil, south side of the island. Follow the oak-lined boardwalk from the pool to the beach. In the evening, enjoy complimentary
cookies and time to kick back around the fire pit.
200 S. Beachview Drive
Stay like a local: Cottages & condos
Those who want to stick around a little longer than a week or so may want to look into a longer-term house, cottage, apartment, condo, or villa rental. Local realtors regularly list places for rent—most you can book online—and vendors like VRBO and Airbnb can help point you to ways that you can stay
like a local.