Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

June 10, 2013

Trip to Georgia island like stepping back in time

LITTLE ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Ten thousand intrusion-free acres of maritime forests and marshlands, seven miles of shell-strewn beaches, this extraordinary natural sanctuary -- among the last of its kind anywhere -- is how Little St. Simons Island welcomes guests to this virtually untouched island.

Little St. Simons Island is on the Georgia coast, one of the state’s barrier islands. And although it shares a name with its larger counterpart, St. Simons Island, that’s where the similarities between the two end.

“It’s very different from the normal St. Simons experience,” Little St. Simons Island guest Joel Richardson said. “(St. Simons) is much more commercial, certainly it’s beautiful with lots of the beach and everything, but this is much more laid back, much more personal experience than what you would experience on St. Simons.”

That personal experience actually does start on St. Simons. That’s because Little St. Simons can only be reached by boat. Although the ferry ride from St. Simons to Little St. Simons is only a few miles, the short trip transports guests to a world away.

“I’ve never been on a private island before where only 32 people can come and stay and so, it’s been wonderful,” guest Kimberly Lindman said. “One night, (my husband and I) went out and explored on our own and we were out in the middle of nowhere, with no one around us, just the two of us.”

Thirty-two people is the maximum number of guests allowed to spend the night on Little St. Simons. Some nights, there are far fewer.

There’s a main lodge that serves as a gathering place for meals with a couple of guest rooms in it. There are several other cottages tucked among the oaks around it. There are no televisions or phones in guest rooms.

“It’s like stepping back in time,” Richardson said. “We went on a ride this morning out into the woods. It was like going into Jurassic Park. It was almost truly prehistoric.”

Guests won’t find any dinosaurs roaming the maritime forests, marshes or any of the other habitats on the island, but visitors will find a plethora of wildlife. Birds top the list.

“We’re right in the middle of the Atlantic flyway, so there’s a lot of people that come to Little St. Simons to see the birds,” naturalist Laura Early said.

One of the most popular spots to see the birds on the island is the rookery. Hundreds of birds gather around a freshwater pond as they lay their eggs and nurse their young. Alligators lurk in the waters below. The alligators protect the birds from other predators, like raccoons. And from time to time, some of the baby birds get pushed out of the nest and provide a meal for the alligators.

And while the rookery is a great locale to hang out and watch the wildlife, it’s far from the only hotspot on the island for a close encounter. Armadillos can be spotted around every turn; our cameras spotted a family of baby alligators trying to survive and a bald eagle chick learning to fly.

“We’ve seen alligators, we’ve seen several different types of hawks (and) seen a bald eagle; things I would never be able to find on my own,” guest Jonathan Lindman said.

And Lindman didn’t have to find any of them on his own, thanks to the naturalists on Little St. Simons. The island prides itself on providing guests with unique and absorbing experiences in the company of the experienced and gifted naturalist staff. And it’s those experiences that a trip here revolves around, the trips with naturalists and food, more on food in a minute. The staff typically offers several different exploration trips a day that bring the island to life.

“One of the things I love about being a naturalist here is that the people I work with are so excited and so knowledgeable about this stuff that it’s great to work with them and continually learn and have everyone share that passion with everyone that comes here,” Early said. “I think it’s one of the things that the guests enjoy is being able to add a little bit of education to their vacation experience.”

It’s the outdoor adventures and experiences that people visit Little St. Simons for. There is a beach here, and it’s certainly available for use, but if simply sitting on a beach all day everyday is what people are looking in a vacation, that misses what Little St. Simons specializes in. A visit to Little St. Simons is all about nature, wildlife and food.

“We’re hands on,” chef Paula Garrett said. “We create it, we create the dish, we create the recipe. It’s not that you can just come up and get the recipe because a lot of times, it’s in our head, it’s in our heart and we’re constantly changing that.”

Chefs Paula Garrett and Matthew Raiford team up to create some amazing dishes. Duck was on the menu one night.

“We have a braised duck that we do here,” chef Matthew Raiford said. “We make our own duck spice here on the island and then we take that duck spice along with the vegetable stock and a little Cabernet and slow cook it for about three hours. We add apricots, blueberries and blackberries to that poaching liquid so it gives the duck a very fruity taste.”

A USDA-certified organic garden on the island provides the chefs with plenty of food and spices to incorporate into the meals.

“We harvest something fresh everyday and it changes,” gardener Amy Schuster-Hagan said. “So the chefs here are very creative on what they can use from the garden and it always affects every meal every day, what’s the freshest.”

Rates start around $500 per night, but that includes accommodations, three daily meals, all drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, unlimited use of island activities and recreation gear, tours with naturalists and the boat transfers to and from the island.

“It was worth every penny of the trip,” guest Ingrid Richardson said. “And it gave (my husband) and me a time to be outdoors. It was relaxing, rejuvenating and restorative.”

“It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been here,” guest Kim Holiday said. “You can see it, you can look at it, but until you actually get here and have the experience, I think it’s a little difficult to explain. Me, personally, I think it’s better than Disney World. I love it. I’ll be back. It’s a really fantastic place.”

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Color Me Free fun run planned

    South Georgia House of Hope is having a Color Me Free 5k Fun Run/Walk April 26 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., to emphasize Alcohol Awareness Month. All funds raised will benefit South Georgia House of Hope, which is a long-term residential home for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and abuse.

    April 18, 2014

  • Another arrest made in kidnapping

    Another arrest was made in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, federal investigators said Thursday.
    Quantavious Thompson was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement. Details on his arrest weren’t immediately available.

    April 18, 2014

  • Firetruck answering call slams into restaurant

    April 17, 2014

  • Bat Fungus1.jpg Bat-killing fungus spreads in Georgia

    Black Diamond Tunnel sits just outside the city of Clayton in the northeast corner of Georgia. Today, the man-made tunnel is the state’s largest known winter shelter for some of Georgia’s 16 bat species. It’s also the latest site in the state to fall victim to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern half of the U.S.

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Odd Claw Machine Todd.jpg Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine

    Authorities say a toddler has been reunited with his mother after employees found him playing inside a claw crane machine at a Nebraska bowling alley.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston Marathon_Stew.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Ukraine_Stew.jpg Combat vehicles in east Ukraine fly Russian flag

    A column of armored vehicles flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian insurgents Wednesday, dampening the central government’s hopes of re-establishing control over restive eastern Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • S. Ga. river flood warning issued

    S. Ga. river flood warning issued

    April 17, 2014

  • Detroit still needs $350M from state lawmakers

    Pressure was building Wednesday for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions, a day after the city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group to reduce payouts.

    April 17, 2014

  • China’s growth slows to 7.4 percent in 1Q

    China’s economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter but appeared strong enough to satisfy Chinese leaders who are trying to put the country on a more sustainable path without politically dangerous job losses.

    April 17, 2014

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results