Part of Georgia’s chain of ‘Golden Isles’, Jekyll Island is home to nature trails, family-friendly activities, and pet-friendly beaches. While the 22 miles of biking trails, artistically-maintained golf course and award-winning tennis center offers plenty of ways to enjoy the island, a favorite place to spend time is at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center .
Jekyll Island is home to the only sea turtle center in the state of Georgia. The sea turtle educational and rehab facility, GSTC, is open daily from 9-5, and provides guests with a variety of interactive exhibits and year-round programs.
The rehabilitation of these beautiful turtles began back in 2007 and since that time, workers have rescued, provided rehab and (in most cases) returned the healed turtles back to their ocean home. Since they opened the doors at GSTC, the staff and volunteers have cared for over 3,000 sea turtles and over coastal wildlife animals.
Expert-led programs and interactive experiences combine to provide awareness of wildlife conservation as well as environmental responsibility. Kids will love Scute’s School, with plenty of hands-on learning resources within the world of coastal wildlife.
As an adult, I enjoyed touring the center. Though it has been years since I went, it was one of the first places I had to visit once I moved to the area. I have always loved sea turtles and was thrilled to visit and get the behind-the-scenes tour. To see the care and healing these creatures were getting, it was truly a heartwarming experience. On the way out, my teen daughter and I hit the gift shop for plenty of turtle-themed souvenirs. I walked out with a t-shirt and turtle-shaped keychain with movable flippers. With a variety of items to choose from, go ahead and browse online at their gift shop.
Best Times to Spot Sea Turtles at the Beach
The best time to see these magnificent creatures in the wild is during their May-to mid-summer nesting season. The hatching season begins in August and lasts through October, giving guests to the island the chance of seeing newly-hatched sea turtles make their crawl to the ocean. Jekyll Island is one of the few places where up-close encounters can occur. Sea turtle season in Jekyll Island is a dream for nature lovers-near and far!
Ways to Support the GSTC
Looking to help make a difference at the Sea Turtle Center? Become a member and gain unlimited general admission to the rehab center, along with discounts from the gift shop and special programs and receive the membership newsletter, staying up to date on the happenings within the center. You can also symbolically adopt a sea turtle patient that will help offset the cost of food and medicine. The third way to help support the GSTC is by donation. Donate once or as a recurring monthly event.
A fun way to help support the center’s cause is to participate in the annual Turtle Crawl Race. This year’s Turtle Crawl is set for April 29th. There are three in-person races available: a 10K race that is $30 per person, a 5K race that is $25 per runner and a 1K fun run that is $20 per person. If you aren’t local, you can still participate as a ghost Crawler, which has a registration fee of $30 per person.
Registration is currently open and runners receive a 2023 Turtle Crawl t-shirt. Medals will be handed out to those runners placing within their age group. To receive a shirt, be sure to register by Friday, April 14th. Also, there is a price increase on April 9th, so if you want to participate, go ahead and register today.
The annual Turtle Crawl is a great way to help support the GSTC while having some fun within the community. Since its beginning in 2003, participants of the Turtle Crawl have raised more than $100,000 to help support the rehab and care of the sea turtles.
So, go ahead and register today and help support a great cause!