Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island. Iconic with wild horses photographed on pristine beaches, and made more famous as John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s wedding location, Cumberland is the largest in terms of continuously exposed land area and the most southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands.  Cumberland Island National Seashore is managed by the National Park Service. Cumberland is accessible by boat only.  More tourist information is here.

The “federally protected wilderness off the Georgia coast [is] larger than Manhattan,” writes Russ Bynum for USA Today. “Though wild horses graze on its marsh grasses, alligators lurk in its freshwater ponds and rare sea turtles nest on its pristine beaches, Cumberland Island also has a long human history” that includes the castle of Thomas Carnegie and the Greyfield Inn, built by the Carnegie family…. “A handful of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Candler heirs still retain private property here.”

The Timucuan Indians were the first known people to live on Cumberland Island (then called Missoe, meaning “beautiful island”). Archaeologists have found evidence Indians hunted here 4,000 years ago, and Spanish missionaries arrived in the 1500s. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, slave-owning planters grew cotton, rice, corn and indigo on the island.

October and November (annually), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources conducts controlled hunting for Ossabaw Hogs, deer, alligator, on various reserves including Cumberland Island, Harris Neck, Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, and Wassaw Island. For more hog hunt information.

Additional Resources:

Secret Seashore: Georgia’s Barrier Islands, Georgia Public Broadcasting