You've heard tales of the Jekyll Island sandbar. Just where is it, exactly?
Between Central Dunes Beach and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel Pavilion is a stretch of beach known by some as Kite Beach. Kite boarders (and buggiers) like to hang out there, riding the sand or waves, their boards and buggies powered by the wind.
Just off the beach here is the famous - or "infamous" - Jekyll Island sandbar.
Famous because at low tide you can see throngs of beachcombers walking the length of the sandbar - which is maybe 3/4 of a mile long - searching for marine life. Infamous because, if you're not safety conscious and aware, you can find yourself in a dangerous - even deadly - situation. Don't ignore the posted safety signs!
The Sandbar Dance -
Sandbars are part of the life cycle of islands, and harbor seabirds and marine animals in plenty. They grow from sand transported by rivers or from barrier islands, deposited willy-nilly by currents and tides.
Low tide reveals hidden sandbars, along with their attractions - ocean treasures such as shells, sand dollars, crabs, and other sea creatures. Shorebirds and seabirds use these sandbars for resting and feeding.
These shoal areas are continually changing, here today, gone tomorrow, shifting with the effect of wind and wave and tide.
Safely Exploring the Jekyll Island Sandbar -
The Jekyll Island sandbar is mostly safe, usually only posing a threat to unwary boaters, and is perfect for family adventure expeditions - but at low tide only. Then, the exposed sandbar looks like an alien surface, or a desert, with ridges of sand sculpted by the current. You can walk a long way - about 3/4 of a mile - out to sea from the beach. Look back at all the ant-like little people!
SANDBAR HINT! Make sure you wear sandals, flip-flops or water shoes while exploring. The hard-packed sand can be hard on the soles of your feet. A good sunblock and a hat won't hurt, either. Also, tell the kids to take a pail for their "treasure" hunt.
Hours on the beach, playing with the kids in the sun and wind and water, can be tiring. So make sure everyone in your party has the stamina to walk to lands end and back. It can be an exhausting trek for older folks and little children.
If you decide to explore the sandbar with your kids, safety is paramount. Keep an eye on time and tide. As high tide starts to creep in, it's time to head back. At high tide, the sandbar is under up to 10' of water!
Swimming back to shore against tidal currents can exhaust the best of swimmers and lead to drowning. Several deaths have occurred here in the past, so the danger is real.
Take it seriously, enjoy the sandbar at low tide, and get back safely before the water starts to rise. The best adventures are the ones you live to brag about.