Located on Georgia's largest barrier island and featuring incredible maritime forests, secluded beaches and wide marshes, Cumberland Island National Seashore is a must-see destination for RV lovers. Cumberland Island National Seashore covers most of the southern-most barrier island in Georgia (which is around 36,415 acres) and features at least 23 distinct ecological communities. The area is a hub for flora and fauna and because of this it was authorized by Congress in 1972 as a National Seashore.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is a very heavily protected area and has some strict restrictions in order to protect the stunning environment. Only 300 people are allowed on the island at a time and it is only accessible by boat. There is a ferry that runs at different frequencies throughout the year, but no vehicles are allowed on the island. This means that you will need to leave your RV on the mainland during your visit.
Once you arrive at Cumberland Island National Seashore, there is plenty of different activities and experiences for you to enjoy. The island has two museums and two historical districts that feature ruins of the Carnegie Dungeness mansion, the intact Plum Orchard mansion dating back to the 1890s and a shell midden dating back over 4,000 years. There are also plenty of recreation to enjoy, including swimming, kayaking, hiking, fishing, stargazing and biking.
The island does have some camping facilities but there is no RV camping allowed. Despite this you do have some options that are located near the island. Crooked River State Park and Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA both are around 25 miles from the island and feature many RV-friendly sites that you can call home. Peak season at Cumberland Island National Seashore is from March until the end of September.
Driving to Cumberland Island National Seashore is a little different than most parks since there is no vehicle access allowed at all. The most common way to reach Cumberland Island National Seashore is to drive to the town of St Marys (around 17 miles from the island) and catch the private ferry that leaves from the wharf at various frequencies throughout the year. During the peak season the ferry runs three times a day then from October to the end of November it runs twice a day. From the start of December to the end of February access to the park is twice a day on Monday through to Thursday.
Before you jump on the ferry and head over to the island we recommend that you stock up on all supplies that you will need for your day-trip as there are no stores available once you are there. You can find stores in St Marys so you can stock up right before you get the ferry over. The closest city to Cumberland Island National Seashore is Jacksonville, which is located around 60 miles to the south.
There will be plenty of parking available near the ferry wharf for you to leave your RV at before you begin your journey to the park.
There is no public transport available that will take you to the island.
Another option that you have is to go and stay just one mile south of the Florida Border at Jacksonville North/St. Marys KOA. This campground is very well maintained and is suitable for rigs up to 90 feet in length. If you want to hook up to electricity you can also do so here as there are 50 amp services available.
Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA also has some more luxurious amenities on offer than what are usually found at campgrounds. You have the option to connect to cable and WiFi, cool off during the heat at the pool or get some exercise and sweat it up at the fitness center and sauna. For kid friendly activities you also have a wide range in choice that includes a putt putt course, jump pad and playground. The fur babies are also welcome here as there is a pet park available to enjoy.
During your stay at Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA you should be able to pick up cell phone service on all of the major networks. We recommend that you book a reservation ahead of your stay in order to guarantee a site for your arrival. Camping at Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA is available all year round.
If you are looking for a state park campground to stay in that is close to Cumberland Island National Seashore we recommend Crooked River State Park. Here you will find 63 spacious RV sites that are located in a lovely forested setting. You have the choice between full-hookup sites, sites with water or sites with electricity.
The campground is built for a diverse range of vehicles and features both back-in and pull-through sites that can fit rigs up to 130 feet in length. Other amenities in the campground include restrooms, a playground, easy access to the Nature Center Trail and the wildlife blind. You should also be able to get cell phone reception on any major network and the park is pet friendly.
If you plan to stay at Crooked River State Park we recommend that you reserve a site before you arrive in order to guarantee that you will have a site. Camping at Crooked River State Park Campground is available all year round.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is an excellent biking destination thanks to the miles and miles of unpaved trails that weave through the island. There are many different trails that you can explore on your bike, including to Plum Orchard which is a 14 mile round trip. Bikes are available to rent on the island and you also have the option of bringing your own over on the ferry. If you do so make sure that you reserve a bike space on the ferry as only 10 are allowed over on each trip.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is a dream for anglers due to the numerous fishing opportunities that are on offer. You have the option to go stream fishing for trout, explore the freshwater lakes for Blue Gill and Bass or go shore and deep sea fishing. Visitors to the island can also try their luck at gathering shrimp and crabs from the marshes if they are game. Once you have secured your catch you can clean your fish at the North end of Sea Camp Dock. If you do want to go fishing please bring your own gear as none is available for rent.
Hunting is a popular activity at Cumberland Island National Seashore and it is allowed during specific seasons. The animals available to be hunted are hog and deer and can be done through archery, primitive weapons and modern weapons. To do any hunting on the island you must have a relevant license and apply for hunting registration in the months leading up to the hunting seasons. For more information on hunting at Cumberland Island National Seashore we recommend calling the park office or checking out their website.
Due to the proximity of Cumberland Island from the mainland, many visitors choose to explore in and around the island via sea kayaking. It is possible to paddle over to the island instead of taking the ferry and most kayakers will depart from either Crooked River State Park to avoid the tide or from St. Marys or Amelia Island. If you do decide to kayak the waters around the island please be aware that the tides rise and fall between six to nine feet twice a day.
During the peak season at Cumberland Island National Seashore, there are three different ranger-led activities that you are welcome to participate in during your visit. There are two walking tours (knowns as The Footsteps and Plum Orchard tours) that give you the chance to explore some of the historical areas on Cumberland Island. The Dockside Program is offered before the last ferry of the day and it highlights a variety of cultural and natural history topics related to the island. For more information on the programs contact the park office.
If you love to swim you will be very happy with your choice to visit Cumberland Island. Here you will find 17 miles of undeveloped beach that is available for you to enjoy. The waters are known for being very blue and are excellent for swimming. All of the beaches on the island feature open ocean but there are no lifeguards on duty at any of the beaches. Because of this we recommend that you take extra precautions when swimming as there could be rips if you venture out of your depth.