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Great places to go: Cumberland Island

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Cumberland Island is a beautiful, secluded island located just off the coast of south Georgia. Rich in history and marvelous to explore, this place is definitely worth visiting. Guests on this 18 mile long island can enjoy hiking, swimming, watching the herds of wild horses, and walking the grounds of Cumberland's old southern homes.

Some of the ruins to explore on Cumberland Island
Some of the ruins to explore on Cumberland Islandflickr.com

The island is only accessible by water, through two different ferry services or by a personal boat. If you choose to take your own vessel, there are docks available at the Dungeness and Sea Camp areas of the island. There is a fee of $4.00 and no overnight docking is permitted. Visitors can also pull up on the island's sandy shores, most of which are unimpeded. The other method to reach the island is via one of two ferries. Most people take the National Park Service ferry, which leaves out of St. Mary's Georgia. It makes two round trips per day during the winter and recommendations are recommended. Visit http://www.nps.gov/cuis/reservations.htm to set up yours. The other ferry service is operated by the Greyfield Inn, a gorgeous little luxury hotel on the island. It leaves out of Fernandina Beach, Fl. If you are interested in an extended stay on the island, visit http://www.greyfieldinn.com for more details.

Once on Cumberland island, visitors have a wealth of activities to enjoy. The island has over 50 trails to hike along. These trails will offer guests fantastic opportunities for bird watching, combing the beach for shells and shark's teeth, and photography. Cumberland is home to herds of wild horses, alligators, deer, bobcats, and otters. The surrounding waters are teeming with sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees. Fishing is allowed as long as you have a Georgia fishing license. Swimming is allowed on all of the island's shores, but there are no lifeguards, so exercise caution. Biking is also permitted and an excellent way to see the whole island quickly, but the NPS ferry does will not transport them so you have to find another way to get a bike on the island. There are also several campgrounds available for those who want an extended stay.

The real joy of visiting Cumberland is in seeing all of the history. The ruins of the old Dungeness home are fun to walk around. Revolutionary war hero Nathaniel Greene bought this land, and his widow built the home. It was rebuilt in the 19th century only to be destroyed by fire in 1959. Plum Orchard mansion is a massive, traditional Georgia home built in 1898. The NPS offers tours of the mansion daily. Finally, take a walk through the old First African Baptist Church, originally built in the 1890's. John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette here in 1996.

Cumberland is a truly remarkable place. It is full of American history and the home of over 300 species of wildlife. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/cuis/index.htm and have a wonderful trip.

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