Although it may seem like a spur-of-the-moment activity, exploring the shoreline in hopes of finding keepsakes is a beloved pastime backed by nearly a century of tradition. It’s called beachcombing, and it’s much more than a simple walk on the beach.
Luckily, we have exciting beachcombing right here on Jekyll Island. Check out our tips on how to experience the best that beachcombing has to offer!
What You’ll Need to Bring
Preparation is key. Although it’s mostly a matter of personal preference, there are a few key things we recommend every beachcomber take.
Few things feel as wonderful as stepping out into the warmth of a sun-covered beach. But get too much of those rays and you’re in store for another sensation that’s just as memorable: sunburn.
Anyone planning to spend more than a few minutes outdoors should have proper sun protection. Consider wearing a wide hat with at least a four-inch brim to protect your neck, ears, eyes and scalp. A pair of sunglasses with UV ray protection will also prevent your eyes from getting hit with direct sunlight.
Lastly, and most importantly: always wear sunscreen. This means using the proper SPF (30 or higher), putting it on before heading outside and reapplying according to the product’s directions. If you have sensitive skin, you might avoid the midday hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense. The last thing you want to bring home from the beach is a rough bout of sunburn.
Wear a Watch
Keep an eye on the time. Not only will it help you stay prepared for changing tides, but it will also help you keep up with your sunscreen regimen.
Waterproof watches are your safest bet. Although your phone has its own clock, a reliable backup is a must when adventuring outdoors.
Bring Your Camera
Beachcombers find all sorts of treasures hidden along the beaches. But you can’t always take home what you see. Whether it’s due to park rules or the sheer size of what you find, some things have to stay on the beach. In these cases, a camera allows you to capture these memories without disturbing the coastal environment.
It goes without saying you’ll need a bag to carry home anything you find while on the beach. Unfortunately, there’s also a good chance you’ll run into trash during your trek. That’s why you have a second bag. A two-bag system lets you comb the beach and do your part to keep the beach beautiful!
A Shovel and a Grabber Stick
Bring a shovel along in case you need to dig deeper than a few feet to unearth hidden trinkets and treasures. And for those long treks, a grabber stick can save your back from the stress of bending over throughout the course of a day.
When You Should Go
You’re going to want to plan your trip around storm systems and the daily tidal schedule.
Visit After a Storm
The beach is an entirely new place after stormy weather. Heavy winds and rain shift the sand and debris along the beach, revealing items previously buried beneath the sand. Along with that, strong currents usually accompany coastal storms. These currents are capable of bringing items to shore that were once hidden deep in the ocean.
During Minus Tides
The term “minus tides” describes tides lower than the average low tide for that location. Essentially, it’s a really low tide, and that’s great news for anyone exploring the beach. Minus tides give combers an opportunity to venture into parts of the beach not usually accessible — meaning there’s a greater chance of finding unique treasures.
That said, tidal schedules change from day to day. Make sure to check the tidal schedules before you head out!
And on the topic of tides, shifting tides can change the landscape of the beach. For instance, during high tides, some beaches on Jekyll Island become inaccessible.
What You’ll Find
Beaches are full of sights and wildlife — two beachcombing trips are rarely the same. Each adventure offers something new, something that you’ve potentially never seen. So, what can you expect?
Seashells, Sand Dollars and Driftwood
The changing tides have a way of bringing various ocean mementos to the shoreline. On almost any trip to the beach you can expect to come across the usual batch of seashells. Just check to make sure those shells aren’t still home to anything from the ocean!
Seashells are just the beginning. At Jekyll Island, you’ll also find sand dollars and various pieces of driftwood. Both are favorites among beachcombers from all over, and we encourage you to take home whatever you discover so long as you keep moderation in mind.
Along with hermit crabs (they live in the shells mentioned above), expect to see coastal wildlife, such as seagulls, egrets and herons. In June and July, you may see a few sea turtles and nests, as well.
Remember, have your camera with you and capture wildlife photos from a respectable distance. Please do not disturb the wildlife. The only exception here is dead sand dollars. If you do find any, treat them the same way you would seashells: in moderation.
Jekyll Island Treasures
During the first two months of the year, the Jekyll Island Authority hides handcrafted glass floats along the beach, and all of Jekyll Island, for lucky beachcombers to find. These glass floats are reminiscent of the ones used by fisherman in the early 1900s that would sometimes break off and wash up on shore for beachgoers to find.
Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island is fully supportive of beachcombers. However, there are some rules to keep in mind while spending your time on the island:
- Stay off the dunes
- Only take home empty shells and dead sand dollars
- Fill in sand castles and holes on the beach
- Feeding of any wild animals is prohibited
- Metal or mineral detection devices are prohibited
- Do not approach sea turtles and stay clear of marked sea turtle nests
- Please protect the sea turtles by not using artificial white lights on the beach at night
For a more detailed list of rules, check out Jekyll Island’s FAQ page.
Beachcombing is a wonderful way to experience the great outdoors. Every beach has its own story to tell, and those stories are always changing. We just ask that you put in the effort to preserve the environment on Jekyll Island’s beaches and any other beaches you may visit.
And if you’re looking for a place to relax and explore, consider staying with Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Located just a bike ride away from the ocean, Jekyll Club’s location puts you in the center of relaxation and premiere beachcombing. Visit our website and take a look around for yourself if you’re planning a beachcombing getaway.