Just off the warm shores of Georgia’s central coast lies a group of barrier islands off the coast of the historic port town of Brunswick called the Golden Isles.
Aside from the unseasonably warm weather enjoyed in this part of Georgia, the isles are renowned for their untouched stretches of marshland with pristine coastal habitats, abundant wildlife, and amazing beaches. Imagine enjoying a day enveloped in centuries-old oak trees draped with Spanish Moss, strolling along the surf, and exploring quaint coastal towns. From fishing and boating to biking, shopping, and historical sites, these isles offer visitors an incredible array of things to see and do.
With the historic sense of place and unbeatable Southern hospitality, it’s no wonder the Golden Isles continue to entertain and enthrall travelers year after year.
St. Simons Island – Marshes, Monuments and Markets
Probably the best known and certainly the largest of the Golden Isles, St. Simons features the Marshes of Glynn, famously mentioned by the poet Sydney Lanier. Beyond the marsh, revel at the majestic oak trees lining the streets of charming villages, eclectic shops, and beautiful historical sites.
Spend the day in historic locales such as St. Simons Lighthouse Museum, Fort Frederica National Monument, the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, and Christ Church Frederica. The lighthouse explores the history of Coastal Georgia via exhibits featuring artifacts and historical photographs, while Fort Frederica preserves the architectural remnants of an old fort town built in the 1700s. Christ Church is a great site to visit that invites those who seek spirituality and community inside a beautiful, historic church.
Cannon’s Point Preserve is home to 600 acres of green space for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure, perfect for hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The island also features a variety of biking trails that crisscross the island – an excellent way to see the sights solo.
Nature lovers can get their fix at Gould’s Inlet, the Marshes of Glynn, and East Beach. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy a taste of wildlife – the marshes are an excellent location for bird watching. After you’ve spent some time off the beaten path, head to East Beach for a swim in the gentle surf.
St. Simons is an excellent destination for families as well. The Pier Village Market on the main drag of Mallery Street is ideal for a leisurely afternoon of shopping. There’s also a variety of inviting cafes and restaurants – order one of the decadent crepes from St.Simons Crepes. Finally, take everyone to Neptune Park, located on the pier, for a rousing round of mini-golf.
Sea Island – Luxury Resorts and World-Class Golfing
Accessible from St. Simons Island via the causeway, Sea Island is where luxury and natural beauty come together in perfect harmony. Home to pristine marshes, resorts, and golf courses, the island offers a slice of paradise away from the hustle and bustle of St. Simons.
For travelers seeking adventure in the marshes, kayak and sailboat tours are available, and exploring the region by horseback. Be sure to check out the Salt Marsh Dolphin Tour at nearby Rainbow Island, where you’ll venture through tidal regions, see some playful dolphins, and learn about the area’s rich history.
Are you looking to relax and recharge? Check out the secluded five-star resort Cloister on Sea Island with excellent amenities such as a private beach, spa, tennis center, beach club, and delicious dining options such as River Bar and Lounge, a European-inspired eatery serving up roasted cornish hen and foie gras terrine.
Tee off in style at The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club. Considered a golfer’s haven, the club features world-class greens and three championship 18-hole courses. Golfing isn’t the only amazing activity to indulge in, however. Those in the know can relax on the beach courtesy of the Sea Island Beach Club, enjoy an exciting tennis match at the Tennis Center, or go boating at the Yacht Club.
And, of course, the island is a must-visit for shopaholics. Stop by The Market for made-to-order sandwiches and gourmet take-and-bake dishes such as meatloaf with all the fixings. At the Sea Island Shop, visitors can browse a variety of resort-style clothing, housewares, and jewelry.
Jekyll Island – Iconic Beaches and Historical Sites
While Jekyll Island isn’t as famous as St. Simons, this island shouldn’t be overlooked thanks to its 10 miles of spectacular coastline that’s home to the scenic Driftwood Beach. Aptly named, visitors can find a nice variety of driftwood. The atmosphere here is hauntingly beautiful, and going at sunset is strongly recommended for the ambiance alone. Bring your camera!
Another attraction not to be missed is the historic district, where you can see a selection of beautiful homes from the Gilded Age. This is where you’ll find the Jekyll Island Museum, which details the island’s history and the Indigenous Americans who inhabited it through interactive exhibits.
Seeking sun, sea and solitude? The Jekyll Island Club Resort is the place to be. Wander through manicured gardens, relax by the two swimming pools or head to the beach for a spectacular sunset.
History buffs should take a tour of the Horton House Ruins. Built in 1743 by Major Bill Horton, it is one of the oldest tabby structures in Georgia and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the remnants of the house as well as the DuBignon Family cemetery.
From the marshes of St. Simons to Jekyll Island’s mystical Driftwood Beach, the Golden Isles are coastal jewels that beckon to be explored. So whether you’re seeking a private getaway at Sea Island’s resort or a chance to immerse yourself in Georgia’s natural beauty and history, adventure awaits on these three unique islands.