Discover the Golden Isles: St. Simons & Sea Island

Four 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.

St. Simons Island

In 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to protect his southern boundary. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to protect his southern boundary. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The largest of The Golden Isles, St. Simons Island continues to reveal the remarkable beauty and fascinating history of what 16th-century Spanish explorers called San Simeon.

Visitors come year round to swim, stroll, and sail along its miles of lovely beaches, to challenge its 99 holes of superb golf and numerous tennis courts, and to explore its countless shops and restaurants.

St. Simons Island lies across the immortalized Marshes of Glynn, made famous by English poet Sidney Lanier. Moss-draped oaks line the winding island streets, creating a picture-perfect image worthy of a William Faulkner novel.

The island’s villages offer a charming and unique selection of shops, plus a variety of restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual outdoor fare. Visitors and residents alike enjoy outdoor recreation at Neptune Park and its Fun Zone, which includes a public pool, miniature golf, and a fishing pier.

As we discovered during a recent visit, St. Simons Island is dotted with historic sites and attractions, from the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum—a working lighthouse built in 1872—to the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, where, in July 1742, British and Scottish soldiers protecting colonial Georgia defeated a larger Spanish force in a battle that helped end Spanish incursions north of Florida.

44 men and 72 women and children arrived to build the fort and town, and by the 1740s Frederica was a thriving village of about 500 citizens. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

44 men and 72 women and children arrived to build the fort and town, and by the 1740s Frederica was a thriving village of about 500 citizens. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Frederica National Monument, which preserves archaeological remnants of the local British colony and its defense against Spain, and historic Christ Church, Frederica—one of the oldest churches in Georgia, with worship held continuously since 1736—are located on the island’s north end.  Fort Frederica, Georgia’s first military outpost, was established by British General James Oglethorpe. A visitors center and museum are also located on the site.

Live oaks, the same trees that overshadow Frederica Road, were milled for use in Revolutionary warships, including Old Ironsides, also known as the USS Constitution. Because the trunks and branches of this tree naturally bend, they were perfect for forming the hulls of boats.

Toward the southern tip, the Maritime Center, in the restored U.S. Coast Guard Station, provides fascinating glimpses of the area’s natural evolution, while highlighting some of its maritime and military history.

Year round warm weather in the Golden Isles allow

Moss-draped oaks create a picture-perfect image worthy of a Faulkner tale. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moss-draped oaks create a picture-perfect image worthy of a Faulkner tale. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

s visitors to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, biking, golfing, or relaxing on East Beach.

Visitors can tour the island’s historic sites on a variety of transportation options.

Sea Island

Reached by causeway from St. Simons Island, Sea Island is an internationally acclaimed resort. The Sea Island Company features two of the world’s most-exceptional destinations: the Forbes Five-Star Cloisture on Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond property located on the southern end of St. Simons Island.

Though much of Sea Island is residential, Island life centers around The Cloister, perennially honored as one of the world’s great hotels. Golf club, beach club, gun club, horseback riding, fine dining, and numerous other activities are among the amenities enjoyed by its guests.

Guests of Sea Island who enjoy the game of golf can appreciate the Golf Learning Center and three championship golf courses at Sea Island Golf Club.

The Seaside Course, home to the PGA TOUR’s McGladrey Classic, is a links course graced by majestic ocean vistas in the tradition of St. Andrews.

The Plantation Course winds enticingly through marsh and forest, while the Retreat Course offers a uniquely dramatic and challenging design cultivated by Davis Love III and Mark Love.

If golfing is not your game, enjoy the Sea Island Beach Club, Tennis Center, Yacht Club, Shooting School, and Forbes Five-Star Cloister Spa.

Sea Island offers cuisine to satisfy any taste with seven exceptional dining venues, including the renowned Forbes Five-Star Georgian Room, which offers “Refined Southern” cuisine amidst grand décor. The Georgian Room is open to the public with reservation required.

Did You Know?

Eugenia Price’s trilogy LighthouseNew Moon Rising, and Beloved Invader chronicle the history of St. Simons Island and Christ Church.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia

Part 1: Discover the Golden Isles: Rich in History & Beauty

Part 3: Discover the Golden Isles: Jekyll Island

Part 4: Discover the Golden Isles: Little St. Simons Island & Historic Brunswick

Part 5: RV Camping in Brunswick and the Golden Isles

Worth Pondering…

The Marshes of Glynn

By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.

Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band

Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.

Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach-lines linger and curl

As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows the firm sweet limbs of a girl.

Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight,

Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of light.

—Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)

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