We rarely have annual visits to a specific location, except home. However, we have enjoyed Cumberland Island National Park so much, we have visited three years in a row, camping twice. This is a 7-year-old’s perspective. –Mom


You have to drive to St. Marys, Georgia, to catch the ferry to the island. You must book your ferry tickets considerably in advance and your campsite reservation 6 months ahead. At the visitor center before you go to Cumberland Island, you have to check in an hour or so before the boat. If you go at the wrong time, then they will send you back to your car. The ramps are kind of tight and small so that might be a little hard. Always have someone going behind you or something else to make sure that nothing falls off. Sometimes the captains help load. The rangers always have a talk before you get on the boat so you don't do anything wrong. You have to take a ferry across so I would recommend bringing a sweater because sometimes it is cold and windy. Also, the cold is always on one side and the hot is always on another side. So you might as well go to the other side if you are cool.


You have a mostly private beach that you can walk to near the Stafford campsite where we like to camp. You can walk for a long time on it. You cannot ride your bike on the trail because it is a rule, but you are allowed to ride on the beach.

There is a very thin bridge/boardwalk before the beach. To get there, you either need to walk across the bridge with your bike off or you need to walk off of the bridge and keep your bike on the bridge. Also, there are some parts where the bushes and trees aren't trimmed well so you might need to squeeze by. There are sometimes even big cactuses to watch out for.

The sand is sometimes damp when you get farther down towards the ocean, but up closer to the top is softer. Sand in the sun is very hot so you might want to walk near the ocean. The water is cold to us. If you get soaked in, you might be shivering on the way back to your campsite. There are lots of shells that you might break by stepping on them or riding your bike on them.

There is a large sand dune that is very hard to get your bike up on the way back. I would recommend not bringing your bike unless you are a very strong little kid. Sometimes my parents have to take my bike up the hill for me, and I walk behind them.

If you have sandals or jogging shoes that have holes in the side of them, you can find a tree or a rock so that you can shake the sand out of your shoes. Walking with your shoes shaking around sometimes can help. If you feel something funny in your shoe, like a lump, that's probably some sand.

When you come back from the beach, some people might tease you about having a beard which is really sand. You can wash yourself off at the hose outside the bathroom when you come back from the beach. We needed sunscreen and towels to sit on. You can even go explore the beach at night. Don’t forget a flashlight to help you get back, though. The forest is dark.


You can only camp at Cumberland Island for 7 days. It’s fun to camp and ride your bikes. 

They provide fire pits at your camp and logs to sit on if you are eating. You also need lots of bug spray because the bugs tend to get all over. You can drink the water at Stafford and Seacamp. The first thing to do at camp is set up your tent, especially get your sleeping bags and blow up mats. Normally we have to set up our tent in the rain, so we were very lucky not to set it up in the rain this time. I would recommend before you set up your tent looking around and making sure there are no sticks or anything hard that you might lay down on. Also, you might want to bring small pillows that can roll up so that your head is comfortable because the ground is mostly hard. At your campsite there is a bear box. Not for bears. They are for raccoons! You keep your food in it. You might want to put your helmets and gloves in the bear box unless you want raccoons and armadillos going around with them. If you are riding your bike, I recommend that. Little kids can’t get in the boxes any more than raccoons because their fingers are too short.

The bathroom normally feels private because there aren’t many people. There is one toilet stall and sink. There is a shower in each bathroom, but the water is cold which makes you not want to get into them. A water faucet is on the women's side of the bathroom. On the men's side is a hose. There are electric plugs to charge your phone.


You should go to Plum Orchard. It's a mansion built by the Carnegie family. It was originally a plum orchard. There's normally a lot of wild horses around the house.

The gun room has a piano. The National Park has learned that the piano is older than they thought. So it might leave. The basement has an engraved toilet. It has an elevator, but nobody knows how they got it up and down (no buttons), and it could not hold very much weight.

Dungeness was the first mansion that burned down, but it's kind of boring because all you can do is look at it. There are some horses around here, too. We even saw a colt.

For the Junior Ranger booklet, you have to make a food chain, you have to draw a sign of what you liked there, and you have to do a word search.


Dehydrate your food. Bring the food in plastic zip bags and keep the plastic bags for other uses. Do not throw them away in case you want to put your shells in them. And you might need to put trash in them. Metal utensils are better for camping. We eat in bamboo bowls. We do not bring plastic utensils or paper plates because you can only use paper plates once. We bring a camp stove and a rain fly to go over our campfire. Have your kids look around your campsite for fallen sticks to put in the firepit. You probably won't find many so be prepared to look around or not to have a campfire.


You can carry more things riding bikes. It gets you places faster, and you can do more things. If you are staying for a few days, then I would recommend a trailer and a backpack.  Also, on your bikes you can use saddle bags. They are very helpful, but you are very lucky if you don't have to carry them. You are even more lucky if someone else has to carry them. Also, you are very lucky if someone else gets to pull the bike trailer, which is probably very heavy with your sleeping bags and things.

Rain makes big puddles on the road if there is a lot of it. Puddles make it slower to ride.

If there is not as much rain, it will make damp and harder sand. That makes it easier to ride. Otherwise, the sand is so soft. If you don't have a trailer then the island will rent you a wagon to move your gear. [Rental carts are not allowed to go to Stafford campground.] If smaller kid tires aren't too good, then you can always send someone back to camp and pick up the trailer and put the bike and the kid into it. That happened to me.


You should always look out for ticks. Normally they are not at the beach but you can look out for them. Look on the top of your shoes for them. Sometimes you need to look under your clothes. The ticks and the chiggers tend to get mostly on your shoes and work up from there. They can make pretty bad bites so always be careful. We check for them daily. Pants are recommended because the bugs can't get to you as well. Dresses do not work too well, and they won't keep the bugs away. Also they might drag on your tire which won't be good especially if you get horse poop on them; so always bring shorts or pants. Disturbing other animals, like petting and feeding them, is not allowed. I like to count the armadillos that I see. Always be careful because some armadillos tend to not see you when you are riding. Sometimes you can see a turkey. Sometimes you can also see deer or other animals. I found some deer prints, but I just saw the back of the deer but not one that was near our campsite. The horses are wild so you should not feed them. The wild horses poop almost everywhere, even in the path, so I always look where I am going.  The park rangers say that there are shark teeth, but I don't believe that because we haven't found any on our three visits. But I have found lots of horse poop piles and other things. On the beach, sometimes you find crab claws or crabs. There are lots of jellyfish and other animals.

We found lots of sand dollars and Whelks. You can keep them [the dead ones], but the sand dollars broke on the way home.

It’s a good thing our memories together don’t break.