Who knew that riding horseback on the beach would become a bucket list item I never knew I wanted to do? It was simultaneously added and crossed off my list. I will be honest – I have not ridden a horse since I was a 10 year old at Girl Scout camp. I remember the last time I was on a horse, a storm came upon us, a crack of thunder and lightning spooked my horse, and he shot of like a rocket. I was completely terrified. When Sue at Golden Isles Carriage and Trail at Three Oaks Farm called me about taking their two tours and writing my thoughts on my blog, I was a little nervous about riding a horse again. It has been 15+ years and I am nothing if not a huge chicken. However my fears were totally misplaced because horsing around on Jekyll Island, Georgia surpassed everything I imagined.
The island was hopping with people whether they lived on the island or were visiting for the numerous weddings or the Arts Festival. What was once a retreat of America’s wealthy elite, it is now a slow-moving beach town full of so many activities. The island retains its natural authenticity because it is a state park. There are few retail spaces on the island unless they are approved specifically by the Jekyll Island authority. Because of that, I love the slow coastal living of the island.
I arrived on the island on perhaps the coldest March day in my recent memory. Or perhaps I am just exaggerating because I am always cold. Earlier in the week, it was a lovely 70 degrees but at Jekyll, it was a very cold and windy 60 degrees that actually felt like 45-50 degrees! After a few quick heavily wind-blown beach selfies, I continued on to my destination. Since being late is a major pet peeve of mine, I was the early bird. I got to watch the two helpers unload, saddle, and feed the horses. I was mesmerized by the beautiful horses and I momentarily forgot my fears. We chatted for a bit until the other riders of the tour, a lovely family of four from Virginia that had no horse experience, arrived.
After watching a safety video and signing a liability waiver, we met our tour guide Renee and were assigned our horses. Perhaps sensing my fear and noticing I was the shortest in the group (a common occurrence with my 5’2″ height), Renee gave me the largest horse of them all. Ironic, right? But it turns out, Belle was the sweetest horse ever. Although she is a retired carriage horse, the beautiful Belgian horse was a gentle giant. We became best buds for our ride.
After loading up on my gentle friend, our guide Renee took and pointed out some gorgeous point of interests on our trail. The tour I took was an hour long and we ambled along the gorgeous marsh and ended up on the beach. It was such a lovely experience. We got to see some wildlife such as a fink, a fiddler crab or two, and those crazy dive-bombing ocean birds. It was also surprisingly relaxing with the gentle sway of the horses walk and somehow it felt so warm despite the colder temps – it was like even the weather could not affect the fun that I had.
Check out some photos from my ride. We went all the way to the edge of Driftwood Beach which is this incredible part of Jekyll where I am dying to take photos.
“If you enjoy your ride,
kiss your horse
and tip your guide!”
After my dopamine high from riding Belle, I kissed her as instructed and headed to the historic district of the island to begin my second tour – an historic narrated carriage ride. I met my tour guide Miguel and it turns out I was the only rider for the tour – score! He was a gracious fount of information and he patiently answered my numerous questions about the buildings, the old club members like the Rockefeller family, and the history of the island. The slow sway under the gorgeous oak trees filled with Spanish moss, the gorgeous island architecture of the old Jekyll Island Club and various other buildings, and the atmosphere truly made an already incredible day even better.
Whether it is for a trail beach ride or a historical horse drawn carriage ride, horsing around on Jekyll Island with Golden Isles Carriage and Trail at Three Oaks Farm is for sure to be a fun trip by yourself or with your family!
Although the tours were provided by Three Oaks Farms in exchange for this journal entry write up, this is an honest review and my true opinion.