Rich with natural resources such as pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes, there are sea turtles, wild horses, and sand dunes. Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island, is 17.5 miles long and totals 36,415 acres, of which over 9,800 acres are Congressionally designated Wilderness.
Natives, missionaries, enslaved African Americans and wealthy industrialists all walked here. The written history of Cumberland Island begins with the early Spanish missions in the 16th century. In the 1730s, James Edward Oglethorpe laid out two forts, one on each end of the Island. In the 1750s, aspiring planters came to the Island. After the American Revolution, new families, such as that of Nathaniel Greene, arrived. The first mansion was built on the site we now know as Dungeness. In the early 1880s, Thomas Morrison Carnegie and his wife, Lucy Coleman Carnegie, came to the Island and established the family’s presence, which exists to the present day. In the 1960s the land began to leave the exclusive holdings of individual families, and the evolution of the National Seashore began.
Accessible only by boat, St Marys, GA is the gateway town to the island, located seven miles to the east. The National Park Service operates its ferry service from St. Mary’s, stopping at both the Dungeness dock and the Sea Camp Dock, and reservations are recommended. Cumberland can also be accessed through Fernandina Beach, FL, via a private vessel operated by The Greyfield Inn.
There are two ways to stay on the island: at Greyfield Inn or at one of the National Park Service campsites. Most visitors to Cumberland Island gain their access through the National Park Service,and many camp at one of the various sites around the island. An overnight stay at the Greyfield Inn however, is a very special way to stay on the Island. The Inn is a converted Carnegie mansion, still owned and managed by members of the Carnegie family. For more information, visit the Greyfield Inn website here.