There are some places that are so special that it’s hard to tell you about them. Little St Simons Island, a secluded nature lover’s paradise in Georgia’s Golden Isles, is one of them.
This 10,000 acre island, accessible only by boat, was initially purchased by a pencil company for its abundant stands of cedar but thankfully for us the trees were too crooked to be harvested. The CEO of the company, Philip Berolzheimer, fell in love with the natural beauty of Little St Simons and bought the island in the 1920s as a sporting playground for his friends, all prominent New Yorkers and christened the ‘Bandits’. While the fallow deer they introduced are now seen through a pair of binoculars rather than a rifle scope, the atmosphere is still very much one of an intimate getaway among old friends.
With only 32 guests at any one time and free rein of the island, it is a supremely peaceful and private getaway. The trails and paths that wind through the island are covered by a dense canopy of moss-draped live oak. On the low ground, marine forests give way to tidal creeks, saltmarsh and miles of deserted beaches. This rich and varied environment is home to a startling variety of wildlife. The island is a bird lover’s paradise, with over 280 species recorded on the island. In the summer, its sandy beaches are a prime nesting ground for loggerhead turtles.
The activity program is both exceptional and relaxed. Morning and afternoon, the island’s guides will run a variety of adventures including birding, kayaking and fishing. Evening excursions may include a late night owl prowl or a trip to the beach to watch the unforgettable sight of a loggerhead turtle laying her eggs. All of the guides are trained biologists and provide fascinating insights into the island’s inhabitants. Did you know that an armadillo always give birth to four genetically identical offspring of the same sex? Guests are just as welcome to take a bike or their own skiff and explore the island under their own steam.
Rooms are in several different pretty buildings within walking distance of the main lodge. All are rustic, very comfortable and full of character. Screened porches are the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine in the warmer months and log fires are there for the cooler seasons.
Two larger lodges, with four rooms in each, are nestled in the oak trees on the edge of the creek. Their verandas have spectacular views looking out over the the golden marsh. Two smaller secluded cottages are perfect for couples and families.
Need to Know
The original hunting lodge, built in 1917, is at the heart of island life and three meals a day are served family style in the dining room. Expect delicious local fare, much of which comes from the island’s organic gardens. Every evening before dinner guests gather in the lodge for cocktails.