Water, Water Everywhere

The East Beach of Georgia’s Saint Simon’s Island greets the Atlantic with a 5-mile long, wide strip of clean packed sand custom made for a family stroll, or a bike excursion, or an introspective look at

East Beach on St. Simonsthe evening stars.  The ocean is either calm and flat, or swirling with the changes of the tides. There are shallows and sandbars, and deep blue channels.

Views of water are everywhere, ready to refresh the minds and spirits of weary travelers.

Even on holidays, the beach bustles with walkers and runners, children and adults tracing sand patterns with recumbent bikes, Frisbee players and kite flyers. There is always a spot for quiet reflection. A place to watch the changing sea and sand.

The tides on Saint Simon’s Island range from 8 to 10 feet, the largest tidal range on the East Coast excluding Maine. Sandbars exposed at the lowest tide teem with sea birds, little crabs and creatures…and vacationers who frequently make their way across the small, deeper channels to land there, latter day explorers on a voyage of discovery.

Right in front of the fabled King and Prince Resort, which has elegantly stood guard over the beach for 78 years, one can see several of these new worlds.  Some sandbars are bare sand; some are just barely awash with warm, ankle deep water. They enclose an inland sea of flat, sun heated water that’s just right for kayaks and the beach rented catamaran sailboats that glide almost silently by.

Farther out, too far to walk or wade, but visible from the restaurant’s tall, arched windows, small fishing boats congregate around what the local folk call “Whiting Hole,” a deep indentation in the bottom that is the seasonal home of its namesake. Whiting is a fish that’s deliciously mild and easy to prepare, but just feisty enough not to be too easy to catch on light tackle. Chances are, the pod of dolphins that work the length of East Beach will show up to observe, nature’s oversight on the circle of life that is the sea.

The sea is everywhere. After all, it’s an island. The ship channel between Saint Simon’s and historic Jekyll Island carries some of the world’s largest ships; most of America’s east coast automobiles land at Brunswick, GA.  These and other enormous cargo carriers pass right by the Saint Simon’s Village pier, almost close enough to touch. As they leave, they angle slightly northward, easily viewed in their majesty from the poolside veranda of the King and Prince.

On the island’s west side there are beautiful bays and miles and miles of breathtaking marshes that are the breeding grounds for all the creatures that populate these coastal waters, including the renowned Wild Georgia Shrimp. They say these shrimp are unique in all the world because they are bred in a sea grasses that don’t exist anywhere but in the broad marshes of the Georgia coast. Try a dish of local shrimp & grits for yourself and prepare to be amazed!

Frederica River winds in from the inlet past the historic sites of Gascoigne Bluff and historic Fort Frederica into an expansive bay that

Kayaking Tours on St Simons Islandwas the harbor for slavers and ships of commerce since before America’s independence.  There isn’t a place on the island that doesn’t somehow look to the sea.  Sightseeing abounds; take a bike to the fort, to Christ Church or to the archaeological digs at Fort Frederica (or a great trolley tour!). The sea, or its stories, are a constant presence.

Not far north along the beach from the King & Prince, there is a low spit of sand that extends way out into the ocean.  At low tide, you can walk its length, and a moment just before the tide begins to roll back in.  There’s a moment, a single, memorable snapshot in time where you’re totally surrounded by water. Where there is nothing but you and the sea and the sky and the salt-scented breeze. Where you are humbled, and small, and joyous in the realization that there is so much grace and beauty so much larger than yourself.

 

Find out more about the beaches and sea at Saint Simon’s Island. Go to www.kingandprince.com.

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