loading spinner
Georgia/South Carolina

Discover Georgia’s Barrier Islands With Your Family

Program No. 23552RJ
Haul in great adventure as you and your family sail on a shrimp boat, climb a storied lighthouse, meet injured sea turtles and search for nesting turtles on a night walk on the beach!

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Protecting the Environment

We offset a portion of the emissions created by your travel. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Age 10 - 17
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
Jul 21 - Jul 26, 2024
Per Adult
Per Child
Jul 21 - Jul 26, 2024
/ Adult
/ Child
/ Adult
/ Child
/ Adult
/ Child
Select Date

At a Glance

Spend an exciting week with your family on sunny South Georgia beaches, hopping around to Jekyll, Saint Simons and Sapelo — three different and unique islands. Set out on an adventure together under the stars as you search the beach for a Loggerhead Sea Turtle laying her eggs. Drag a seine net through the surf as we explore the creatures that thrive in the shallows of the Atlantic. Dig through the rocky ruins of an old military fort, and shout your way into the Gullah culture through their songs and heritage. On this island adventure with your family, swimming, shrimping and learning all about sea turtles and the ecology around them will keep you busy during this memorable week together.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles daily, including beach and marsh walks; ferry ride to Sapelo. School bus or park van for field trips on Sapelo. Turtle walk at night over uneven terrain and sandy beach soil.
Family Programs
Family Programs
Share your love of learning with your family. These programs are designed for any combination of generations: grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and children.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • With scientists, meet sea turtles up close at a turtle hospital and on a night beach walk to look for nesting turtles.
  • Hop aboard Lady Jane, a retired US Coast Guard ship, to trawl (or fish with a net) for shrimp and other ocean critters.
  • Ferry to secluded Sapelo Island, to see how the Gullah people preserve an African heritage from before the Civil War!

General Notes

This is a Family program for participants, their adult children and grandchildren ages 9 and up. For a comparable intergenerational adventure for just grandparents and grandchildren, check out "Discover Georgia’s Barrier Islands With Your Family" (#2534)!
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Tom Murray
Tom Murray is a graduate of San Jose State University but is a Southerner by choice, having spent more than 45 years in the South absorbing the culture, customs and history of the region. Tom specializes in coastal history with an emphasis on the sea islands of Georgia. Few people know and love beautiful Cumberland and Amelia islands better than Tom. He has spent 25 years lecturing and leading Road Scholar groups to sites from the mountains to the sea.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Tom Murray
Tom Murray View biography
Tom Murray is a graduate of San Jose State University but is a Southerner by choice, having spent more than 45 years in the South absorbing the culture, customs and history of the region. Tom specializes in coastal history with an emphasis on the sea islands of Georgia. Few people know and love beautiful Cumberland and Amelia islands better than Tom. He has spent 25 years lecturing and leading Road Scholar groups to sites from the mountains to the sea.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Rice Gold: James Hamilton Couper and Plantation Life on the Georgia Coast
by James E. Bagwell
Drawing from a wealth of information, particularly from primary sources such as diaries, letters, plantation records, etc., the author has recreated the story of James Hamilton Couper and his times into an exciting, interesting, and readable account. The work begins with an introductory chapter. The Georgia Coast, a land of sluggish rivers, murkey blackwater swamps, and studded with a string of islands, is the home of a special breed of people. The are as wild, reckless, exciting, beautiful, and contradictory as the land itself. Bagwell examines the Couper heritage, from kings, war, and intrigue in Scotland to their firm establishment on the Georgia Coast. As colonial times move into antebellum, the Coupers progress, especially with James Hamilton Couper of Hopeton Plantation. On his grand tour of Europe, many on that continent commented on the abilities and potential of this young man. Couper made quite a name for himself in the area of politics, plantation management, scientific agriculture, archaeology, and architectural design. In the sinking of the Pulaski, he was hailed the hero of the occasion. The publication of this volume will be a valuable addition to the history and culture of the South, especially Georgia and its coast.
The Beaches are Moving
by Kaufman and Pilkey
Our oceans are eroding, sinking, washing out right under our houses, hotels, bridges; vacation dreamlands become nightmare scenes of futile revetments, fills, groins, what have you - all thrown up in a frantic defense against he natural system. The romantic desire to live on the seashore is in doomed conflict with an age-old pattern of beach migration. Yet it need not be so. Conservationist Wallace Kaufman teams up with marine geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, Jr., in a evaluation of America's beaches from coast to coast, giving sound advice on how to judge a safe beach development from a dangerous one and how to live at the shore sensibly and safely.
Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom
by William S. McFeely
In this moving and original work, William S. McFeely, one of this country's most distinguished historians, retells the history, and enters into the current-day lives, of the people who inhabit Sapelo's Island off the coast of Georgia, descendants of slaves who once worked its huge cotton plantations. It is at once a richly detailed work of historical reconstruction, a sensitive portrait of the lives of black Americans in this particular place and in our own time, and a moving meditation on race by a writer who has made its painful dilemmas his life's work as a historian.
God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia
by Cornelia Walker Bailey
Equal parts cultural history and memoir, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man recounts a traditional way of life that is threatened by change, with stories that speak to our deepest notions of family, community, and a connection to one’s homeland. Cornelia Walker Bailey models herself after the African griot, the tribal storytellers who keep the history of their people. Bailey’s people are the Geechee, whose cultural identity has been largely preserved due to the relative isolation of Sapelo, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. In this rich account, Bailey captures the experience of growing up in an island community that counted the spirits of its departed among its members, relied on pride and ingenuity in the face of hardship, and taught her firsthand how best to reap the bounty of the marshes, woods and ocean that surrounded her. The power of this memoir to evoke the life of Sapelo Island is remarkable, and the history it preserves is invaluable.
St. Simons Island: A Summary of Its History [Paperback]
by R. Edwin Green
South of Savannah, along the picturesque and historic coastline of Georgia, lies a group of barrier islands known as the Golden Isles. This collection of coastal Sea Islands has attracted people—Native Americans, European settlers and vacationing sun-seekers—throughout history, for the islands’ bountiful resources and appealing climate. Perhaps the brightest jewel of these islands is St. Simons Island. The History Press is proud to release St. Simons Island: A Summary of its History, by local resident and historian Reverend Edwin Green. Green has compiled an informative volume, which highlights the unique and developing history of one of Georgia’s most popular Sea Islands.
Jekyll Island: The Nearest Faraway Place
by unknown
Jekyll Island's undisturbed beauty, combined with its pleasant year-round weather and refreshing ocean breezes, provides a breathtaking backdrop for a variety of wonderful experiences. Located midway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island is approximately 5,700 acres and the smallest of Georgia's barrier islands. As a tribute to the Island's allurement, the Jekyll Island Authority has published Jekyll Island The Nearest Faraway Place, a coffee table book recognizing the inspired talent of residents and guests and their ability to capture unique perspectives of our cherished Island. During the period of March through September 2010, a competition was conducted to discover photographs of, and poems about, Jekyll Island. Scenic images and inspiring narratives portraying Jekyll's beach and marsh, sunrise and sunsets, wildlife, nature, historic landmarks, and views from above were sought for inclusion in this project. Submissions included 70 from Georgia, 17 from different states, 4 from Canada and 1 from the United Kingdom. Results of the competition were announced and the winning selections are featured in the commemorative publication. Copyright of the selected works and all rights to publish became property of Jekyll Island Authority. Jekyll Island The Nearest Faraway Place is now currently available at the Visitor Information Center, the Commissary, the Jekyll Island Book Store, the Jekyll Island Museum Store, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Hattie's Books in Brunswick.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Games
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation. 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. Educational content for lectures and field trips will be provided by local experts including naturalists. Program-related transportation will be provided by private motorcoach as well as bus and ferry. We will have meals at the hotel and local restaurants. Periods designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. The schedule is also subject to change depending on beach tides. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll gather for games so everyone can get to know one another better. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

St. Simons, Ft. Frederica, Lighthouse
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 25 miles throughout the day, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking at field trip sites; variable terrain, sand and paved sidewalks. Digging at archaeological site, dirty and hot, covered. St. Simons Lighthouse has 129 steps to the top.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll hop aboard a motorcoach and ride to St. Simons Island and Fort Frederica, 18 miles away. At Fort Frederica, a naturalist will tell us the history of the 18th-century fort and town of Frederica. We’ll also learn about methods used to examine the historical archaeology. We’ll then have some expert instruction and participate in an archeological dig at Fort Frederica, identifying and classifying findings in a lab on-site. As we explore the fortress’s barracks, walls, moat, and surrounding houses, we’ll learn about its history. We’ll also see a film to gain a deepened perspective on Georgia’s colonial and Civil War eras. After our archaeology experience, we’ll ride past Christ Church on the way to the Lighthouse in the Village.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We'll visit the St. Simons Island Lighthouse, built in 1862-1872. The Lighthouse is 104 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter at the base, tapering to 10 feet at the base of the gallery. It has 129 steps to the top. The light continues to be active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. We'll return to the hotel for some pool time.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We will be joined by staff from Tideland Nature Center for a “hands-on” presentation with reptiles.

Sapelo Island Day Trip, Gullah Ringshouters
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Activity note: Early morning getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 60 miles round-trip, approximately 2 hours. Getting on/off a ferry; ride to Sapelo Island approximately 30 minutes; restrooms on board. Getting on/off a school bus. Walking about 1 mile over several hours throughout the day; uneven terrain, sand, grass. Wear or take a bathing suit for beach and seining; restrooms at beach area.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach at 7:00 a.m. for the ride to Darien, Georgia, to be in time for the only ferry that goes to Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. There we’ll hop aboard a school bus with a local expert who will tell colorful stories of island inhabitants as we ride around the island. First, we’ll visit the “new” lighthouse on the south end, then hike into the maritime forest to learn why the old one could no longer serve its original purpose. Next, we will head over to Nanny Goat Beach. We’ll compare this pristine specimen of Georgia barrier island to Jekyll Island. We’ll learn about barrier island dynamics and frolic in the ocean. We will go on a seining adventure to find out “What’s In The Water/Turtle Food Resources”. We’ll be seining in knee-deep ocean water and identifying what we catch — and what we bring up in the net may be a surprise!

Lunch: Lunch provided by one of the local families on Sapelo.

Afternoon: As we head back to the ferry after lunch, we'll ride past the R.J. Reynolds Mansion. We can't go inside because the mansion host overnight guests. We may be able to spot alligators in the ponds of the R. J. Reynolds Mansion where we’ll have a brief photo op at this famous property that had a rich history of inhabitants such as Howard Coffin and Thomas Spalding. At the end of the field trip, we’ll return the way we came via ferry and motorcoach.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We will gather for a presentation by a local group specializing in Gullah Geechee cultural performing arts such as singing, chanting, and acting, much of it with a historical focus on slavery. From the National Park Service: “The Gullah Geechee people are the descendants of West and Central Africans who were enslaved and bought to the lower Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia to work on the coastal rice, Sea Island cotton and indigo plantations.” This group was invited to participate in the Washington D.C. inaugural parade for President Obama. Kids will be taught dancing and are welcome to join in.

Shrimp Boat Trawl, Sea Turtle Center
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 12 miles each way, approximately 20 minutes. Getting on/off retired Coast Guard ship by ramp, now a shrimping boat; study cruise approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Sea Turtle Center is located right behind the hotel, less than one-tenth of a mile. Standing in Turtle Center up to an hour; benches outside.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will start off the morning by riding from Jekyll Island to Brunswick, Georgia, approximately 12 miles. At the dock, will board the “Lady Jane,” a 49-passenger steel ship that was retired from the United States Coast Guard and is now a shrimping boat. The captain and his mates will provide educational commentary as we go. We’ll also watch as the crew demonstrates how to trawl the waters for a catch. We’ll have an opportunity to join in by helping to sort out the shrimp from the other types of fish that could be in the net. Species may include bluecrab, sand shark, puffer fish, horseshoe crab, blacktip, bonnethead, amberjack, whiting, spot, crocker, or others. We’ll return to the dock and ride back to the hotel after our field trip.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk over to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to learn more about the habitat of these unique animals. We’ll also learn about conservation efforts being taken by researchers and environmentalists and how to be responsible people in caring for the ecosystem’s health. The Sea Turtle Center promotes educational initiatives, conducts research and rehabilitation efforts for sick and injured animals while educating the public. This is a self guided exploration with the Center’s staff on hand to answer questions. The remainder of the afternoon is free. You might like to go independently on a narrated tram ride to learn about Jekyll Island history with entrance into one of the millionaire cottages (not included in our programming). Or, enjoy swim time at the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. We will provide a list of available choices. You might like to eat out independently at one of the restaurants on Jekyll or dine at the hotel.

Evening: Free evening.

Boneyard Beach, Barrier Island Dynamics, Night Turtle Walk
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Activity note: Walking on sandy, wet, uneven beach terrain at Boneyard Beach, which is sandy and wet with fallen trees.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll start the day off with an early morning beach walk and talk about barrier island dynamics focusing on Jekyll Island. Note: This activity is tide dependent and could take place in the afternoon in the conference room if necessary. We’ll head out to the beach by trolley or van for activities on Great Dunes Beach. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll stop at Boneyard Beach and explore the shoreline to observe the longshore current and its movement of the sand along the coastline. As low waves fill the tidal pools, we’ll wade in to look for different organisms that might be there, before high tides arrive once again and carry them away. We’ll also climb trees, do sand-filled “research activities,” watery investigations, and have tons of photo-ops.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free Time

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner. We’ll gather together one last time in a sharing and learning circle called Sea Turtle Roundup. We’ll recap our week and answer any remaining questions.

Evening: We will leave by motor coach or trolley to meet the Georgia Sea Turtle Center educators on the beach for our night turtle walk. A staff member will explain the legal rules, regulations, and safety considerations for our “turtle walk” field trip. Flashlights, camera flashes, and other lights are not allowed. The staff will have a special flashlight that meets the requirements of the Jekyll Island Lighting Ordinance. We’ll then walk along the beach with a local expert and Center staff to search for nesting sea turtles. This walk will begin at 9:00 pm and last 2 hours. It is a late night event but well worth it.

Program Concludes
Jekyll Island, Georgia

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.