Cumberland Island National Seashore should top the list for those seeking a splendid, natural setting with fascinating history. Fall and winter in this region of the U.S.A. are seasons coveted by outdoorsy types who love spending lots of time in the “Great Outdoors.” It’s an ideal time for hiking or biking wooded trails or taking walking tours to explore historic sites on Cumberland Island, GA. See Fall 2021 and Winter 2021 Cumberland Island National Seashore ferry schedule further below.
Some opt to skip summertime trips, aware of the season’s oppressive heat and humidity, typical in the South. Walking around this island is more challenging in the hottest months of the year. Instead, many plan Cumberland Island visits during the fall and mild winter seasons.
Cumberland Island, Perfect Destination For Solitude Seekers
Cumberland Island will be especially appreciated by those seeking solitude and a dose of nature therapy. Although it’s a sizable barrier island (Georgia’s largest), daily visitation to Cumberland Island National Seashore is capped at 300 people. The National Seashore’s ferry service returned its passenger load back to full 100% capacity earlier this year in April 2021, (from the former pandemic-related two-thirds capacity).
Ferry departure dock, Park Service Visitor’s Center and Cumberland Island National Seashore’s Museum are all located on the mainland in St. Marys, Georgia.
Cumberland Island National Seashore’s new ferry dock located near the Visitor’s Center on the Georgia mainland in St. Marys has opened (address — 113 St. Marys Street St. Marys, GA 31558). Also, all dock repairs at Cumberland Island’s Dungeness, Sea Camp, and Plum Orchard were completed in springtime 2021, so all three docks are back in service. (Pictured below, Dungeness Ruins).
The ferry ride is 45-minutes each way, see ferry times below. The National Seashore’s ferry service operates seven days a week during October and November between St. Marys, GA and Cumberland Island, GA. Face coverings are required to be worn on the ferry.
Fall Ferry – Oct. 1, 2021 To Nov. 30, 2021 (7 Days)
|Leave St. Marys||Arrive Cumberland||Leave Cumberland||Arrive St. Marys|
|9 am||9:45 am||10:15 am||11 am|
|11:45 am||12:30 pm||4:45 pm||5:30 pm|
Winter Ferry – Dec. 1, 2021 – Feb. 28, 2022 (5 Days)
Beginning December 1, 2021, the Cumberland Island National Seashore winter ferry does not operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The winter ferry schedule (Dec. 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022), operates only five days a week. The ferry times during winter season Thursdays through Mondays are same as the fall schedule.
It’s a rare day when a scheduled ferry gets canceled due to inclement weather. Even on the foggiest days of winter (as pictured above), the ferry will run. Sea fog is more common during the winter season, and can roll in unexpectedly, engulfing Cumberland Island. The fog adds a damp chill, so do bring along a light jacket in case the weather changes during your visit.
Arrive Early — An Hour Before Ferry Time
Both the National Park and its ferry concessioner advise ferry reservation holders to arrive to the Cumberland Island Visitors Center in St. Marys, GA one hour BEFORE scheduled ferry departure time. There are no refunds for those who miss the ferry, and latecomers’ ferry reservations “may be given to walk-on passengers.”
Plum Orchard Tours Remain Closed
Plum Orchard mansion tours remain closed in 2021. This Carnegie mansion has been undergoing renovations (not yet complete as of late October 2021).
How Much Do Cumberland Island Ferry Tickets Cost?
The cost for getting to Cumberland Island and then taking walking tours requires the purchase of a round-trip ferry ticket — $34.10 per adult (with taxes and fees), plus a $10 park entry fee per adult. (Those interested in taking the Lands & Legacies van tours, or bringing a personal bike on the ferry, or renting a bike at Sea Camp ranger station will pay additional fees, see these transportation options further below).
No Ferry Between Amelia Island & Cumberland Island National Seashore
Although Cumberland Island is located in very close proximity to Amelia Island, there is no public ferry service to the National Seashore from Amelia Island. Exception — Guests of the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island, pictured below, take the Inn’s private ferry, the Lucry R. Ferguson, directly from Amelia Island’s Fernandina Harbor Marina to Cumberland.
Those considering a visit to Cumberland Island National Seashore definitely need to plan ahead.
Day Trips To Cumberland Island — What To Bring & Additional Cost For Bikes Or Van Tour:
- Bring Food & Beverages (Carry On, Carry Off) — Visitors cannot buy a sandwich, snack, or beverages on Cumberland Island. Travelers must pack and carry around their daily needs — food, beverages, bug spray, sunscreen, etc.. Also, all must carry their trash back off the island. There are water fountains and restrooms located at Ice House Museum, Dungeness, Sea Camp, and Plum Orchard).
- Wear Comfy Shoes — Most visitors to Cumberland Island National Seashore will be required to get around by foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. As far as cycling on Cumberland, a limited number of visitors will be able to either bring their own bicycle on ferry or rent bikes.
- Biking Around Cumberland Island — A very small number of personal bicycles can be transported on the ferry. The “bring your own” bikes ferry transport costs $10 round trip (not each way). Another option is to rent bicycles that are picked up at Sea Camp, ($16 per day bike rental fee and rental bike supply is also limited, offered on a first come, first serve basis).
- Lands & Legacies van tours — The vans tours are the only vehicle transportation available to day trippers. The additional Lands & Legacies van tour ticket cost is $50.85 per person with taxes and fees. Van tours should be booked in advance to ensure availability. The van tour takes 5 to 6 hours and transports passengers to historic sites further north on Cumberland Island. Face masks are required while riding in van. The van stops include the First African Baptist Church, the Settlement, Robert Stafford’s plantation and the Cumberland Wharf. Described by the Park Service as a 30-mile trip over rough roads through dense forest, the ride can get bumpy on island’s northern end, an area much less traveled by visitors, compared to Cumberland Island’s southern end. Note that Lands & Legacies tour does not include the ruins of Dungeness located on the southern end of this barrier island. The van tour begins at Sea Camp and goes north.
Ferry Reservations — Buy Cumberland Island Ferry Tickets Online
Ferry tickets can be reserved in advance online by visiting the National Seashore’s concessioner’s Cumberland Island Ferry website. For further information or to make camping reservations, call the Cumberland Island National Park Visitors Center at (912) 882-4336. Or visit the Cumberland Island National Seashore website.