Access to Sapelo Island
Visitors may access Sapelo Island as an official guest of a state agency or as the personal guest of an island resident. State facilities on Sapelo Island include units within the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (WRD, SINERR, State Parks & Lodges) and the University of Georgia Marine Institute. Island residents include employees of the Georgia DNR, the University of Georgia, and residents of the Hog Hammock Community.
Becoming an official guest of the Marine Institute
Requests from official university classes and researchers with a reasonable need for access to Sapelo Island for education or research are welcomed.
Classes: Generally any course associated with the natural sciences is acceptable, given space availability. We do request a paragraph stating how access to Sapelo Island uniquely meets the needs of the course and a brief course description for our records.
Researchers: We request that you send a research prospectus for our records. Please see the document, Memorandum, to be certain your research meets the guidelines for Sapelo Island and the National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Students: Requests for housing and space should originate in writing from the major professor.
RV Spartina: As of July 1, 2011, there will be a fee associated with use of the RV Spartina. RV Spartina usage is restricted to researchers and educational class groups. RV Spartina trips are now $200 and restricted to 10 passengers per Coast Guard regulations. If a group requires more than one RV Spartina trip, successive trips are $100 each.
Who do I contact to bring a class or do research at UGAMI?
(Download Printable PDF)
UGAMI visitors requiring access or housing should contact the main office at (912) 485–2125 or
If you would like to conduct research on Sapelo, Gracie will pass along your desires to
who will follow up with you. Mary manages boat reservations, collection permits and all
regulatory operating procedures, as well as access to various equipment, lab spaces and
supplies. Gracie and Mary will coordinate your needs with the DNR for ferry access and use.
The procedures to gain access to Sapelo and UGAMI will become easier! We will let you know as soon as the new system is in place.
What sorts of things should I know about visiting Sapelo and UGAMI?
(Download Printable PDF)
The DNR Sapelo Island ferry is operated under state and federal regulations. The captain has the last word regarding any and all freight and passengers. If you have questions, feel free to contact DNR at (912) 485- 2251.
- Ferry requests must be submitted to the DNR by UGAMI for all visitors to the island. When you contact UGAMI, this process will be taken care of for you. If you would like to bring a group of 10+ or will have extensive gear, a minimum of two weeks notice is required. For parties <10, 48 hours minimum notice.
- The round trip ferry fee is $2 per person for UGAMI users.
- At the Meridian dock, park in areas designated for visitors to the island. Parking near the ferry is reserved for residents of the island. You may drive your vehicle to the dock for loading and unloading.
- Gear space is limited. Beach/lawn chairs, bicycles, surf/paddle boards and giant coolers are prohibited. If you are unsure, please call ahead.
- UGAMI groups are limited. Maximum of 28 persons with gear, and maximum of 40 persons without gear (day trips).
- Please call UGAMI or DNR in advance if you plan to bring gas cylinders, toxic/dangerous chemicals or dewers of inert, liquid gases. These may have to be transported to UGAMI separately in certain instances.
- Gasoline, Coleman fuel, radioactive materials, open alcohol containers (consumables) and explosives (fireworks included) are not allowed on the ferry.
- Firearms are not allowed on the campus of UGAMI.
DNR Island Management
The State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources manages Sapelo Island. Law enforcement is provided by DNR in conjunction with the McIntosh County Sheriff’s office.
- Do not operate any vehicle while drinking, or with an open container of alcohol. This includes golf carts, trucks, cars, mules, etc. DNR Law Enforcement has the authority to prosecute offenders.
- Camping is restricted to sites near Cabretta beach and Hunt Camp. These are booked through DNR.
- Permits are required for certain activities on Sapelo. Mary Price at UGAMI can help you work with DNR on various permits that you may require.
- Building sampling platforms, boardwalks, etc.
- Vehicle usage on the beach. (Strongly discouraged to protect habitat)
- Specimen collection, trawling, etc.
- Hunting and fishing licenses are required.
Emergency medical help is provided by an all-volunteer First Responder group. If you have medical concerns, be aware that advanced lifesaving equipment and personnel are 1 - 2 hours from Sapelo and may be inaccessible in a timely manner in severe weather. You are ultimately responsible for your well being on Sapelo.
- Please let Gracie and Mary know about any medical concerns when you make contact.
- You will be given a card with the First Responder call list to keep with you.
- Signs with the First Responder call list are posted all around UGAMI and in housing.
- We do not keep a supply of anti-venom, insulin or epinephrine on the island.
Non Life-Threatening Emergencies
- Call the duty officer cell phone number listed on the back of the First Responder Card.
UGAMI operates it’s own drinking water wells and sewer systems. We are licensed and regulated by Georgia’s EPD and are mandated to minimize water consumption and waste production. There are growing concerns about saltwater intrusion in coastal zones, and recent restrictions and regulations have been enforced. Additionally, our water goes through septic tanks (solids removal), and remaining liquids are leached into underground fields, which ultimately reenter the groundwater. Please contact Mary Price with questions.
- PLEASE CONSERVE WATER!
- DO NOT POUR CHEMICALS DOWN THE DRAINS!
Please arrange for boats well ahead of time. We may need to prep a boat for you, and get it into the water.
- Reserve a boat well in advance. There is periodically heavy demand.
- Discuss operation, fees, and safety procedures with Mary Price.
As a UGA facility, we follow UGA guidelines. Violations may result in expulsion from Sapelo.
- No smoking in buildings.
- No tolerance of drugs or alcohol in the workplace.
- No tolerances of firearms discharge on UGAMI lease property.
Please use common sense for personal alcohol consumption in off hours in residential areas. Do not use a vehicle.
Research Equipment & Supplies
UGAMI has some research equipment and supplies available for your research.
- Please contact Mary Price with all questions and let her know your needs.
- Centrifuges, microscopes and basic equipment are available. Please reserve ahead of time.
- Rotors for the high-speed centrifuge must be checked out.
Please help us keep your fees low by conserving energy. Our greatest expense is electricity, mostly for heating and air. Please set the temperature at 68°F in winter and between 77° - 82°F in summer, and please do not let doors or windows stand open while the air is running. It helps us greatly, and helps the planet. Thank you!