Kayaking to Cumberland Island- Three Kayaking Day-Trips to Cumberland
Visiting Cumberland Island is an out-of-the-ordinary experience no matter how you get there; but kayaking to Cumberland Island is probably the most exciting and spectacular way to enjoy this jewel of a barrier island. Though kayaking to Cumberland Island is not a trip for beginners, experienced kayakers with self-rescue skills should have no problem crossing the Cumberland Sound or Intracoastal Waterway and making their way back from a day on the island. Here are a few day-trips for experienced kayakers who want to spend a day on Cumberland Island, but don’t want to take the ferry.
From Crooked River State park to Plum Orchard on Cumberland Island: Put-in at the Crooked River State Park boat ramp at high-tide, or at least before the middle of the out-going tide – about 3-hours after high tide. You will be heading East with a very strong out-flowing current taking you to Cumberland Island. A little more than a mile from the put-in, the Crooked River makes a nearly 90-degree turn to the Southeast and then back to the East after about another mile. After the turn to the Southeast, stay along the left side and look for the big left turn. As you continue out the Crooked River, you’ll be heading East toward the tree line on Cumberland Island and will soon be able to see the white-structures at Plum Orchard.
The trip from Crooked River State Park over to Plum Orchard is approximately 6-miles and should take less than 2-hours. Ideally, you should look for an early enough high tide to get you to the island and give you plenty of time for sightseeing before having to head back. You definitely want to be back at Crooked River by high tide – or by dark if high tide is after dark. Keep in mind that even strong, experienced paddlers will find it impossible to make the trip against the strong tidal currents in the Crooked River.
From St. Mary’s to the entrance of Beach Creek: Put-in at the boat ramp at the St. Marys waterfront at or after high tide to make this 4-mile trip out the St. Marys River and across the Cumberland Sound to the area near the entrance to Beach Creek. The outgoing tidal currents in the Cumberland Sound will be pushing you toward Amelia Island and the Atlantic Ocean, so you’ll want to monitor your ferry angle as you cross the Sound. Beachcombing on this part of Cumberland Island usually produces pocketfuls of shark teeth and frequent wild horse sightings. There is no navigation to this trip; simply take the falling tide out of the St. Marys River and cross the Cumberland Sound to reach Cumberland Island. Enjoy Cumberland until after low-tide and then take the incoming tide, or flood tide, back to St. Marys. This trip should take about an hour to an hour and a half each way depending on winds and paddling speed.
From Amelia Island to the South end of Cumberland Island: The shortest, but most treacherous trip to Cumberland Island is from the boat ramp at the north end of Amelia Island straight across to the south tip of Cumberland. This route crosses the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and the Cumberland Sound in an area with abundant, heavy boat traffic, so safety and attention to details is important. The crossing itself is less than a mile; but this is a mile of potentially BIG, scary water. Go to Cumberland Island on an incoming tide and return to Amelia Island on an outgoing tide. Two important factors to remember are: First, that there are extremely swift currents in this part of the Cumberland Sound and ICW; and, second, the wind and weather will change while you’re on the island – making surface conditions for the return trip unpredictable. This is definitely not a trip for beginners and self-rescue skills are a must.
Before you go, call a local outfitter and check tide times and wind and weather forecasts. Also, make sure you have plenty of drinking water and something to eat in addition to having appropriate gear and clothing for the trip. Most of the year, sunscreen and insect repellant top the list of things to remember for your trip. There is a $4.00 fee for landing on Cumberland Island which can be paid at the Cumberland Island National Seashore Headquarters in St. Marys, or at one of the honor boxes located on the island. With just a little preparation, a day-trip to Cumberland Island is a lot of adventure and fun for a very reasonable price!
Jennifer Koerner has been a Professional Kayak Instructor and Guide for over 16-years, as well as being a 11-year Fire-Rescue-EMS veteran. Jennifer, along with her husband, Pete (also a professional kayak instructor and Fire-Rescue-EMS veteran), has owned and operated Up The Creek Xpeditions in St. Marys, Georgia since 1997. Jennifer is also a Peak Performance and Natural Wellness expert who operates a private practice in St. Marys, Georgia, where she has spent almost two-decades helping Olympic medalists and other world-class athletes achieve optimum performance and wellness.
Up The Creek Xpeditions has provided Corporate Team-Building and luxury resort kayaking services to clients such as The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Plantation and Cabin Bluff for over 15-years with a Perfect Safety and Customer Service Record. Up The Creek Xpeditions provides the very best in professional kayak guiding and instruction and has the highest safety standards in the industry.
Visit: http://www.UpTheCreekX.com to find out more. Or, you can email us at: KayakUTC@Gmail.com.
Also, feel free to contact us by phone at (912)882-0911.
Videos of some of our trips can also be seen on our You Tube channel: UpTheCreekX.