July 20, 2024 1:35 am
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Georgia’s Well Kept Secret Named Best Beach in the South

Credit: iStock

Reinette LeJeune

Little St. Simons Island is a barrier island sitting just off the Georgia coast sprawling a wide 11,000 acres of wilderness with a 20 acre lodge to rest one’s weary head. Recently, the island topped Travel and Leisure’s “15 Best Resorts in the South,” ranking 5th on the company’s favorite islands in the United States, and ranking 4th on the “Best Resorts in the Continental U.S.” list. 

“Our focus is on getting people back out to the wilderness, enjoying the outdoors, learning more about how we manage this beautiful place and make sure it stays something that people can enjoy the same way it’s always been for years to come,” Little St. Simons Island general manager Jamie Pazur told WSB-TV’s Nelson Hicks.

Stepping foot on Little St. Simons Island is like stepping back into time, preserved and persevering as it has hundreds of years before. “The lack of human alterations I think that really sets this place apart,” ecological manager Scott Coleman said. “So many of (Georgia’s barrier islands) were farmed historically or have other developments or other impacts, but Little St. Simons has a history or very few impacts. So what you see here today is really similar to what we think the first Spanish explorers saw in the 1500 and 1600′s on the Georgia coast.”

Don’t let the name confuse you – Little St. Simons Island is vastly different from its sister, St. Simons Island. “(It’s) completely different,” Pazur noted. “St. Simons is more like a resort town. They’ve got the village, they’ve got restaurants, hotels, a built up beach and we are not that. We are not where you come if you want a beach vacation like in the traditional sense. We are where you want to come if you want to go on an adventure for your vacation.”

On Little St. Simons lays a seven mile long beach, offering a rare chance at a completely private beach day in the modern age. On a trip to this beach, chances are, you won’t encounter another person unless there’s a naturalist activity going on. “As a naturalist, my job is to take guests on the island out to experience the island on guided adventures,” naturalist Alli Smith said. “We do a lot of fishing, bird watching, kayaking, trips to the beach, talks in the barn, a little bit of everything, a little bit of learning, a little bit of adventure.” That adventure could include watching birds feed their young at Norm’s Pond, or fishing, or kayaking, or inventorying a sea turtle nest days after its hatching – this island is about experiencing nature unlike you would on the mainlands. 

Naturalist activities are offered twice daily with a mini activity offered at night — like holding and learning about a king snake. The island is open year-round with different seasons bringing totally different adventures for guests. Stays include lodging, food and nonalcoholic drinks, naturalist activities, bikes, boat transportation to and from St. Simons and more. So let’s all make sure to visit, cherish, and take care of this small southern treasure. 

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