On Jekyll Island, waves lick the 10 miles of beaches as kayaks cut through the salty water, cyclists roll over 20 miles of paved trails, and riders on horseback clop through hushed maritime forests. All visitors to the barrier island can partake in myriad active, relaxing, or educational activities while immersed in its lush natural landscapes, where dunes give way to beaches filled with hermit crabs and shell collecting and where birders clutch binoculars to examine avian habitats and decode gulls' sign language. The island's public golf club, open since 1898, hosts two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course on manicured greens and rolling terrain. In the summer, the Summer Waves Water Park provides a cool escape from the heat with six slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. For indoor adventurers, exhibits at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center illuminate the lives of the shelled reptiles, and a museum preserves relics of the wealthy families who used the island as their gilded getaway and a place to bury their expired money. The Jekyll Island Authority oversees all conservation and development on the idyllic island, existing to continually improve the park and its amenities.
The seasoned aqua men who own St. Mary's haven for Scuba aficionados also own the 6,000-square-foot building that houses the business. The diving specialists oversaw the construction of what would become their own self-contained underwater-experience facility. Adding to varied careers that encompassed naval service and cave diving, Bruce MacDougall and Chris Whitlock opened Diver’s Den in 2000, scheduling charters for open-water dives or practice dives in the company's heated, indoor pool. Over the last decade, Diver's Den has become a well-regarded source for both recreational diving instruction and professional training of rescue personnel.
The team of PADI-certified diving teachers at Diver’s Den regularly explores the region's offshore diving sites aboard its 36-foot Gulfstream boat, the Georgia Wreckreation. The team members once memorably aided the underwater investigations of famed wreck historian Richie Kohler (whose conquests have included the Titanic) as he dove off the Georgia coast to visit mysterious sunken wrecks and his snooty in-laws who live in Atlantis' biggest mermansion.
Spanning four days, Amelia Island Film Festival encompasses more than 50 screenings from international independent filmmakers. Passes earn participants access to various historic Amelia Island venues, beginning with a prefestival red-carpet rollout at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. Over the following three days, eyes screen films by independent artists and codependent artists hailing from countries such as Spain, Russia, Brazil, and the U.S. at multiple festival locations. Visitors can also view screenings of PBS’s Real Food Real Kitchens, a documentary series about family recipes. Starting at noon each day, participants can slake thirst at the Stella Artois Beer Garden and attend special seminars and events, such as the VIP/Actor/Director Tour and the Norman Studios silent-film seminar. The weekend concludes with an Oscar party at 7 p.m. on Sunday, where guests can carve cheese cubes into their own award statuettes.
From their dock on Amelia Island, Windward Sailing's US Coast Guard captains float out into the Cumberland Sound, where dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles swim alongside the boat's speeding hull. As these tours progress, the captain turns passengers' attention to the wild horses that gallop across the banks of Cumberland Island.
Though these tours introduce customers to the thrill of sailing, it's Windward Sailing's school that transforms the sport into a lifelong passion. In classrooms and on boats, instructors teach students to cruise local waters and prepare them for American Sailing Association exams. Depending on the course, instructors might teach fledgling captains to sail in light to moderate winds or navigate using nothing but constellations and the giant map NASA inscribed on the moon.
Equipped with a seasoned staff of sprinters, Current Running motivates movers and outfits joggers with a large spread of shorts, shoes, accessories, and more. Bury foot forks in a bevy of toe treats, including shoes from top brands such as Asics, Mizuno, Saucony, New Balance, Adidas, and Puma. Experts eye arches as customers try out the in-store treadmill with a number of different kicks, making suggestions to help match runners with the perfect combination of support and style. Race socks ($55) and recovery socks ($49) lay proper foundations for new shoes and provide a secret place for health enthusiasts to store spinach. To look slick and serious above the ankle on race day, also peruse Current's selection of ambling attire, including men and women's short tights ($80), long tights ($100), and compression leggings ($70).
Culling from a lengthy list of quality vendors, Absolute Fabrics and Home dolls up area domiciles with furniture, accents, and home décor. Tables can guard their precious finishes by strewing a set of six recycled coasters ($22) that pave a path around the shapely Juliska pewter-finish bowl ($38). Surround memories in artful design with picture frames adorned with turquoise flowers ($24), ringed with stripes ($22.50), or hewn from silver and bone ($48). Potted silk hydrangeas ($38) proffer perennial interior foliage, and an elegant Kim Seybert coral votive holder ($48), crafted out of gilded beads, cradles delicate flames in oceanic arms that evoke peaceful tide pools and clown-fish hotels.