Beach Dogs Romp on Jekyll Island's Pet Friendly Beaches

Beach Dogs Paradise

If you have a fur-faced family member, and can't bear to leave your pal home while the family heads off to Jekyll Island for fun and adventure, then take heart. Jekyll Island is one of the most dog friendly vacation spots in Georgia.

Jekyll Island's beaches are heaven on earth for our canine friends. You'll need to adhere to Jekyll Island's Animal Ordinance, but restrictions are few.

  • Dogs (or cats, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, etc.) must be under their owner's direct control. Which, for your beach dog, usually means on a leash
  • Dogs aren't allowed to run free
  • From the boardwalk at South Dunes Picnic Area south to 2000' south of St. Andrews Picnic Area, no dogs allowed, leashed or not. This is to protect migratory seabirds and nesting sea turtles.
  • Unless you have a service dog. They're allowed.
  • Owners must scoop their pets poop, and dispose of it properly. (Yeah, the tide will wash it away, but out of sight is not necessarily out of mind, and fecal bacteria can be a real bitch).


Beach Dogs Maggie and SeaJay, courtesy JKD Atlanta

And that's pretty much it for rules and regs. What? Questions? Okay, ask away.

1) Why can't I let my dog run around unleashed on the South beaches? He's kind and gentle and wouldn't hurt a fly!

  • Dogs like to chase stuff, especially on large, windswept open areas like beaches, where there's room to roam. It's their canine nature. Jekyll Island's south beaches are home and sanctuary to many species of migratory birds that nest and shelter above the high tide lines. In their exuberance, unleashed dogs my "attack" these nesting birds, flushing them from their nest, and trampling or crushing nesting chicks.
  • Sea turtle nests may be endangered, too, as dogs may dig them up.
  • So unless you have a remote control to bring your dog back on command, keep him on a leash!

2) Okay. So just where can I take my dog? What's the best beach for beach dogs?

  • Fido's allowed anywhere north of South Dunes Picnic Area. Keep in mind that the further north you go, the narrower the beaches get (due to beach erosion). At high tide, some beaches are inaccessible. Best take your furry friend to the beach at low tide.
  • With that said, Driftwood Beach is the perfect beach for dogs. Plenty of room to roam there, and Driftwood Beach is a great place for photo ops - not only of dogs, but kids, too!

3) I have a cat. Can I bring her to the beach?

  • A cat. Really? You want to bring that bundle of nerves know as a feline to the beach? Well, I guess you could, but I wouldn't want to look after a terrified cat while on the beach, unless I had on a Kevlar swim suit. To each his own, I suppose. Try a cat carrier. Don't think a leash would work so well.

4) Darn it, I want to let my dog run free while on the beach! What's the harm?

  • Maybe none, but circumstances happen. Are you willing to take the chance that your dog won't pick a fight with the poodle just down the beach? Or attack and bite some kid? Stay safe, and stick to the letter of the ordinance.
  • That said…lots of folks do let their dogs off the leash. Every dog running free that's come up to me was very friendly. But still…most of those unleashed dogs have approached my wife and I as well as others walking by. No damage was done, but it could happen.

Beach dogs can have a blast on Jekyll Island's fine beaches. But to make your vacation—and your dogs—safe and fun, stay within the rules. They're in place to protect not only other beachcombers, but you and your pet as well. Obey the rules, and your fur friend can have a great dog holiday on Jekyll Island!

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The Wild Side