Georgia’s coast: off the beaten path

The Georgia coast is a hot spot for tourists from around the state and the world. But, along with the traditional – and sometimes crowded – beaches, restaurants and shops, there are spots that fly under the radar where peace, quiet, tranquillity – and a little history – can be found during your next seaside vacation.

Fort Frederica, a national monument on St. Simons that dates from 1742 is a great place for adults and kids to learn more about the state’s history, Scott McQuade, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, says. It’s where Georgia’s destiny was decided when British troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring the state’s future as a British colony.

Cannon’s Point Preserve, also on St. Simons, is a 600-acre nature preserve on the north end of the island, owned by the St. Simons Land Trust. Here’s where you really step off the path, McQuade says. The preserve features plantation ruins from the 19th century, a network of trails and bike paths, and acres of maritime forest. “That’s like stepping back in time,” he says. “You get to have a primitive wilderness experience basically at the doorstep of these great amenities [on St. Simons].”

If quiet spots on busy St. Simons don’t offer enough solitude, check out Georgia’s barrier islands that are so far off the beaten path you have to take a ferry to reach them – Sapelo, Cumberland and Little St. Simons.

Before visiting, it makes sense to consider the words of Fred Hay, Sapelo’s island manager. “It pays for people to research and say, ‘is this something that’s going to appeal to me?’” he says. “If an isolated beach with no man-made structures as far as you can see to the north and south, if that kind of thing appeals to you, Sapelo’s your place. If you’re looking for big restaurants or a bustling commercial nightlife, Sapelo’s not the place for you.”

Learn more about things to do on Georgia’s quiet islands in this month’s feature “Back in Time.”

Photos of Cumberland Island by Eliot VanOtteren

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