By Joe O’Donnell
The boat picked us up at the end of a windswept dock on a blustery spring morning. The tall grasses swayed and the low-slung boat rode across the wind-whipped waves in a way that made you feel communion with the water was imminent. Certainly communion with nature was imminent because this boat was headed to Little St. Simons Island and its famous Lodge.
Little St. Simons Island, accessible only by boat, is a privately owned barrier island on the Georgia coast. Accommodations on the 10,000-acre Island are in The Lodge’s six unique guest cottages with room for just 32 overnight guests. The all-inclusive resort offers the unique opportunity to enjoy expert-led nature excursions and outdoor recreation, set against a wilderness backdrop that has remained nearly unchanged for a century.
The trails, creeks, and seven miles of unspoiled Atlantic beach bring nature home in an inescapable way. Deer. Songbirds. Waterfowl. When we arrived, a rescued hawk was about to be set free from a cage in a central gathering place in front of the hunting lodge. A handler spoke for a few minutes before the hawk hopped from its cage to the ground, looked around a bit, and then took off into the tree-dappled sunlight and out of sight.
The ways to commune with nature are plentiful: Fishing. Birding. Long walks through the woods, or a bike ride to the beach, brings a level of relaxation and sense of wonder that would be hard to replicate anywhere else. Viewing platforms complete with binoculars are set up across the marshes, bringing hundreds of bird species, ducks, and one particularly lazy alligator into sharp focus.
The Lodge serves as the communal gathering spot for the guests, where first-class meals are served family-style and the staff comes in to tick off some options for that day’s or evening’s activities. Think of a camp dining hall with really great food and a chance to chat with very interesting people, friends, and natural adventure colleagues for a long weekend at least.
The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island enjoys national acclaim, including Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2007, 2013, and 2014, Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2013, Outside Magazine 2013’s “Adventure Bucket List,” and 2013 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.