We are all familiar with the saying “good things come in small packages,” and that sentiment holds true even when talking about destinations.
Even thought it’s only 18 miles long, St. Simons Island is the largest of Georgia’s four barrier islands. These aren’t cookie-cutter islands, either. Each island has its own personality and flavor. Located between Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla., St. Simons Island exemplifies a laid-back style intertwined with old-fashioned southern charm.
And don’t worry about finding things to do. While the island may be small, there is plenty to keep you busy (that is, if you want to be.) Whether you are visiting for a weekend or longer, there are certain things that should be on your to-do list for a true Saint Simon Island experience.
Explore: No doubt about it, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean is alluring, but it is worth taking a day (or two) off to discover other activities and sights. Learn the lay of the land (and more) when you board Lighthouse Trolleys. Conducted by native Cap Fendig, the history tour takes you to such sites as Saint Simons Lighthouse, Christ Church, Fort Frederica and more. What makes unlike other tours is that you get to learn the scoop that goes along with the island’s history. Want two wheels to go out on your own? Consider renting a bike from Ocean Motion and following any of the 21 miles of bath path the island has to offer.
Do: Get out on the water via kayak, SUP (Stand-up Paddle board) or sailboat. golf on one of the island public courses, including the The King and Prince Golf Course. While it may be pleasing to the eye, it’s a challenging 18-hole course. Spot a dolphin (and possibly more) while on Cap Fendig’s Dolphin Tours. If you are into antiques or boutique stores, you won’t be disappointed with shopping while at St. Simons Island. The hardest part may be deciding on what you would like to take home.
See: Horse shoe crabs, baby blunt-nose sharks, squids, blue crabs and more (oh my!) are discovered when “Lady Jane” dumps her net during the shrimping cruise. Departing from Brunswick, the refurbished shrimping vessel smoothly cruises out for an educational and entertainment expedition. Assist the crew in gathering up the shrimp, because those are to be boiled and sampled during the journey. You can’t get any fresher than that.
Eat: It’s okay to admit that one of the reasons you take a trip is so you can eat at new places. And on St. Simons Island, you will quickly find out there is something for every taste and budget. If you are in the mood for seafood, head over to on “everything being fresh.” Supporting local fisherman and farmers, their menu changes accordingly to what’s in season and what’s available, however some of their signature items include shrimp and grits, shrimp tacos and strip steak with an Asian flair. Go where to locals go to enjoy breakfast at barbecue while at the beach? Head over to Beachcomber BBQ to enjoy some pulled pork or ribs, two of their most popular items. You aren’t eating at just any barbecue shack, this one was featured on Food Channel’s Alton Brown’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, where he highlighted the Boston butt, ribs, beans and cole slaw. A family effort, Beachcomber BBQ is ran by brother and sister team, Roger and Heather Hardman. Heather says they learned their barbecue skills through their step-father, who loved to barbecue. Even the recipes have a family touch to them, for example, she points out the tater salad is her grandmother’s recipe.
Grand Dame of St. Simons Island
“Growing up, The King and Prince was ‘just about everything’,” recalls Curt Smith, Lighthouse Historian. “It was history, charm and grace. The King and Prince was the link between the romantic past of St. Simons Island and the present.”
What just may be the island’s best known icon, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, started out as a small, private dance club in the mid-1930s. Six years later, it would open to the public as a hotel, under the name King and Prince Hotel, but then quickly closed when it became a wartime training and coast-watching station for the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1947, when it became a hotel once again and remained one. Of course, like every property it’s gone through expansions, renovations and restorations, but it has never lost its grandeur or importance to the area. In 2005, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
Even with its storied history, the resort doesn’t come off as being pretentious. Once you step inside the lobby, you’ll discover a warm and welcoming place. And this by design. According to Bud St. Pierre, director of sales and marketing, it’s all about the people.
As for the property itself, you’ll find your choice of accommodations within four buildings. You can opt to stay in an oceanfront room, a resort view or an oceanfront suite, among others. Each type is comfortable and well-appointed for every type of traveler. Two to three bedroom villas are also available as well.
Highlights of The King and Prince’s amenities include the above-mentioned off-site golf course and on-site, there are six swimming pools, each offering views of the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, tennis court with a tennis pro (private and group lessons are available) and the Royal Treatment Cottage. If you are looking to indulge while here, book a massage at the Royal Treatment Cottage.
And then there is the dining. Headed up by Executive Chef Jeff Kaplan, who says he tries to feature “as much southern culinary traditions as possible,” everything that is used is sourced as local as possible and always in season. Make sure to have at least one meal on property while visiting the area. You won’t be disappointed and might discover a new favorite dish.
photo credit: The aerial shot and the photo of the Ocean Front guest room were provided by The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort