By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher ©2016
(Part 2 in a Series)
Our memorable stay at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort was definitely too short. Venturing north on the beach, we spotted a tempting sandbar that at low tide looked inviting. From our balcony, we could see fishermen testing their skills at the sandbar’s very tip while numerous beachcombers walked about. Though the ocean waves beckoned, we opted not to dive into the chill during our early March visit. Sure, the pool was heated, but we never seemed to find the time because there’s so much to do on the island.
After chasing down the sunset immediately after our arrival, which you read about in Part 1 of this series, for our one full day of island discovery, we opted to pick up a couple of beach bikes from Ocean Motion Surf Company located on Ocean Boulevard, the island’s main drag. Then we hit the streets – well, sidewalks – for most of the way, heading to the lighthouse.
The beach cruisers were a great choice, giving us a sensual feel for the area, with the smell of flowers just beginning to bloom and the salty air coming from the marsh and ocean just a couple of blocks away.
What an introduction: Welcomed warm air flowing over our skin (back home it was in the ‘30s when we left)m the sounds of residents working on their homesm birds chirping, the kids at the St. Simons Elementary School, the hellos and waves from pedestrians and other cyclists as we passed and the sight of the architecture, gardens, shops and activity on the water. Biking gave us the leisurely pace to take it all in.
Exploring Back Streets by Bike
Just as the resort’s Sales and Marketing Director Bud St. Pierre had promised, the island is all about natural beauty. To get a feel for island life, many people (including us) love to explore neighborhoods. The backstreets are perfect for observing how the residents built their homes and cared for them, adding a frivolous windsock here, painting a door purple there, placing artwork on their front porches, seeing cats and dogs watch passersby from the windows. One particular structure piqued Kathy’s interest, and she hit the brakes. Between a colorful home and the sidewalk sat a lending library structure on a post, similar to an oversized birdhouse with a glass door that revealed free books within. Passersby are invited to take one or leave one (but never to sell the contents as this is a labor of sharing at no cost). That’s mighty friendly.
The bikes also allow lazily becoming a voyeur, because their height gives those few extra inches to look over fences and hedges to what might not be seen from ground level.
We found ourselves peddling side-by-side and then follow-the-leader style as we cruised along streets called Salt Air Drive, Ocean View Avenue, Admiral’s Way, as well as a Georgia favorite – Peachtree Street. Along the way, we spoke with friendly folks in their driveways or walking their dogs and pushing kids in strollers; we even spoke to a postman delivering mail.
We soon reached the end of Ocean Boulevard and took a left on Mallery Street where a few blocks of shops and eateries ushered us to a dead end anchored by the 325-foot-long St. Simons Island Pier, which is T-shaped – the top of the T is 270 feet long. To its left is the popular, well-groomed Neptune Park, where a playground, miniature golf course, picnic area and public swimming pool entertain thousands during the year. Our first stop, however, was the adjacent St. Simons Island Lighthouse, one of the best-known landmarks of the Golden Isles.
This beacon is actually the second lighthouse to stand on the island. Today’s tower, erected in 1972, is 104 feet tall, about half the height of NC’s Cape Hatteras Light, which boasts 268 steps to its observation platform; St. Simons has 129 steps. (Look for an upcoming story here with a video featuring the friendly volunteer we spoke with inside.)
Next door is the A.W. Jones Heritage Center and gift shop where you purchase lighthouse admission tickets. Located here is a historical research library. Timelines and photos adorn the walls such as one image of at the 30th G8 Summit held on neighboring Sea Island in 2004. A smiling George W. Bush and brooding Vladimir Putin recall a previous era.
Back-tracking we pedal over to the St. Simons Island Pier, a must-see. It juts into the St. Simons Sound that carries sea creatures great and small. North Atlantic Right Whales swim by between December and March. We saw a pod of dolphin. Watch the accompanying video Kathy shot to see a friendly pelican. Also passing by are boats of many sizes, including the occasional colossal cargo ship transporting hundreds of imported automobiles to the Port of Brunswick, whose parking area is visible from Interstate 95.
Some of the other attractions on the island that warrant a visit include Fort Frederica, dating back to 1736, the Maritime Center, historic slave cabins, plus miles of gorgeous coastline. Privately-owned Little St. Simons Island is a short drive away, as is Jeykll Island, of which two-thirds is a Georgia state park and can never be developed.
The bikes opened up a great overall view of St. Simons Island for us, but another alternative that we will definitely try when we return is one of the three different trolley tours like Cap Fendig’s Tours. They are a great way to see a lot in a short period of time.
Regardless, when you are on the island, go exploring. We promise there’s plenty to delight you, and nature abounds.
If You’re Going: For more, visit www.goldenisles.com for all the info you need on visiting St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Brunswick and Jekyll Island.
In the News: St. Simons Island, GA, has been nominated as one of the Best Coastal Small Towns by USA TODAY. Vote here once a day now through April 25 to help the island become the 2016 winner. Also, Garden & Gun magazine recently featured a new book and exhibit by artist Philip Juras, “The Wild Treasury of Nature – a Portrait of Little St. Simons Island,” showcasing 50 paintings of the island. Juras’s paintings will be on display through May 22 at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA, then again from July 9 to September 11 at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta, GA.
Lodging: Consider a stay at the King and Prince Resort listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Historic Hotel of America. The pet-friendly resort features numerous accommodation options from hotel rooms to villas and stand-alone beach cottages. There’s golf, tennis and a spa cottage on site plus a stellar oceanfront. The historic resort is located at 201 Arnold Rd., St. Simons Island, GA. In addition to family and couples’ getaways, it’s popular for business conferences, meetings, weddings and special events with its 10,000 square feet of function space. For reservations, call 800-342-0212 and check their special offers page such as Spring to the Shore April 10-12 by visiting http://www.kingandprince.com/special-offers.aspx.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
• Stories by JS Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiners Kathy M Newbern and spouse J.S. Fletcher report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com their personalized romance novel business. Their travels inspire many of their book settings.