May 2016 – Cumberland Island is a national park accessible to day-use visitors only by boat. The ferry costs $28 per person and leaves at 9 AM or 11:30 AM. The ferry cost does not include the admission fee of $4 per person, payable at time of boarding. The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes and is a smooth, but somewhat crowded, ride.
Most day-use visitors disembark at the first stop, the south end of the island. If camping or renting bicycles, the second stop is best. We wanted to spend as long as possible on the island, so we booked our return ferry at 4:45 PM. The ferry does come a couple of other times, earlier in the afternoon, as well.
After leaving the boat, we walked to the Dungeness Ruins. We did see a snake along the wall, so be careful where you step during your visit. The ruins were interesting; it was evident that the mansion was quite a nice place in the past.
After the ruins, we took the boardwalk and pathway to the beach. It was quite a walk, probably a mile and a half, through hot sand. The views were varying and interesting, though. We had a picnic lunch on the beach (no trash cans; what you bring must go home with you) and then walked south along the water line.
We saw numerous animals, including wild horses, horseshoe crabs, raccoons, and fish. We walked as far south as we could and then had to turn back because the only other option was to walk north along the river (not sure this was allowed, and we had already seen a couple of snakes).
When we went back by the Dungeness Ruins, several horses were grazing in front of them. They were fun to watch in order to kill a few minutes before we had to be back at the dock.
Next time we visit, we will rent or bring bikes and explore the north end of the island. It would be very difficult to see the whole island in the limited time allotted on the island, but camping is an option as well.