Georgia’s Golden Isles: A Tour of Jekyll Island
On the southeastern Georgia coast and off the mainland of the city of Brunswick lie the beautiful barrier islands of St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Sea Island, known collectively as the Golden Isles. These heritage-rich and scenic islands were named for the autumnal colour of their vast marshes.
The southernmost of these islands is Jekyll Island, and it’s where I spent a good bit of my holiday exploring its landmarks and history. From the luxurious and historic resort, to its stunning natural beauty, Jekyll Island was an absolute delight.
The Luxurious History of the Jekyll Island Club
I began my visit at the lavish Jekyll Island Club Hotel. This historic complex with its corresponding Club Hotel was once the winter retreat for the rich of the North and had members like William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan.
Surrounding the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, you’ll find a 240-acre National Historic Landmark District that is absolutely charming. Visit the Jekyll Island Museum (no entrance fee), take a guided tram tour or even hop aboard a romantic horse-drawn carriage tour. Included is a tour of two of the beautifully restored cottages where you can experience what life was like for the residents who once lived there.
The hotel itself offers luxury along with great activities for the whole family. There are spectacular grounds to stroll, a swimming pool, tournament-level croquet, bicycles, a private beach pavilion and even an afternoon tea to enjoy.
Beautiful Driftwood Beach
While on Jekyll Island, don’t miss a trip to Driftwood Beach on the island’s north end. This spectacular driftwood landscape resembles a tree graveyard, a surreal spot unlike anything you’ve ever seen and an extraordinary site to take photos. Take a long walk along the beautiful beach and, if you’re with children, explore the gnarled roots and branches. I highly recommend visiting at either sunrise or sunset – especially if you want perfect photos and a romantic seaside outing.
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
One more stop on Jekyll Island that I loved was the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. After paying my admission fee (which goes toward supporting the centre and sea turtle rehabilitation), I was presented with amazing information about sea turtles. Unlike a typical aquarium, the Sea Turtle Center is all about protecting and saving sea turtles, and educating the public about the behaviours and habitats of these important creatures. Our tour guide was so informative and the enthusiasm was infectious. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see veterinarians caring for the turtles.
The Golden Isles is truly a destination of unsurpassed beauty with warm people and charming attractions. You will love the classic and genteel atmosphere and will want to return again and again.