Guide: Biking and Alligator Spotting on Jekyll Island


July 2018 (Last updated in April 2020)

Jekyll Island in Georgia is one giant Kinder Surprise (at least to us Norwegians!). Where else can you hop on a bike and see alligators, picture perfect beaches, mating snakes, adorable residential areas, and wonderful marshlands, all in a half-day bike trip?

On our third road trip through the Southern States of the USA, we decided to go to Jekyll Island. Despite having visited the Georgian coast a few times before, we had never crossed the bridge over to Jekyll Island.

As we love islands visits, it was about time we explored this bike-friendly retreat.

We rented bikes at our hotel and set out to explore Jekyll Island in the afternoon. Seeing an alligator was our number one goal, and after getting advice from the hotel staff, we headed off to Horton Pond.

Even before we managed to lock our bikes by the pond, we heard other people talking about the alligators. Bingo!

Jekyll island bike alligator safari

Two alligators were hanging out in Horton Pond. A big one was lounging in the sun at a floating platform, anchored at a safe distance from the viewing deck. Right next to the platform, a baby gator stared at us intently. A rattling noise drew our attention to a grassy area nearby, and revealed two mating snakes. Our inner David Attenborough was thrilled!

Jekyll island bike alligator safari horton pond

Jekyll island biking trail baby alligator Horton pond

The human-made viewing deck at Horton Pond was the perfect place to hang out and observe the wildlife, and we spent quite some time just enjoying the scenery. As we were about to leave, we discovered the entrance to the Tupelo Trail, just beside the pond. Already pumped up by the alligator spotting, we were ready to explore more of the area and turned onto the trail.

Jekyll island Tupelo trail bike trip

The Tupelo Trail is a 0.7-mile loop that takes you through several maritime plant communities. Along the trail were plaques with information about the different plant species. We had a great hike and enjoyed learning more about the plants and trees we saw along the path.

Jekyll island Tupelo trail tree path bike trip

Jekyll island Tupelo trail biking trail

After hiking the Tupelo Trail, it was time to get back on the bikes. A short ride further took us to Driftwood Beach. It sure lived up to its name, with beautiful driftwood scattered across the entire sandy stretch. The ambiance was nothing like we had ever experienced at a beach before, and we could see why it is so popular for weddings; in fact, one was taking place at that very moment, a bit further up the beach. It was pretty cool to see a wedding party in such spectacular surroundings.

Jekyll island Driftwood beach bike trip

Jekyll island Driftwood beach biking trail

From Driftwood Beach we biked through wetlands with swaying grass and singing birds until we reached Jekyll Island Fishing Pier. This was another beautiful sight in the soft evening light, and the pier is apparently a great spot for both fishing and crabbing. A group of people horseback riding on the beach completed the serene atmosphere.

Jekyll island Clam creek fishing pier sunset

Time just flew by thanks to all the beautiful things to observe along our route. The bicycles we had rented had to be returned before sunset, and we were almost out of time. We had no choice but to speed up and head back. On our way back to the hotel, we saw cute squirrels, stylish propeller airplanes at the small airport, lovely houses with beautiful gardens, and trees covered in Spanish moss.

Jekyll island airport plane sunset bike trip

We had one of our best bike rides ever at Jekyll Island and would have loved to spend more time on this magnificent island. Biking and alligator spotting on Jekyll Island is a truly wonderful experience not to be missed!

Jekyll island sunset biking trail wetlands tour

Tips:

  • Biking on Jekyll Island is suitable for most people, including children, as the paths are in good condition and the terrain is flat.
  • A number of companies rent out bikes on Jekyll Island.
  • Don’t be over-ambitious when you plan the ride. You will want to stop at multiple locations, meaning that time will fly past faster than you might think.
  • Grab a map of the bike paths before you set out.
  • Bring water and snacks so you can picnic at one of the many scenic areas along the way. (There are not many places where you can buy food in the northern part of the island.)
  • Also, bring swimwear and towels. There are multiple great swimming opportunities along the bike trails.
  • You may want to bring bug spray.

Link to full map of Jekyll Island

Link to bike rentals on Jekyll Island

Link to Jekyll Island official website

*We visited Jekyll Island in March 2018.

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