Jekyll Island is one of the country’s best-kept secrets, especially during Turtle Crawl weekend.
Off the Southern coast of Georgia you’ll find a destination that seemingly has it all, evoking a sense of wellbeing and restoration. Jekyll Island is a family-friendly vacation spot where you can reconnect with each other, yourself, and nature. Though this makes a fantastic destination throughout the year, one of the best times to visit is during the annual Turtle Crawl weekend in May.
Two-thirds of Jekyll Island is protected from development as part of the Jekyll Island Authority Conservation Program. This has created several miles of undisturbed maritime forests, marshes, and beaches. The Westin Jekyll Island
is located beach front within Jekyll Island State Park and in close proximity to the amazing Georgia Sea Turtle Center
This center is wholly committed to protecting sea turtles, an endangered species that has been on earth for 110 million years. For perspective, they’ve outlasted the dinosaurs. The GSTC works year-round to increase awareness through rehabilitation, conservation, research, and education. They’re located within a mile of The Westin, and guests there enjoy educational turtle walks on the beach that depart directly from the hotel.
The center is a true asset to the island that locals and guests alike strive to protect. That’s why the annual Turtle Crawl festival -- benefitting the GSTC -- is such a feature event. Not only do the weekend’s festivities raise funds and awareness for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, it’s also the island’s way of celebrating the start of nesting season.
The Turtle Crawl festival includes a 5K, 10K, and triathlon, making this a can’t-miss event for active travelers.
Field-day style games, music and dancing, and local food trucks are just a few more ways to join in the frivolity. Guests can also join GSTC staff on the beach for the release of rehabilitated sea turtles. And of course, the GSTC opens its interactive exhibit gallery and rehabilitation pavilion where guests can observe and learn about these amazing creatures. While there’s really never a bad time to visit Jekyll Island, this is one of the best excuses to book a trip.
Of course, a weekend of island life can be filled with so much more all year round. There are 22 miles of bike paths that lead you through lush maritime forests and undisturbed coastline that grants access to the otherwise unreachable saltwater marshes. Stay on the lookout for wildlife ranging from sea turtles and alligators to deer and several bird species. Kayaking, paddleboarding, and other aquatic sports are local favorites, as is just soaking up the sun on the beach. And you can hop aboard a shrimp boat for a unique experience to see bottle-nosed dolphins, sharks, puffer fish, and rays.
There’s nothing quite like Jekyll Island that truly allows you to escape.