Shortly we leave our cherished Ocean-view condominium on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for a few days and drive southward about 2½ hours to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Our preparatory stop will be lunch at the King and Prince Beach Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia another sea island mere minutes from Jekyll Island.
From what I recall the King and Prince Hotel was built years ago (1930s) for rich American northerners who wanted a private place to eat and drink. To this day it maintains a staid appearance though it has been beautifully upgraded in many respects. We never fail to have a satisfying lunch there, most often fresh oysters to start and seafood mains. As much as we enjoy St. Simons Island our destination of choice is Jekyll Island where we have stayed a number of times in the past, first at the old-world Jekyll Island Club (with its creaky wooden floors) on a 200-acre historic preserve and latterly the new and very modern Westin Hotel on the beach.
Jekyll Island is located off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia, in Glynn County. It is one of the Sea Islands and one of the Golden Isles of Georgia barrier islands.
Jekyll Island is one of only four Georgia barrier islands that have a paved causeway to allow access from the mainland by car. It has 5,700 acresof land, including 4,400 acres of solid earth and a 200-acre Jekyll Island Club Historic District. The rest is tidal marshlands mostly on the island’s western shore. The island measures about 7 miles long by 1.5 miles wide, has 8 miles of wide, flat beaches on its east shore with sand packed hard enough for easy walking or biking, and boasts 20 miles of hiking trails.
As on Hilton Head Island our primary diversion on Jekyll Island is bicycling. The Island is so small it is possible to cycle around its entirety in a couple of hours. The smooth paths border the Ocean seashore though sometimes the route deviates through marshlands which regularly feature exotic birds and other animals. At Jekyll Market in Beach Village we have historically rewarded ourselves with sticky cinnamon rolls from an emporium called Hibiscus Café (where we also get a mean omelet for breakfast – though the service is Bohemian). Jekyll Market also features other specialty eating places for fancy sandwiches , pulled pork and seafood preparations. Nearby is a sweets shop which is guaranteed to please those who like frozen yoghurt or gelato and a choice of hundreds of perfectly sinful condiments! These little places generally reflect the intimacy of the whole Island. It is a joy to bounce from one to the other from one end of the Island to the other while bicycling along the coast, punctuated by lookouts with spectacular views.
Unmistakably Jekyll Island is renowned for its dazzling at times primitive seaside scenery. Many parts of the beach feel quite remote and secluded. It is not difficult to become completely estranged from anything the least bit urban. The Island preserves more than a metaphorical insularity. It is a great place to escape and be alone with one’s thoughts. Over the past several years we have contemplated spending our entire winter on Jekyll Island. At one time we had thought about Tybee Island because it too is small but we decided against that after a quick visit. It caters more to the younger set. We intend to make inquiries through an estate agent on Jekyll Island to canvas the progress of recent developments.
This visit we are staying at the Hampton Inn which is a middle-of-the-road hotel though its isolated prospect on the south shore promises quiet and beauty especially at this time of the year when it is likely to be very “slow” just before Christmas. Of course everything else on the Island is close by in any event, including the bike rental shop which is just up the street from the Hampton Inn. And Hibiscus Café with its cinnamon rolls! Oh my!