Sapelo Island Nat’l Estuarine Research Reserve

Sapelo IslandSapelo Island isn’t exactly a state park, but some of its facilities (mainland visitor center, primitive group campground, and the Reynolds Mansion) are run by the GA Dept. of Natural Resources. It is listed on the official park roster and therefore we had to visit it!

What I didn’t realize when we drove up there Monday was that this island is hard to get to. The island isn’t a tourist destination, it is a research location for UGA’s Marine Institute. You don’t just jump on the ferry and go there – you have to have someone on the island host you or you have to reserve a spot on the small, limited DNR tours that run a couple times a week.

Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo IslandLong story short, we drove 2 hours to get there on Monday and were told to come back Friday to get on a tour. We returned Friday to find out the tours didn’t run that day and even if they did they were all booked weeks in advance. As we sadly got back in the car to drive away, a park ranger called us over and introduced us to a good Samaritan who worked on the island. He took us under his wing and “hosted” us for the morning.

What luck! The man not only gave us a private tour of the Reynolds Mansion (owned by the son of big tobacco founding father R.J. Reynolds) but a golf cart to tour the island on our own with. We cruised around for about 2 hours visiting the beach, the marshes, and the 1820 light house.

Sapelo Island Photo Slideshow by William Haun