Paddle Georgia 2021

Sapelo Island Adventure

Sapelo Island Adventure



Paddle Georgia Sapelo Island Adventure is a two-day, two night exploration of one of Georgia’s most storied barrier islands. Participants will camp for two nights on the island (or stay in special indoor accommodations) and choose from a variety of activities each day, including kayaking, bicycling and hiking. Catered meals and a guided Sapelo Island tour, and evening education programs are included. 

Dates: Nov. 5-7, 2021 Participants will take the 3:30 p.m. ferry to the island on Friday, Nov. 5, and return to the mainland Sunday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m.

Registration Fees:  $375 for Cabretta Tent Camping which includes campsite, six catered meals, educational programs, ferry service to and from the island, and event t-shirt or other swag of your choice or $305 Cottage Occupancy which includes six catered meals, educational programs, ferry service to and from the island, and event t-shirt or other swag of your choice. (Rooms in the island cottages are purchased separately during the registration process) PLEASE NOTE: Rooms in Cottages require double occupancy (2 registered participants) and all rooms, with the exception of one, have one shared bed (see sizes below). 



On Friday, Nov. 5, participants will take the 3:30 p.m. ferry through marsh and open water from Meridian to Marsh Landing Dock on Sapelo Island. Following the 30-minute ferry ride, shuttle vehicles will carry campers to Cabretta Island campsite and cottage dwellers to their assigned indoor accommodations. There will be some time for light exploration before our opening night dinner and program.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, you can explore Sapelo on your own schedule hiking or bicycling or register for one of two guided kayak excursions. The day of exploration will be followed with a catered dinner by local chef Sharron Grovner.

On Sunday, Nov. 7, we will enjoy a four-hour guided tour of the island in which you will learn about the island’s 4,000 years of cultural history and the unique coastal, barrier island ecosytem of Georgia’s coast. We will return to the mainland on the 4 p.m. ferry. 

Information for Registered Participants

American Canoe Association Liability Waivers

Very important! You must sign your American Canoe Association liability waiver in order to participate in this adventure. Please click on the link below, fill out the online form and submit it. Once you’ve done that you will receive an e-mail. You must respond to that e-mail to complete the waiver submission!





Check-In Times: 

NOV. 5 2:30-3:00 p.m.

All participants must check in at the Sapelo Island Visitors Center during the time listed above. Please unload your gear at the dock by the Visitors Center, park your vehicle and then proceed to our Georgia River Network mandatory check in. We will depart for the island on the 3:30 p.m. ferry. Upon check-in, you will receive your event packet that includes items like your Paddle Georgia 2021 t-shirt or other swag of your choice, Paddle Georgia 2021 decal and other information you need for your Sapelo Island adventure. PLEASE ARRIVE ON TIME. IF YOU MISS THE FERRY, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS THE ISLAND UNTIL THE FOLLOWING DAY.

Directions to Sapelo Island Visitors Center, 1766 Landing Road Southeast, Darien, GA 

GPS Coordinates: 30.782820, -82.443900

Directions from I-95 Southbound: From Exit 58, travel east on Ga. 99/Ga. 57 for 9.2 miles. Turn left on to Landing Road and proceed 0.5 mile. Turn right on Sapelo Dock Road and proceed 0.4 mile to dock.

Google Map:



Our Sapelo Island home for the weekend is the Cabretta Pioneer Campground, situated within a maritime forest in close proximity to the island shore. The campground features three Adirondack-style, three-sided and screened shelters with picnic areas and fire rings. The comfort station includes hot showers, flush toilets, outdoor dishwashing station. There is also a group shelter with picnic tables and electricity.

If camping is not for you this weekend, you can choose to reserve a room in one of two island cottages that Georgia River Network has reserved for the weekend. IMPORTANT: Rooms require double occupancy (2 registered participants) and all rooms, with the exception of one, have one shared bed (see sizes below). 

The Oyster Bed includes four rooms with private baths–one king-size bed and three queen-sized beds–along with kitchen, outdoor grill, complimentary vehicle and more. Each room is available for $260 for the weekend.

The Sunshine Cottage is a three-bedroom cottage with kitchen, den/dining area and small porch. The queen-size bed and private bath is available for $300 for the weekend; the full-sized bed and shared bath is $230 for the weekend and the bunk bed room (sleeps two) with shared bath is $230 for the weekend.

You may reserve these rooms during registration. They are available on a first-to-register, first-serve basis.


With your registration you receive six catered meals: dinner on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, and breakfasts and lunches on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. Meals will be provided by local chefs, Mary Bailey and Sharron Grovner. Dinners will be paired with Molson-Coors and Terrapin Beer Co. products (teas and water will also be available).  Vegetarian/vegan options will be provided.

If you wish to bring your own dishes and eating utensils, a dishwashing station will be provided. We encourage you to do this to help reduce waste associated with serving the meals.  

Lunches: Sack lunches come with your choice of sandwiches with chips, fruit and dessert. You will pick up your sack lunch AT THE CAMPSITE following breakfast each morning. 


Saturday Nov. 6

Spicy mushroom casserole, scrambled eggs, cheesy grits, bacon, fresh fruit, buttermilk biscuits, hot coffee and tea, juices.

Sunday Nov. 7

Garden spinach casserole, scrambled eggs, herbal has browns, sausage, fresh fruit, assorted pastries, hot coffee and tea, juices.


Friday Nov. 5

Sapelo low country boil with two sides (TBD), dessert, teas, lemonade.

Saturday Nov. 6

Barbecue pork and Hog Hammock roasted oysters with two sides (TBD), dessert, teas, lemonade.


Participants must arrive Friday, Nov. 5, at the Sapelo Island Visitors Center between 2:30-3:00 P.M. to register and prepare to load the 3:30 a.m. ferry to the island. This is the only way to arrive on the island! Please be on time! The ferry ride to the island dock takes approximately 30 minutes.

Participants will return from the island on the 4 p.m. ferry to the mainland on Sunday, Nov. 7.


Participants can choose from a variety of activities and make their own adventure during the weekend stay. Sapelo Island is 12 miles long. The Georgia coast’s fourth largest island, it is home to miles of undeveloped beaches and sand dunes, extensive maritime forest and awe-inspiring marshes. An 80-foot high lighthouse is also a destination as is Hog Hammock, the tiny island community and only private property on the state-owned island, that features a general store, snack bar and small shop.

KAYAKING Saturday, Nov. 6: Southeast Adventures will host two kayak tours of the waters surrounding Sapelo Island. The first tour runs from 9 a.m. to Noon and a second leaves runs from 1-4 p.m.  The 3-4 mile round trip guided scenic paddle from Sapelo Island to Blackbeard Island runs along Blackbeard Creek, a protected marsh creek between these islands.  Participants will have the opportunity to get out of their kayaks and explore Blackbeard Island, a beautiful National Wildlife Refuge that has been federally owned for over 200 years. You must reserve a kayak from Southeast Adventures to participate in this tour. You cannot bring your own boat on the ferry! $60 fee includes kayak rental and guide services. CLICK HERE TO RESERVE A SPOT ON ONE OF THE TOURS

BICYCLING Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6-7: Rental bicycles are from Marvin Grovner for exploration of the island. To reserve a bike for $15 per day, contact Marvin at 912-485-2135.

SAPELO ISLAND GUIDED TOUR  SUNDAY Nov. 7: This special private bus tour of Sapelo Island will be led by Sapelo Island docent J.R. Grovner.  The tour will cover a combination of Sapelo’s history going back more than 4000 years (Guale, French, English and Geeche) and the unique coastal ecosystem that define modern ecology. The tour will be approx. 4-4.5 hours. 

HIKING Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6-7: Take a jaunt on the beach, explore the island’s beautiful maritime forest tucked behind the beach’s sand dunes or take a hike to the island lighthouse. The island awaits!

Daily Itinerary

Friday, Nov. 5

Registration: 2:30-3 p.m.

Ferry to Island: 3:30 p.m.

Dinner/Announcements: 6:00 p.m.

Lights Out: 10 p.m.


Saturday, Nov. 6

Breakfast: 7 a.m.

Southeast Adventure Kayak Tour: 9 a.m. to Noon

Southeast Adventure Kayak Tour: 1-4 p.m.

Bicycling/Hiking/Beachcombing On Your Own: 8 to whenever!

Dinner/Announcements: 6:00

Lights Out: 10 p.m.


Sunday, Nov. 7

Breakfast 7 a.m.

Pack Up Gear: 7-9 a.m.

Sapelo Island Tour: 9 a.m.-Noon (leaves from campground)

Bicycling/Hiking/Beachcombing On Your Own: 8 to 3 p.m.

Ferry to Mainland: 4 p.m.



Paddle Georgia Policies

  1. Sorry, no pets allowed.
  2. All participants must sign a Medical and Emergency Contact Information sheet and a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for children under the age of 18.
  3. All participants must respect private property along the river.
  4. All participants opting to paddle must possess basic paddling skills and be capable of self-rescue in the water.
  5. Georgia River Network is not responsible for any personal property that may be lost, damaged, or stolen during the trip.

Code of Conduct

At Georgia River Network, we like to think of our adventure participants as our “river family.” We come from many different backgrounds, but the river is the great equalizer and our common bond. We want all participants to treat one another as family.


  • Be respectful of all participants, including their property, their person and their personal views. On our adventures you will paddle, eat and camp with people that are very different from you. Please respect and celebrate those differences.
  • Be helpful. If you see someone that needs a hand in camp, please lend yours.
  • Be courteous. Be prepared to wait in lines for restrooms, shuttle buses, meals and more.


  • Use inappropriate language. This is a family event with participants of all ages.
  • Verbally or physically intimidate or abuse other participants.
  • Become intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
  • Violate quiet hours by engaging in loud talk and disruptive behavior between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Violations of these policies and our code of conduct can result in the participant being removed from the event without refund.

For Parents and Guardians of Children

Parents and guardians are responsible for the welfare and safety of their minor participants at all times. Understand that while Georgia River Network’s adventure trips almost without exception attract uncommonly good and kind people, Georgia River Network does not screen participants or conduct background checks on participants.

Refund Policy

Any registration cancellations made by October 22 will incur a 10% processing fee. After October 22, no refunds will be granted. If you have questions or need assistance, call our office at 706-549-4508

What Should I Bring?

Participants camping at Cabretta Pioneer Campground must bring standard camping gear including a tent and personal items. Please do not bring cooking appliances/ food (other than snacks) unless you have special food preferences/ needs and have received special permission from GRN as space is limited for gear on the ferry.

Please note that gear space on the ferry is limited. Beach/lawn chairs, bicycles, surf/paddle boards and giant coolers are prohibited. 

Here’s a checklist of essential items: First Aid Kit; Sunscreen; Necessary Medication; Water Bottles (at least 3 quart bottles for each person); Flexible mindset; Tent or other shelter, sleeping bag or sleep sack and sleeping pad (if you are camping); Clothing for weekend; Proper footwear for river and land; Rain gear.

Here’s a checklist of suggested optional items: Labels with your luggage and other personal belongings; Ground Cloth; Reusable Plate/Utensils (wash stations provided); Waterproof Stuff Sacks for Camp Gear; Waterproof stuff sack or case for lunch and other items (like dry clothing); Clothes/Swimsuit; Money to tip the caterers; Insect Repellent; Towel/Wash Cloth; Soap, Toothpaste, Toiletries; Flashlight/Head Lamp; Book; Camera; Fishing Gear/License; Duct Tape; Hat or Cap (don’t forget to get your Paddle Georgia hats!); Bug netting; Extra Length of Rope; Ear Plugs (Some of our paddlers snore!); Sleep Shades (Lights out at 10 p.m.); Laptop & Electronic Communication Devices (optional and frowned upon!); Water Guns/Cannon (optional and encouraged!);  Lightweight long sleeved pants or shirts for bug protection in the evening; Layered non-cotton clothing.

Participants choosing to attend the 5 hour Guided Paddle on Saturday, should bring:

  1. First Aid Kit—while our guides will have first aid kits on hand, it’s always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit stored inside a waterproof bag or container.
  2. Rain Gear—Be prepared to get wet. Every participant should have access to a lightweight rain jacket and rain pants in a waterproof bag or container.
  3. Appropriate footwear that will protect your feet from unseen underwater hazards and permit you to walk comfortably on land.
  4. Sunscreen—Sunburn might be the trip’s biggest hazard.
  5. Water Bottle  — Bring sufficient water for a 5 hour journey.
  6. Dry Bag or Ziploc—Bring a waterproof bag to protect items you don’t want to get wet, including your lunch.

Paddle Georgia Safety Procedures

Paddle Georgia participants should be aware that this trip is not a commercially-guided trip. While Georgia River Network and Paddle Georgia staff will be available on the river during each day’s activties and participants with medical and/or First Aid training will be identified, we cannot personally ensure the safety of all participants. Unlike a commercial trip in which paid guides direct you through each bend of the river, Paddle Georgia is designed to be your adventure, and as such, you are responsible for your own safety. All participants are assuming risks (some of which are outlined below) while participating in Paddle Georgia.

For a reminder of basic paddling safety practices, watch this American Canoe Association Video.

Weather: Average High Temperature: 86 F; Average Low Temperature: 68 F. Average September Rainfall: 5.6 inches


Strainers—Strainers are branches, trees, vegetation or other partially or totally submerged obstacles in the river’s current often found along the river’s edge. These hazards allow only water to pass through freely. The current will pull anything else down, plastering it into place, similar to the action of a kitchen colander. It is best to approach submerged trees or logs along the river bank from the downstream side to avoid having the current pin your boat against the obstacle or flipped by the force of the water. You should also avoid grabbing on to low hanging branches of partially submerged vegetation as this action can often cause your boat to capsize. To avoid a multi-boat pile up, leave enough room between boats to allow each boat to safely navigate around these obstacles.

Weather—Strong thunderstorms and high winds are not uncommon. In the event of inclement weather that includes the risk of lightning, paddle to shore, secure your boat and find cover under a dense stand of small trees. Avoid open areas, especially open areas with solitary trees, and avoid gathering in large groups. By dispersing yourselves over a large area, you reduce the risk of lightning striking numerous individuals at one time. Squatting, with your feet on a personal flotation device or seat cushion, is a good idea when in the midst of a thunderstorm (while on solid ground—not in your boat!).

Sun and Heat—Hats and appropriate sun screen are recommended. If you get too hot, the river comes with built in air conditioning – get in and cool off. You should carry at least three quarts of water each day to avoid dehydration. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also recommended. The first two days are usually the most difficult as we acclimate from spending lots of time in air-conditioned buildings to spending all day in 80-90-degree heat. Prepare by drinking lots of fluids in the days leading up to the trip.

Water Temperature—The combination of cold water and a cold afternoon thunderstorm raises the risk of dangerous changes in body temperature. Be prepared with rain gear and layered clothing that stays warm even when wet (avoid cotton).

Water Quality – Due to a variety of conditions, water quality can vary and organisms that cause illness may be present. Swimming and submersion in the water increase the risk of contracting water-borne illnesses. Ingesting river water should be avoided and cuts and sores should be kept out of the water and treated if exposed.

Trash—Unfortunately, Georgia’s waterways collect refuse from surrounding communities. Proper footwear and exercising caution can prevent unnecessary injuries. Participants should wear sandals or shoes that provide adequate protection from broken bottles, rusted appliance parts and tin cans and anything else you might find at your local landfill.

Venomous Snakes—The land surrounding our paddle routes is potential habitat for three venomous snakes—rattlesnakes, water moccasins and coral snakes. If you encounter any snakes, simply leave them alone. Should you have the misfortune of being bitten, remain calm and get medical assistance as quickly as possible. Bites from these venomous snakes are rarely fatal, given proper medical attention. At any given moment on this trip you will not be more than a few hours from a hospital.

Terra Firma—Please step carefully when paying visits to land. And, remember, the Okefenokee is the “land of the trembling earth!” What looks like solid ground might sink when you put your weight on it! 

Your Fellow Paddlers—This is a journey involving many individuals with varying degrees of skill level. Space yourselves so that you do not interfere with one another when maneuvering around obstacles. Pileups on the river can be just as dangerous as those that occur on interstate highways.

Paddle Georgia “Buddy System”-  Participants opting for the Guided Paddling Trip option

We will rely on the “Buddy System” to ensure that all participants arrive safely at the day’s take-out point. Before Saturday’s paddle, identify your “buddy boat or boats.” This will be the boat or group of boats with whom you will paddle for the day. The group is responsible for ensuring that if someone needs help on the river that someone is nearby to provide help and that no one is left behind. Do not lose sight of your buddy boat or members of your buddy boat group. Participants who have not identified a buddy boat for the day’s paddle will not be permitted to launch from the day’s put-in point. A sweep boat will bring up the rear of the day’s paddle to further ensure that no one is left behind

Other Considerations

What do I do if I capsize? On slow moving water, stay with your boat and swim it to shore or shallow water where you can dump the water and right your vessel. It floats even when full with water and can support you if you become tired. Make sure your belongings are secured to your boat to keep from losing them in the event of a capsize. Your fellow buddy boaters can assist in recovering any belongings and help you right your boat.In fast-moving water or rapids, get away and upstream from your boat until you reach slower moving water. Float on your back.  Don’t try to stand in fast-moving water.  Rocks or other objects can trap your feet and the force of the water can hold you under. Moving canoes filled with water can pin or crush paddlers against rocks or trees.

In the event of inclement weather…As noted above, thunderstorms are not uncommon, however, usually these afternoon-variety showers do not last long. If you are on the river during a storm event, take appropriate cover as described above, wait out the storm and continue your journey when it appears safe. Protective facilities along the river for large groups are not available.

We will make every effort to ensure that each day’s programs are completed in full. However, if all-day dangerous weather is predicted, the days programs will be cancelled for the day.



Paddle Georgia 2021

a project of
Georgia River Network

Paddle Georgia 2021
Georgia River Network

126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) |