Georgia’s Atlantic Coastline is only about 100 miles long, but along this green corridor you’ll see some of America’s most breathtaking natural landscapes.
This is a region woven with many cultures, notably the coastal Gullah with origins in West Africa. Their traditions include making sweetgrass baskets, quilting, and knitting fishing nets.
Folklore, stories, and songs have also been handed down over the years.
Traditional recipes include seafood dishes and Low Country favorites such as hoppin’ john (brown fried peas cooked with rice; eaten for good luck), sweet potato pie, and benne wafers (cookie made with sesame seeds and eaten for good luck).
Nestled on the Georgia coast, midway between Savannah (Georgia) and Jacksonville (Florida) lies the mainland city of Brunswick and a series of barrier islands.
The most visited of the barrier islands are Sapelo, Jekyll, Cumberland, and St. Simons. Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island are very exclusive. Little St. Simons, Sapelo, and Cumberland must be reached by boat, while St. Simons, Sea Island, and Jekyll have causeways connecting them to the mainland.
St. Simons and Jekyll islands straddle the Marshes of Glynn, made familiar by Sidney Lanier’s poem of the same name.
The 6-mile causeway that leads to Jekyll is flanked by tidal marshes, home to waterfowl and migrating birds.
Four of the beautiful isles—St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll, and Sea—and a nearby coastal town are known collectively as Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia.
These coastal isles have long served as refuges for wildlife, havens for millionaires, and bastions of history.
Voodoo, alligators, wild horses, African culture, and the wealthiest families in the United States are all part of the history of the Golden Isles.
They’re also still a part of the islands’ modern-day heritage. At dawn, the mist rises on the marshes that skirt the coast of Georgia.
The state has only 100 miles of coastline, but nearly 800 miles of shoreline. Seventeen barrier islands are in this complex.
Spanish explorers seeking gold originally descended upon the territory more than 400 years ago, only to find astonishing beauty, mild weather, and a natural radiance that inspired the area’s name, the Golden Isles.
Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands known as hammocks, define the breathtaking landscape and create the appearance of a continuous stretch of land reaching out to the barrier islands. These vast marshes turn a beautiful golden color in the fall, especially dramatic when lit by the setting sun.
Sparkling rivers teeming with birds, fish, and other marine life flow calmly around the islands on their way to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Golden Isles are also heralded as a destination where the gentleman’s game of golf meets Southern hospitality in a seaside setting with a rich and storied history. The area’s beauty and world-class golf courses, facilities, and instructors have earned the Golden Isles its reputation as a golfer’s paradise.
Jekyll Island alone boasts four public courses situated along and through a state park—the 18-hole Pine Lakes, Oleander, and Indian Mound courses and 9-hole Great Dunes. Joining the Seaside Course at Sea Island are two other full-length tracks, the Plantation and the Retreat, while Heritage Oaks in Brunswick is known for its conditioning.
Not only do the Golden Isles provide a rich golf experience, but they also come alive as nature’s playground with acres of undeveloped land, marshes, and rivers along with the vast expanse of ocean.
Did You Know?
Robert E. Lee ordered residents to evacuate the Georgia coast in 1861 at the beginning of the War Between the States.
Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia
The Marshes of Glynn
Glooms of the live-oaks, beautiful-braided and woven
With intricate shades of the vines that myriad-cloven
Clamber the forks of the multiform boughs,
Virginal shy lights,
The wide sea-marshes of Glynn.
—Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)