Don’t Miss Out on the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Event

If you’re looking for exciting and different things to do in Jekyll Island on your next visit and happen to be in town for the annual Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl hosted by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, then your prayers are answered!

The Turtle Crawl is just one of many Jekyll Island activities that everyone in the family can enter and enjoy.

It’s a great tradition that draws locals and vacationers alike and is truly a memorable day for all involved. It’s been referred to as a “race-cation,” and if you and your family are into such athletic events, here’s your chance to get in on the fun.

From top-notch Jekyll Island vacation rentals to beaches, a water park, and historic sites and attractions, there are plenty of reasons to visit this Georgia barrier island and enough to keep the whole family entertained. You’ll find that the Turtle Crawl race is one of many Jekyll Island events you will not want to miss!

About the Event

Since 2003, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has presented the Turtle Crawl race, a signature event that marks the start of the sea turtle nesting season in the area. This spring race is typically held in May or June.

The event, sanctioned by the USA Triathlon and noted for its scenic route and money-raising effort for the Center, enters hundreds of runners from many states and even other countries. Runners cover all age ranges, from kids to those over 65. The 2021 race had 100 runners over 65, so no excuses!

Over the past 18 years, the race has raised, through the nonprofit Jekyll Foundation, more than $100,000 for the Center to help it continue its efforts to conduct sea turtle research and rehabilitation and its mission to educate the public about these fascinating creatures. The Foundation is dedicated to keeping the natural beauty and history of Jekyll Island alive through historic preservation, education, and conservation efforts. The Jekyll Foundation also partners with the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA), which manages the Jekyll Island State Park, to fund the Park’s sponsored conservation and preservation projects.

The triathlon event features a swim, bike, and run race. Race routes trace the island’s shoreline and forests, making for a picturesque journey. Jekyll Island contains more than a thousand acres of maritime forest and ten miles of shoreline, so there are lots to see! 

The event consists of an International Distance Triathlon (1500-meter swim, 29-mile bike race, 10K run), a Sprint Distance Triathlon (600-meter swim, 14.5-mile bike race, 5K run), and a Sunday 5K/10K run. From elite athletes to weekend warriors are encouraged to enter into the specific race that matches their abilities.

Registration is required for the race and has been offered at multiple participation levels in the past. Participants can receive a medal and a race T-shirt or only a race T-shirt depending on the level. You can also choose to race for a cause! Separate donations can be made on the event’s website or the Jekyll Foundation website.

The fun does not end when the race ends, so be sure to attend the accompanying NestFest held near the race’s finish line. This free event (pay only $6 parking fee) features exhibits and education about the coast’s ecosystem so that you can learn more about not only sea turtles but other wild- and plant life on the island.

Past NestFests have seen the release of rehabilitated sea turtles, so you never know what you might experience when you attend this after-race event.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Your participation in the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Event will go toward helping an incredible local resource: The George Sea Turtle Center. Described as “the only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility” in Georgia, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened in 2007 and displays interactive exhibits for visitors as well as providing emergency care with state-of-the-art equipment to injured and sick sea turtles. Since its inception, the Center has cared for 3,000 sea turtle patients. The Center also educates the general public about sea turtle conservation as part of its mission.

Visitors can learn all about sea turtles for a small admission price through live and interactive exhibits. The Center hosts virtual field trips for schools, guided tours and discussions of rehabilitation efforts and programs for sea turtles, and special programs, such as Turtle Walks, a two-hour guided walk allowing participants to view sea turtle nests in the wild.

The Center is conveniently open Monday – Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The Center is located at 214 Stable Road, as a former power plant site, in the island’s Historic District.

Plan Your Trip!

Parker-Kaufman vacation rentals on Jekyll Island always put you near all the fun island festivities! Have the getaway of a lifetime and plan your trip today!

When is the Event?

The 2022 Turtle Crawl race is slated to be held on April 30th. In addition to a 5K and 10K run, this year’s race is also scheduled to include a fun run. The fun run is a one-mile run through the sand at Great Dunes Beach Park. It should be an excellent time for families with children of all ages.

Due to the Covid pandemic, the 2021 race was held virtually, and the format received many accolades. Not only did it reduce the costs of a live race and thus increase the donations to the Center, but many were also in favor of the accessibility and more casual approach to the event in the virtual format. It also raised a record-setting amount: nearly $25,000! The virtual category is referred to as the “ghost crawler” category.

For the 2022 Turtle Crawl race, a virtual option will again be in place even though a live event is also scheduled. The live Turtle Crawl will begin in the Beach Village. From there, you can choose to walk, run, or jog the oceanside 5K on the pedestrian path starting and ending near Corsair Beach Park or the forest 5K over a multi-surface route through the maritime forest.

triathlon running in jekyll island
photo from Shutterstock

Book Your Jekyll Island Vacation Rentals

From 3-bedroom cottages and one- to 3-bedroom villas and condos to Jekyll Island vacation homes, Parker-Kaufman has the accommodations you need for your next Jekyll Island stay.

No matter which type of rental suits you best, you can expect top features such as fully equipped kitchens with upscale appliances, oceanfront or ocean view properties, beach access, relaxing décor, and even a washer/dryer.

Depending on the size of the vacation home chosen, these rentals can comfortably sleep up to 14 guests and could offer features like screened porches, BBQ grills, gazebos, decks, patios, big backyards, and an open floor plan. Many homes have linens and sheets available and beach chairs and toys at no extra charge.

At one of our condos or villas, you might enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, gift shop, restaurant, bike rentals, and fire pit. Some rentals are pet friendly!

Some Jekyll Island rentals are even near the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, so if that and the race are of primary interest to you, be sure to secure one of these oceanfront or ocean view properties so you won’t have far to go when the fun begins.