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What is Jekyll Island?

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is a barrier island on the southeast coast of Georgia, USA. It is the southernmost of the Golden Isles, a collection of islands near Brunswick. The state of Georgia took ownership of Jekyll in 1947, and it created the Jekyll Island-State Park Authority (JIA) to run the island in 1950. Jekyll measures 7 1/2 miles by 3 miles in length. The island has 10 miles of beach and 20 miles of bike paths. The JIA maintains many pavilions and picnic sites for public use, as well as public fishing piers and a public boat launch. Jekyll is 5700 acres in size, and by law the state will allow development of no more than 35% of Jekyll’s land.

Jekyll History

Visitors to the island will find a family-friendly location, with restaurants, shops and many opportunities to interact with nature. The name Jekyll dates back to the British establishment of the island in 1736 by James Ogelthorpe. He named the island in honor of his friend, Sir Joseph Jekyll. Ogelthorpe sent William Horton and 30 men from Savannah to establish and run Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, the Golden Isle just north of Jekyll. Horton established a plantation on Jekyll to produce crops for Fort Frederica, including hops and barley that he used to brew ale.

Jekyll Island Club

You can see the shell of Horton’s second house as you tour the island. Horton House, the oldest structure in Georgia, is made of tabby. Jekyll’s ownership passed through a series of owners, ending with the DuBignon family. In the 1880’s, John DuBignon sold the island to the Jekyll Island Club, a group of millionaires from the Northeast. They built a hunting club and playground for the country’s rich and famous on the island. We call this area of the island “The Historic District.” The hunting lodge is now the Jekyll Club Hotel. You can see other preserved mansions or “cottages” of this era. If you’d like to see inside a few of them, you can take a tour!

Come to Jekyll

A causeway just south of Brunswick provides access to Jekyll Island, leading to a bridge that crosses the Intercoastal Waterway. The richest people in the land came here to isolate themselves from everyday life. Now you, too, can visit Jekyll and leave the cares of work and school behind.

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