Sapelo Island is a Georgia coastal barrier island, located between the Savannah River and St. Mary's river. The 6,100 acre island is one of the largest barrier islands on the Georgia coast.
Sapelo Island was developed into a thriving plantation by Thopmas Spalding in the mid-1800s. After the Civil War, large African-American communities were established on the island. In the early 1900s, the Coffin family purchased large tracts of land on the island. The Coffins later sold their holdings to tobacco heir R. J. Reynolds, Jr. The Reynolds family sold Sapelo to the state of Georgia. (Sapelo Island is also home to the Reynolds Mansion. The mansion was origially built in 1810 by Thomas Spalding, and was restored by R. J. Reynolds in the 1940s.)
Today, many of Sapelo Island's attractions are related to the African-American community Hog Hammock, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, and the University of Georgia's Marine Institute. On the island, you can visit the Sapelo Lighthouse, view giant sea turtles along Nanny Goat Beach, and observe a variety of other wildlife.
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Sapelo Island is accessible by boat. The Sapelo Island Visitors Center, located at Meridian, is the starting point for island tours using the state-owned ferry. Travel time to the island is around 30 minutes. Few supplies are available on the island, so you should plan to bring any personal items you might need. Make sure to dress in casual, comfortable clothing. Also, bugs are a nuisance on the island, so you'll probably want to bring insect repellent. At the Visitors Center, you can also enjoy interpretive exhibits and visit their gift shop.
To make reservations or for more information please call the Sapelo Island Visitor Center at 912-437-3224. Costs: Adults (13 and up): $15.00 Children (6 – 12): $10.00 Ages 5 and under: Free.
Private tours of Sapelo Island can also be arranged through island residents. Residents also offer room and bike rentals.
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