Sunday, May 6, 2018

Marina Review – Jekyll Harbor Marina (2018) Brand New!

Welcome to another marina review on the On Board Life. Using the N D S, A A, P P marina analysis model, I'll break down what you can expect when you make the marinas I'll be reviewing this season your destinations also. The views expressed are strictly my own.

There's always been one very good reason to stop at Jekyll Harbor Marina at Jekyll Island, Georgia, and that was to stop for the night and get the right tide to pass through the very shallow Jekyll Creek the next day. That is certainly still true, but there's a lot more happening that will attract you to the area, and it all starts with the marina itself.

View from the marina office
N: Navigability – The marina is located on Jekyll Creek at mile marker 684 of the ICW. It's smack dab on the magenta line. We came from the south and getting through St. Andrew Sound was a little tricky. As we made the near-hairpin turn at R-32 we couldn't find R-30. The depth of the southern half of Jekyll Creek (where the marina is) is a non-issue. If you're coming from the north, you have to negotiate through the shallow part of Jekyll Creek, the north end, before you get to the marina. The tide swing is typically around 7.5 feet. The north end of the creek's reputation for being stupid-shallow at anything approaching low tide is well-earned. Plan ahead.

D: Dockage No problem at all. The marina is an 850-foot long facing dock along the channel for transients with plenty of depth. It's an easy on-and-off. There are also slips on the shoreside that has a liveaboard community, and nothing adds “character” to a marina than liveaboard boats. The one thing that did seem to be in short supply were fresh water spigots.

S: Services – Gasoline, diesel, pump out, local technicians, haul-out for smaller boaters are all available at the marina. There is a West Marine in Brunswick, GA 11 miles away.

The property is well shaded, cool and comfortable.
A: Amenities – The property has a southern charm with lots of moss-covered trees and green areas. There is a swimming pool, shower/bathrooms for the marina guests, and there's a lounge-around vibe to the place. It's shady, comfortable, and pretty. (The dock itself is very exposed to heavy sunlight.) They also have bicycles and two electric golf carts available to use FOR FREE. The staff seems to work very hard to make sure guests are looked after well. Zachry's Riverhouse Restaurant is on the property. There are, however, some blemishes that are hard to ignore. While the shower/bathrooms were clean and quite serviceable, the cabinetry in a couple of them was delaminating and/or falling apart, and there was some rust on the inside door frames. It's not quite “rustic” yet, but the place certainly has character.

A: Accessibility – The last time we were at Jekyll Island was in 2013, and things are a whole lot different now than it was then. There are now a lot more services, stores, and restaurants on the island including what you could call a grocery store at the island's new central village. (We thought full provisioning would be out of the question, but you could certainly fill in things you are short of.) There are more restaurant choices, shopping is a real thing now, and there's a Westin Hotel on the beach. The main draw is the historic area that has faithfully maintained the old-world charm of the island's early development. It's beautiful, and it's all within an easy bike ride from the marina. And make sure you visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

P: Provisioning – As said above, the grocery store at the island's central village is really a tourist market though it does have a deli counter with a fair selection of meats and cheeses. There's milk, bread, butter, beer, wine, and some canned goods. If you really need to do full-on provisioning, you need to figure out a way to get a ride to the regular grocery stores in Brunswick or just take your boat there. There is also a very nice Flash Foods gasoline-convenience store a couple minutes bike ride from the marina. (It has a Dairy Queen attached to it and is the only fast-food kind of place on the island.)

P: Price – Their published transient price is $2.25 per foot, but they shell out all the typical discounts. They're the only game in town if you need to wait for the right tide to come along, but if you actually invest a day or two to explore the island and what it has to offer, it's a good value.

In my opinion, passing through Jekyll Creek with its crazy-shallow waters is, if you play your cards right, not that big a deal. Do your homework and plan ahead to get to it during at least mid-tide going up. Go slow and respect the potential for trouble. Or pull over at Jekyll Harbor Marina and let the staff fawn over you for a couple of days until the tides are exactly how you want them. And certainly get your butt on a bicycle and have fun exploring Jekyll Island. The marina has a few blemishes, but you really won't care as the island's natural beauty and relaxation radiation envelopes you.

Jekyll Harbor Marina gets FOUR out of five stars.

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  1. We always enjoy our time there and now having the restaurant open is a plus.
    Our timing has never been late enough in the season to enjoy pool time.

  2. Jekyll Island is a treasure. It's well worth a stopover of a couple days to explore by bike or golf cart. The island has an interesting history, unlike any other along the SE coastal area. Great review!