Cumberland Island National Seashore can only be accessed by boat. Either your own boat or the NPS Ferry. Reservations are recommended for the ferry.
I have been trying to go to Cumberland Island for some time. There is an anchorage off the Sea Camp Dock and you can dingy ashore. But we've never had enough time to do that. And the last time we came up the ICW, we stopped at St. Mary's and I wanted to get the ferry over, but they were full. So this time I made the reservation both for the 11:30 ferry and for a beach wheelchair.
We went over to the National Park office and signed in for the ferry. Then we went downstairs to wait for the ranger to give us instructions. There is no place to buy any food when you get over there, so you have to bring your lunch with you. We ate on the boat on the way over.
I got the beach wheelchair which looked like a regular wheelchair but with tires like those monster trucks. It was hard to get into as it was tall and tippy. I think they had the tires reversed. Go to Cumberland Island for additional photos and information
Ranger-guided “Footsteps” Tour of the Dungeness Historic District are conducted daily and begins at Dungeness Dock at approximately 10:00am and 12:45pm. Each tour lasts about an hour. We followed the ranger on her 1:00 tour which is worthwhile as she told us the history and the ecology of the island. We saw some of the wild horses, and also an armadillo. After we got back to the dock area, Bob turned in the wheelchair (which was QUITE hard to push) and we looked in the ice house museum
The visitor center is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Sunday. Park facilities are closed on December 25.
The ferry boat schedule is as follows:
Spring/Summer/Fall (March 1st to November 30th)
The ferry departs St. Marys at 9:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., and departs from Cumberland Island at 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.
March 1 to September 30 - Wednesday through Saturday there is also a 2:45 p.m. departure from the island.
Winter (December 1st to February 28th)
The ferry does not operate on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and there is no 2:45 p.m. departure from the island. However, the two departure times from St. Marys and Cumberland Island remain the same.
This is a part of the related submarine base just 5 miles to the north of town, called Kings BAy. It is the nuclear submarine base of the Navy. If you are military retired, or active, you can get on base. Others are not allowed. The museum was an extension of artifacts and momentos of sub days, and the museum is packed with tid bits of information and displays of sub life.
The museum is 5,000SF, and open Mon-Sat 10-5, and Sun 1-5. Admission is $5.
It is only accessible by boat from St. Mary's town. It is an island 16 miles long saved for nature and horses to roam.
Cumberland Island is a preserved nature island that does not allow any vehicle traffic. The NPS ferries you over there by boat. The trip cost $20, and $18 for seniors,a nd only runs to the island twice daily, and back On the island you can trek at your own pace, and enjoy camping, hiking, biking, and see nature and animals. There is one mansion called Dungeness, but it was destroyed by fire. There is a $6 charge to sail over to Plum Orchard mansion two times a month,but that place is under restoration on the interior for a long time.
This is s tour of about 1/2 hour, and donation is $3. There is not a lot of furniture inside, but the docent description is nice to know of the history. The name comes from the orange trees that used to surround the home. It was built in 1838, and is 9,500 SF in Greek Revival style. Rev Horace Southworth Pratt built the home in memory of his deceased bride. Pratt moved out of the area shortly after it was completed, but unfortunately he died in 1840. It sold at auction in 1846. It passed through numerous ownerships in its time, and even was an apartment house, and house for mill workers. It was purchased in 1965 by the town, and after $6.2 million renovation , opened for tours.
It is open Monday-Saturday 10-4, and Sunday 1-4
This is another place that I intended to visit on Saturday. Bob was in the U.S. Navy submariner reserve in high school and the following year before he went to the U.S. Naval Academy. I put it off partly because I was too tired to do it Friday, but also because I was saving the tourist stuff for the following day.
So on our re-visit, the first thing we visited was this museum. Bob thought it could use a serious reorganization because he said it was a 'collection of colletions'
St. Marys Submarine Museum is in a converted historic movie theater (built in 1911) on the St. Marys waterfront. They have a working periscope, models of torpedoes, many displays made from actual submarines, a deep-sea diving suit and submarine uniforms, command plaques, photographs and models of submarines, an area for watching movies on submarines, working sonar panels, a history of submarines, a reading area, a reference area, gift shop and a display dedicated to the eight submariners who received the Medals of Honor.
$3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children.
* Closed Mondays *
Tuesday - Saturday: 1000 til 1600
Sundays: 1300 til 1700
the first presbyterian church was built in 1808. the foundation of the church is made from tabby, a south georgia local building material. this historic church is one of a number of historic building and homes in downtown saint marys.
the bacon-burns home is an excellent example of a southern georgia cottage. the bacon-burns home was built in 1830. this one of several architectually significant homes and buildings in downtown saint marys.
orange hall is a beautiful antebellum greek rivival home located on osborne street in downtown saint marys. the original home was built in 1829. the building you see today was expanded in 1856 by john smith. orange hall is listed on the national register of historic places.
located near saint marys is the kings bay submarine base. this submarine base has been important to the economy of the kingsland-saint marys area. in downtown saint marys is the submarie museum. this small museum has on display relics, photographs, and submarine memorabilia. for those interested in the history of the submarine in america this is an interesting place to visit. closed mondays.
most visitors come to saint marys to visit the cumberland island national seashore. cumberland island is the largest barrer island in georgia and has 17 miles of unspoiled atlantic beach. to get to cumberland island you must take a ferry from downtown saint marys. along with the beach there are a number of historic buildings, the mansion "dungeness" ruins and cumberland island's wild horses. the nationaL seashore offers swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting by permit. the park service only allows 300 people a day to visit the island so ferry reservations are required. call 912-882-4335 for reservations. also visit the attached website for ferry information.
Ok, so the only thing Saint Marys can really say attracts a large crowd is Wal Mart; however, I tend to enjoy going downtown for some free and quiet time at the park. There's a lovely fountain and water to look at. The trees are nice. The homes, while few, are historic and quite lovely. The City of Saint Marys also hosts several seasonal fairs, such as Mardi Gras and Fourth of July. The only bad thing about the outdoor gatherings is the biting gnats. Bring the bug spray and you should be fine. This is a very small town so there's not a whole lot of crime at these events, if at all.
This is the main reason for most to come to St Marys, to take the passenger ferry over to Cumberland Island. Best to get reservation beforehand as the boat is filled. The boat ride over is a very fascinating jounrey past salt marshes and wildlife. Keep an eye out for dolphins in the Cumberland Sound. Don't miss the last ferry back from the island though!!
For rates and schedules to Cumberland Island: Monday-Friday 10 am - 4 pm 912-882-4335 From October - February, there are no trips on Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest of the year, daily trips go out and are rarely cancelled, even if the weather is bit bold - read: wet, which it can be. For Cumberland Island take sun protection, bugspray, and any water and food you will need for the day (or more if you're camping out)
This is the US main base for nuclear submarines. It is secured and secretive, and only current active military, or retired military can enter the base. The sub in the front is a typical old style sub
They have a detailed brochure that shows where the sites of things to see & do are located. This is for the midtown area and the larger region.
There are about dozen identified homes to drive by and see the style form early 1900's. Some old churches are also on the trek