Yes, There are Islands in Georgia. Here are the Five You Need to Visit Now.
I grew up in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Yes, there are islands in Georgia, quite a few actually. Our little piece of paradise flew under the radar throughout most of my childhood but is much more familiar these days now thanks to press for a certain five diamond resort. Whether you've heard of Georgia’s sea islands or not, let's go island hopping.
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Five Islands to Visit in Georgia
The southern most Island on my list, Cumberland is a National Seashore and a true treasure. Famous in recent history for the wedding of JFK Junior and Carolyn Bessette, it was once the playground of the Carnegie family. The largely undeveloped island is home to wild horses, massive sand dunes, and stretches of beach begging to be explored. Cumberland Island is just ferry ride away from the hustle of the resorts in the Golden Isles, and a must for those wanting to really un-plug on their vacation. The one hotel on the island, the Greyfield Inn, was built in 1900 for Lucy Carnegie's daughter and was converted to an inn in the 1960s. Greyfield is an all inclusive island elegant escape complete with guided tours, kayaks, bikes, gourmet meals, and more. A weekend at the Greyfield is still on my bucket list. Read more...
First African Baptist Church
Like Cumberland, Jekyll Island was made famous in the late nineteenth century as well. Powerful families from New England made their winter home on Jekyll for years and the historic hotel is still in use. Today, at least 65% of the island is undeveloped and owned by the state of Georgia making it a unique place to visit and experience untouched coastline. Even if you're not staying on the island, it makes a great day trip from St. Simons or Sea Island.
Driftwood Beach (pictured above)
National Historic Landmark District
St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island is where I grew up and the most developed of the five islands. If you want a good mix of food, nightlife, and relaxation then this is place to go. You can rent a bike and cruise the miles of bike paths, eat and drink til your heart and stomach are content, and chill on the beach. Below are a few of some can’t miss things in St. Simons but check out my ultimate first timer’s guide to St. Simons Island for all the information you need to plan a trip.
Avenue of the Oaks
Cannon's Point Nature Preserve
Hamilton Plantation Ruins
St. Simons Island Lighthouse
Bubba Garcias & Bubba's Up - Tex Mex cantina and bar (spicy pork tacos!)
Nancy - high end fashion + farm to table cuisine
Cafe Frederica - casual breakfast joint with massive cinnamon rolls
Southern Soul - Voted best BBQ in Georgia. Love the Brunswick Stew but their Smoked Chicken Salad is my fav.
Murphy's Tavern - dive bar in The Village with pool tables and dart boards
CJ's Pizza - the pizza institution on the Island. Teeny tiny place, get the deep dish.
Two Friends - Home and fashion boutique
Shackleford Shoes - Best shoe selection on the island! Great accessories too.
Tibi Outlet - Contemporary women's wear at major discount
Where to Stay
King & Prince Resort - The only SSI hotel that sits on the beach.
The Fig House - Gorgeous mid-mod house with a pool; great for groups or a family.
The Inn at Sea Island - Want to stay near Sea Island without the big price tag? Then this is your spot.
Village Inn & Pub - 1930s beach house turned quaint inn in the heart of the Village with courtyard pool and pub.
Home of the lavish Sea Island Resort, Sea Island is the place to spoil yourself while on your vacation. The hotel is beautiful and the service is impeccable. Here you'll find a members only beach club, award-winning spa, restaurants, and activities galore.
The Spanish Lounge
Drinks at The River Bar
Massage at The Spa
Beach stroll past the jetty
This is my favorite out of the five. Just north of Darien, Georgia, Sapelo Island is part nature preserve and part historic district with a virtually untouched landscape. There are only a handful of places to stay on the island and all are vacation rentals. We’ve stayed in this Sapleo Retreat many times with local realtor Lucy Lea. It’s got enough room for 4 people but you can do 6 if you squeeze and comes with a vehicle to use. There are a number of new construction vacation rentals like this one that sleeps 2. The Reynolds Mansion is also available for rent but you have to rent the entire property at once; 16 adults are the minimum. I think it'd be perfect for a group of couples or a great headquarters for a family reunion.
There are two huge beaches to explore, plantation ruins to see, and hours of relaxing to be had. The island is a lot bigger than you'd think so if you rent a place to stay make sure if has bikes or a car available to use. Sightseeing tours are available through Tour Sapelo. If you're interested in kayaking you can organize a multi-day trip through Southeast Adventures and experience the best of Sapelo by kayak and venture to neighboring Blackbeard Island. *Note: You can only reach Sapelo by ferry; click here for the ferry schedule.
Chocolate Plantation ruins
Cabretta Beach (Camping available)
This is just a taste of what each of these islands has to offer so be on the lookout for guides to each one of these islands in the future. Have you traveled to the Golden Isles? If you have, let me know in the comments below!
* Photos for Jekyll, St. Simons, Sea Island, and Sapelo were provided by Ryan Hines.