Cumberland Island

Happy December and belated Happy Thanksgiving!  We’ll kick off the month with some pictures from one of our favorite cruising destinations, especially along the ICW.

Cumberland Island is the southernmost barrier island along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, and it is a national park. It was given over to the Department of the Interior in the 1970s to keep it in a pristine natural state, without the effects of development that have turned some of it’s northern cousins into tourist meccas. People had lived on Cumberland Island for thousands of years: first Native American tribes, then Revolutionary War heroes, freed slaves, and most notably members of the Carnagie family who left behind one intact (Plum Orchard) and one ruined mansion (Dungeness). Now the only inhabitants are the wild horses (147 at the last census), deer, turkeys, and, strangely enough, armadillos.

We’ve visited the park twice now: On our way up the ICW in early September and then on a blustery day in late October. It’s proximity to the easy St Mary’s inlet (well marked and kept dredged due to the nearby submarine base) makes it a great refuge if you are out in the ocean and the conditions deteriorate.

The island is bordered on the East by the Atlantic Ocean the ICW to the West with inlets North and South. The interior is predominated by a maritime forest of massive live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss which give way to broad meadows that often have horses grazing. All along the pathways that crisscross the island you find picnic tables in the shade; a great place to take refuge and have a snack.

The Atlantic coast offers miles of beach that is often deserted due to the few visitors brought over by the daily ferries from St. Mary’s, GA. The west coast has several anchoring options including the Sea Camp dock which is the most popular due to its proximity to ruins, forest, and has a quick path across to the beach. Our favorite was up the Brickhill River that gave access to Plum Orchard, the wholly intact Carnegie mansion. The mansion does have tours on certain days, maybe you can get lucky and be there on a day it is open, but just walking the grounds is enough to make you feel like a cast member on ‘Downton Abbey’.

The last night of our first visit we unexpectedly anchored near the northwestern tip of the island to avoid a storm. Taking Riley ashore we found hoof prints in the sand and then a few more horses grazing in the marsh. The next morning as we slowly motored away after a peaceful night at anchor we were treated to seeing the wild horses come down to the beach as if bidding us farewell.

Unfortunately, many of the pictures we took around the island, especially on our second visit, were taken on the iPhone that is now at the bottom of Biscayne Bay.

Have you ever been to Cumberland Island?  What did you enjoy the most?  Thanks for reading and commenting!  And remember to check us out on Facebook too.  Lots of pictures and quick updates get posted over there that don’t make it to the blog.


The road to Dungeness


Some of the 147 wild horses


Dungeness ruins


Dungeness ruins


Pathway on Cumberland Island


Armadillo! Basically an armoured rabbit.


The maritime forest


Miles of beautiful beach and dunes on the Atlantic coast

Plum Orchard Mansion

Picture of Plum Orchard courtesy of



The horses are used to people, but don’t get too close



Horses on the beach our last morning




3 responses to “Cumberland Island

  1. Nice photos and cool to read a bit about the island! Once met a person who had lived there and it definitely sparked my interest—will get there one of these days 🙂

  2. you are having a beautifull cruise down the icw. my wife an i would like to take the tri down the icw on our 26 ft saiboat the wind rider. would be our first time.will keep reading you post God bless an fair winds.

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