Georgia’s Golden Oldies: St. Simons Island

By Cacinda Maloney

A flicker of light caught my eye, as I squinted in the stark sun to look at miles and miles of sandy brown coastline with its sprigs of green grass. Standing there with my toes in the sand and looking both ways up and down the beach, I saw only a few people and four miles of beach and was lucky to have it all to myself for reflection.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

My mind wandered to the past and suddenly it was as if my college-aged son was seven years old all over again and we were searching for seashells on the beach, with his blue water pail, the one with the yellow handle. We would search for miles and miles up and down that beach. We would get up early while everyone else was sleeping and go down to the ocean waters to see what presents the tide had brought to us. We would spend hours picking thru hundreds of seashells, crabs and green glass pebble rocks and put them in his bucket that we would later take to the house where we would remove and wash off each one, organizing them in some way and then show them to his Dad when he woke up. He and I were so proud of our collection and would bring it home for our huge outdoor pot at the house that still stands there today full of these old seashells.

Diego Maloney, PointsandTravel.com

Diego Maloney, circa 2002

But now they have accumulated dust and debris, like the memories in my mind. I miss those days when life was simple, when seashells and sea glass made us happy, those long days of summer on the sandy beaches, and I am longing for them to return; yet I know they never will.

Pulling into the driveway of the King and Prince Hotel in my Mazda CX-5, I knew I had made the right choice to stay at one of the oldest resorts on the island. I can just imagine the King and the Prince back in the 1920’s, as the two of them got around the island on their golf cart. As the story goes, the two of them were starkly different, one towering over the other, so much so that they developed a nickname on the island as “the king” and “the prince” and soon enough on July 2, 1941, the hotel was born. It has had plenty of reiterations since then, and it continues to be one of St. Simons Islands most luxurious resorts.

The Kind and the Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, Georgia

The Kind and the Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, Georgia

The Kind and the Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, Georgia

The Kind and the Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, Georgia

This sun-kissed island is also a part of the Golden Isles, where the golden oldies go to live out there lives. The Golden Isles are made up of four islands – St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Jekyll Island. I only had a chance to visit two of these islands while in Georgia – St. Simon and Jekyll Island, yet each one seemed to have their own character and personality. To me, these are the “getaway islands” the ones you need when you want to slow life down and get away.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

As the end of day began and the sun started to set, it is evident as to why they call these islands the Golden Isles – because the sun’s rays cast a glow along the shoreline that makes you just sit and stare, or in my case, grab the camera and take hundreds of photo shots of the sun setting, no wonder St Simons Island was awarded America’s Favorite Beach Town by Travel & Leisure.

Sunset in St. Simons Island, Georgia

Sunset in St. Simons Island, Georgia

I had a 2015 Mazda CX-5 from STI, so I wanted to explore the island a bit in my own vehicle and made my way to Pier Village to do some shopping and eventually do a trolly tour.

Mazda CX-5, STI Drive Experience

Mazda CX-5, STI Drive Experience

I ended up missing the turn and had a longer drive across the causeway than expected, so I when calling the St. Simon Trolley on the phone to let them know I was running late, all I could think about was that the lady on the phone sounded just like the famous Southerner Paula Dean, with her thick Georgia drawl, she explained to me how to get there and where the turn off was and that she would call ahead to have the trolley wait (only in small town America does this happen!) I couldn’t help but laugh inside, as I continued to ask her questions just to hear her pronounce the words! It was the cutest thing you have ever heard and the people are quite friendly here!

Once on the trolley tour, I was able to learn more about the history of the island and I enjoyed that the guide Randy pointed out the St Simons Lighthouse that has been in operation since 1872. He also pointed out the first Black Baptist Church on the island, the Irish Cross and then we had a stop at the historic Christ Church, which is the second oldest Episcopal Church in Georgia and is also the third oldest in the nation. There was also a quick stop at a spot where hundred of oak trees were planted in a double line, which makes for a popular wedding photo spot.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St Simons Island is the largest of the group of the Golden Isles, with its live oak trees draped with Spanish moss that line the streets and countryside and ease the visitors to begin the process of slowing down and to start living the island life. Although life is slower here, you can still find plenty of things to do. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at any one of the many courses, as well as there is plenty here for nature lovers, such as fishing, bird-watching, kayaking and even dolphin watching if you catch the time just right

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

I also had a chance to visit Jekyll Island, which has a history all its own of 20th century titans of industry from the East Coast that used to use this island for a wealthy playground. Driving up thru the low hanging Spanish moss on the old Oak trees, I could see the “cottages” of the Vanderbilts, the Morgans and the Rockefellers on my way to the Millionaires Club, which is now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

The Golden Isles are worth a visit and getting there is easy as they are nearly equidistant from both Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL and not difficult to navigate to with my GPS system.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Sunset in St. Simons Island, Georgia

Disclosure: My trip to the Golden Isles was sponsored by The King and Prince Hotel, the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau and STI – the driving experience, but the memories are all my own.

2017-05-16T21:25:23+00:00

11 Comments

  1. Scott November 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I love coastal islands but I rarely get a chance to explore them. Thanks for sharing. Having four miles of beach to yourself sounds amazing.

  2. Margherita December 1, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Wow Cindy…. This piece is beautiful. I loved the opening, when you talk about beachcombing with your sun. I felt like I was there with you, and I immediately remember my own holidays when I was a child. Thanks for this wonderful memory.

    • Cacinda Maloney December 1, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Ahhh, wow, thanks, that is nice!

  3. Jill December 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Hi Cindy,

    Just found your site—very nice. Still remember my visit to both St. Simons and Jekyll Island for the destination wedding of a pair of college friends a few years ago (the bride was originally from Brunswick, GA). It was a cool October, we had the beach to ourselves and you’re right, that light was incredible! Miss Charlotte took great care of me at the spa on Jekyll Island and I loved her drawl! Hope to go back!

    • Cacinda Maloney December 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      I sure do love that Southern Charm!

  4. Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe December 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I head to St. Simon’s every year (for a work conference, but I make sure to sneak in plenty of beach time). SSI is a charming little town! (And, recently the island has gotten some fantastic new restaurants as well). Glad you enjoyed your visit! (You should also try to explore Cumberland Island if you haven’t already).

  5. […] toured Florida’s Historic Coast, staying in the historic St. Augustine, as well as toured the Golden Isles of Georgia, staying in St. Simmons Island at the lovely King and Prince Hotel. What a treat this trip was for […]

  6. […] so easy to do that I totally recommend it. As you know, I fell in love with Savannah, enjoyed the beaches of St Simon Island and told you about the “kitschy” side of St. Augustine. But believe me, that is not ALL there is […]

  7. […] for me, the dates just didn’t work, as my October and November were full with trips to Savannah, St Simons Island, St Augustine, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.   But my month of December  was wide open, other than […]

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