Jekyll Island camping trip with my dogs in December


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I took a December Jekyll Island camping trip with my dogs. Here’s where I stayed and what I enjoyed the most on my 3 day/2 night trip, including travel tips!

Trip Overview

We made the six-hour drive on a Monday in December and pitched camp. We walked through the salt marshes and played on the beaches on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, we broke camp and enjoyed more strolls on the beach before driving home. Temperatures ranged from the upper 30s to low 50s during our stay.

Jekyll Island camping options

There are many options near Jekyll Island when it comes to camping. However, if you want to camp on the island itself, you’ll need to book at the Jekyll Island Campground. My experience there was wonderful. The hosts and other employees were friendly and helpful. There’s a campground store and a community room with laundry facilities on site. The bathrooms are a short walk from the campsites and they are very clean and tidy.

Only Section J at the campground is for tent camping. I was worried it would be noisy and crowded because it’s mainly an RV campground. However, the tent camping sites are in the very back, away from all the hustle and bustle. My site was even across from a cute bird sanctuary – a little fenced area full of bird feeders. I loved it because I listened to the birds while I cooked. There are even swinging benches near the bird feeders, so you can drink your coffee and wake up with the birds, too.

Know before you go

  • You can drive onto the island. There’s no need to worry about catching a ferry or hiring a charter! Super easy.
  • There’s a $10 parking fee for all vehicles entering Jekyll Island. The island is technically managed as a state park and the fee goes to maintenance and conservation. You can purchase a day pass at the entrance gates, or purchase online here.
  • There are several dog-friendly restaurants with patios. Perfect if you’d rather grab a bite to eat in town instead of cooking at camp! You can find more info on dog-friendly things to do on the Golden Isles website.

Reasons why a December Jekyll Island camping trip is awesome

Why December? I love the Golden Isles in winter. It can be chilly, but it’s still fun and there are several good reasons to go in the winter months.

  • Skip the bugs! Cooler weather in December helps eliminate most of the bugs you’ll encounter in the summer. We still needed bug spray, but only saw a couple of ticks.
  • Enjoy quiet mornings on the beaches. If you don’t mind bundling into a warm coat, you’ll often share the beaches with only a few other people in the mornings.
  • Watch the stars. Winter night skies are beautiful. We could see some stars from our campsite. Clam Creek Picnic Area is across from the campground and is open 24 hours a day, so you can also watch stars from the beach or the pier if you have a friend with you.
  • See the lights. If you enjoy Christmas lights, you’ll love the self-guided drive of Christmas lights. The island really puts on a show! I loved seeing the oak trees dripping with fairy lights.

Our favorite beaches

There are eight different beaches, so which ones should you visit on a short trip with your dog? Not all beaches on Jekyll are pet-friendly, but these are!

  • Driftwood Beach is a fun spot to look for shells early in the morning. It was once a maritime forest, and the old fallen trees have become beautiful driftwood sculptures. There is a bike path through the salt marsh behind Driftwood Beach. This beach has limited parking along the road and no restrooms, but it’s only a fifteen-minute walk from the campground.
  • Want to catch a sunset? St. Andrews Beach is the place to be. Like Driftwood Beach, there are a few driftwood trees along part of the beach. It faces west, making it a gorgeous place to enjoy the evening. There is a wheelchair-accessible ramp to the open part of the beach (Jekyll Island even has sand-accessible wheelchairs to borrow!). An interpretive trail tells the history of the Wanderer slave ship, there’s a wildlife viewing platform, plenty of picnic tables, and restrooms are available. This beach is a 15-minute drive from the Campground.
  • Great Dunes Beach Park is also pet-friendly. Like St. Andrews, there are restrooms and the beach is accessible for wheelchairs. This beach has more of a resort feel, with plenty of parking, large picnic pavilions, outdoor showers, and even bocce/volleyball courts.

Some beaches in the Golden Isles only permit dogs during certain times of the year or hours of the day. Jekyll Island allows dogs on the beaches year-round, making it a perfect choice for dog-friendly travel. Also, dogs on Jekyll are allowed to enjoy a 16′ leash as long as they are under your immediate control. Trust me, they will be happy to have the long leash to romp and explore all the exciting smells!

December Jekyll Island camping tips (especially with dogs)

  • Plan to leave early if you are driving from Atlanta in December. I can pitch camp in the dark, but that may not be your cup of tea. If you’d prefer to arrive in daylight, pack the car the night before and leave early in the morning. This also gives you more time to explore!
  • Bring coats for the dogs, too. My short-haired Catahoula boys were not happy about the chilly mornings. They enjoyed snuggling at night but would have preferred coats when we were lounging around camp.
  • Pack lots of clean-up bags. There are pet stations at the campground and at some of the beaches, but it helps to have a roll of bags in your pocket, just in case.
  • Bring the long leash, but don’t tie out. You can let your dogs have a 16′ lead on the beach, but we just used our multi-clip leashes the whole time. If you are solo tent camping and don’t have a friend to babysit your dogs, you’ll need to have them wait in your tent or in your car while you use the restroom. (Only service dogs are allowed in restrooms). The campground doesn’t allow dogs to be left tied out while unattended.

Enjoy your trip!

I think you and your dog will find as much to love about Jekyll Island as we did. Whether it’s walking through the salt marshes, exploring the beach, or even just a lazy day in camp, you’ll have plenty of options to keep everyone happy.