Sapelo Island GA: A Private Island Escape Like No Other

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transparent shallow ocean that leads to a Sapelo Island, a natural private island

Have you ever dreamed of a private island vacation but thought it would be too expensive or complicated? Sapelo Island, Georgia just may be your ticket to the epic vacation you’ve been dreaming of. Not only is it an affordable vacation idea, but full of culture, history, and nature to help leave those worries behind for a while. The best part is that you won’t even need a passport. And if you aren’t too far from the south, this destination would be an amazing part of a Coastal Georgia road trip.


Spoiler Alert: you won’t find any high-rise condos or luxury resorts on this remote, primitive barrier island. Don’t worry, I have an idea for an opulent resort when you return to the mainland if you’re only exploring on a day trip.

Sapelo Island is a state-protected destination that it’s only accessible only by boat. It’s a private island so isolated that it’s void of city officials, grocery stores, or schools, and is illegal to visit without a permit or reservation.

All but three percent of Sapelo is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

  • Sapelo Island Visitor’s Center – mainland
  • Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve – western perimeter
  • University of Georgia Marine Institute – south end
  • 1800s-built Reynolds Mansion – south end
  • Georgia State Park – south end
  • Hog Hammock Gullah Geechee community (general store, library, two churches, rental cottages)
  • Sapelo Island Lighthouse
  • Undisturbed beaches, maritime forests, and saltwater marshes
  • Chocolate Plantation Ruins
Can’t view the video? Watch it HERE


To get to the Sapelo Island Visitor Center (where the ferry dock is located) from Darien, Georgia, travel north on Georgia State Route 99 for about eight miles. Along the eight miles, looks for signs for the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. Travel right on Landing Road in Meridian. Travel another half mile and you will find the destination.

There are two seafaring options for this remote island – a passenger ferry or prearranged boat ride with a resident. The primary ferry leaves from the Sapelo Island Visitors Center in McIntosh County, Georgia. JR Grovner is a Hog Hammock resident that offers boat rides as well.


A day trip is a half-day excursion, but for those who wish to stay overnight have the option of a campground, cottages, or Reynolds Mansion. The campground, (Cabretta), and the Reynolds Mansion are managed by Georgia DNR. Most of the cottages are owned by Hog Hammock residents and many can be found on VRBO and Airbnb.


If you gather no other advice from these helpful tips, heed this warning…

Sapelo Island is a unique destination worth the effort it takes to plan in advance. Ferry reservations are limited and can fill up. For peace of mind, call the Visitor Center ahead of time and ask about the ferry and tours hosted by them and the residents. The DNR staff are very accommodating with information about both options.

Choose from the tour options when booking with the visitor center or Sapelo resident.

Because this remote island is natural with limited amenities on the island, it’s very suggested to have a few things in place ahead of time like comfortable clothes and shoes, and optional hats and sunglasses. There isn’t a lot of walking on the tour but some places may be muddy.

You are welcome to bring your own snacks and bottled water, but all island tours will make a stop at the small convenience store in the Hog Hammock community. This old-fashioned general store will have snacks, drinks, bug spray (highly suggested in summer months), and a variety of other items you may want.

The ferry and tours will proceed, even in inclement weather. Both the ferry and tour bus are enclosed. The only reason for cancellation is in the rare case the ocean is too rough for travel.

The Official State Ferry

1766 Landing Rd. SE
Darien, Georgia 31305, USA


Cabretta campground

Gullah Geechee Tours by the residents

Forbidden Island … An Island Called Sapelo

A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia

Pride of Sapelo Island, Football Star, Allen Bailey

For more detailed info about Coastal Georgia vacations or day trips, check out this playlist.

woman walking on Sapelo Island  beach sand with white coverup blowing in breeze

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️


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