Get Out! Walking for Exercise or Exploring by Foot - Jekyll Island from a Whole New Perspective

Walking for exercise during your vacation may seem extreme, but it's a great way to discover hidden Jekyll Island scenic treasures.

And, to me, walking for fitness beats jogging on the beach any day. Cause (unless I'm playing tennis) I hate to run!

Perfect Walking Paths Criss-Cross the Island -

Okay. You've talked (Conned? Bribed?) the kids into walking for exercise as part of their Jekyll Island Adventures. So where to start?

Try a beach walk. But before you take off for the distant horizon, consider your poor feet. If you're walking for fitness, sandals are not the best footwear. Walking shoes (made especially for walking) are the best bet, but sneakers can stand in if that's all you have. More about shoes later.

A good place to start your beach walk is Driftwood Beach. If walking for exercise, park at Clam Creek Picnic Area. Walk across the pedestrian bridge that crosses Clam Creek, and down to the beach. Keep walking around the point.

There's one shallow creek you'll need to cross, but it shouldn't be a problem. You'll reach the main section of Driftwood Beach in about 30 minutes. To your left is St. Simons Island, protected by the St. Simons lighthouse.

While on your walk, enjoy the mysterious deadwood "driftwood" trees that give Driftwood Beach its name. The kids will love exploring and climbing on these twisted behemoths - and they make great photo ops, too.

At the end of Driftwood Beach, just before the breakwater rocks at Villas-by-the-Sea, there's an access trail that will lead you to Beachview Drive. But just before the road, the Marsh Trail (a paved bike trail) heads off to the right. You can follow it back to Clam Creek, or return the same way you came, via beach.

Walking for Exercise? The Marsh Trail Offers Astounding ViewsWalking for Exercise? The Marsh Trail Offers Astounding Views (photo courtesy Meredith Clark)

Any of the other beaches are great for walking for exercise, too, and you can access them at many places. South Beach is perfect - wide, flat and uncrowded, and one of the best places to see migrating birds and schooling dolphins.

Or keep on around South Beach to St. Andrews Point, and make a detour into St. Andrews Picnic Area, where you can see the monument to the Wanderer, one of the last slave ships to make landfall on the American coast.

More Great Walking Adventures -

What? Not walked out yet? Here are a few more paths perfect for walking for exercise, or just taking a leisurely stroll.

  • Walk the Jekyll Island Bike Paths, over 20 miles of paved (and natural) trails that will take you all over the island, past beaches, golf courses, the Historic District, restaurants, through maritime forests, and across salt water marshes.
  • Try aerobic walking along the Intra-Coastal Waterway on the paved pathways behind the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
  • Enjoy a leisurely romantic walk through the maze of walks and roads within the Historic District.
  • Walking for fitness is easy if you stroll through some of the  quiet, lovely Jekyll Island neighborhoods.

Of course, you can string bits and pieces of these walks together and design a walk that fits your fitness level.

Walking Shoes -

You don't need hiking boots, or even hiking shoes, to comfortably walk around Jekyll Island. But if you're walking for exercise, a good pair of walking shoes is a must.

Fitness walking requires shoes that fit comfortably and won't wear blisters on your feet. Whether looking for men's walking shoes, women's walking shoes, or kid's walking shoes, for walking on the beach or for trail and path excursions, a good fit is a must.

What to look for in a good walking shoe?

  • A low heel that bevels (or rounds) in. A beveled heel lets you keep a steady forward momentum and decreased sore shins.
  • Soles should be flexible, and there should be more bend in the toe. A good test is if you can twist and bend the shoe's toe area.
  • Light weight is a must. And it should be breathable. Stay away from heavy, clunky leather shoes or boots.
  • And it's a given that the shoe fits properly, especially in the toe box. Try for 1/2" between your toes and the end of the shoe.
  • Width counts, too. Your toes should move freely, and there should be no slip in the heel. And no pinching or binding!
  • Shop at day's end, when your feet may be slightly swollen, and wear the socks you'll be walking in, if possible. And try on both shoes.
  • Take your time, and stroll around the store. Walk on a hard surface.
  • Wear the shoes in your home for a few days to make sure they're going to fit right. If they don't fit, take them back.

You put a lot of miles on shoes. New Balance suggests shoes be replaced every 300 to 600 miles.

Wear walking shoes only for walks. And rotating two pairs of shoes will give them time to "breathe" and recover between walks.

With that said, here are a few shoes you might want to take a gander at.

One of the best womens walking shoes is the Nike Walker AS V.

There are many good mens walking shoes. One that's perfect for walking on trails or, on Jekyll Island's paved pathways, is L.L. Bean's New Balance 780 Walkers.

For kids walking shoes, Zoo York Kids has the Jack-St. Marks - or, for toddlers, try the New Balance Kids KX503.

Now for my infamous disclaimer. I haven't tried these shoes, but I did do a little research, read some reviews, and checked out what was being said about them. Make sure you follow the guidelines above about getting the right fit in walking shoes before you buy.

Ready to hit the trail? Walking for exercise is fun and invigorating. But it's a lot more fun to do it with your loved ones - and much more fun if you're walking on Jekyll Island!

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