ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GEORGIA - When I visited St. Simons Island, I had no idea how charmed I’d be by the Golden Isles. Its idyllic setting with live oak trees strung with Spanish moss, long stretches of beaches, marshlands and historic sites that date back to the 1700s, was most appealing. And, of course, I had plenty of its famous Wild Georgia Shrimp.
Because St. Simons is mostly flat, it’s perfect for exploring by bicycle, which I did on my last day after sightseeing by historic trolley and boat.
It’s mid-morning when I pick up my “beach cruiser” bike at the Ocean Motion Surf Company, which is about a four-minute walk from my hotel, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. An attendant hands me a detailed map of the island’s 50-kilometres of bike trails and I start off down Ocean Road and take the trail that hugs the island’s marshlands. Noticing a stealthy egret prancing through the water searching for its next meal, I stop to watch before moving on to the Bloody Marsh National Monument.
Left: Island's famous oak forest.
When I arrive, I have the entire place to myself. As I park my bike and walk toward the stone monument, I can’t help but wonder what this peaceful place looked like on July 7, 1742 when British troops, under the command of General James Oglethorpe, squared off with the Spanish in a battle at Fort Frederica for the territory that is now the state of Georgia. The British thwarted the Spanish attack and forced the invaders to limp back to Florida’s St. Augustine humbled.
I hop back on my bike and ride toward Redfern Village. The day before, I had a delicious shrimp salad and fried okra at Gnat’s Landing. Today, I want to check out the shops. Being a lover of olive oils, I stop in Golden Isles Olive Oil and taste a range of their flavoured products. Later, I pop into Wine Body & Soul, where they are doing a wine tasting. Afterward, I cool down at Fuze Frozen Yogurt and and then head over to the charming Avenue of the Oaks.
Pedalling along Frederica Rd. I pass a 212-year-old slave cabin turned gift shop, and from there it’s a short ride to the avenue’s famed trees, which stand in front of the Lodge at Sea Island. To get the full experience, I park my bike and walk down the centre of the oak row, admiring the long-limbed 160-year-old live oak trees planted by plantation owner Anna Page King. Years ago, visiting friends and neighbours would have arrived down this same path by horse and wagon. Today, it is one of the most photographed spots on the island.
Afterward, I cruise through Pier Village, passing culinary spots like Savannah Bee Company, where I tasted my first Tupelo honey; Georgia Sea Grille, where I had my first escargot experience; and admired one of the islands carved tree spirits next to the visitor centre.
Above: Island has some unusual trees and and historic fort.
In the heat of the day, I relax by the pool until a friend joins me that evening. We ride around the base of St. Simons Lighthouse and, as we gaze up, I tell her about the 128-step trek up the tower and the breathtaking 360-degree views from the top.
We continue our ride through Neptune Park where families have gathered to enjoy the balmy evening, watch fishermen casting lines off St. Simons Island pier and stop for dinner at Brogen’s, where I indulge in another shrimp salad. Wrapping up a great day of exploring, the island gives me another memorable moment as we ride down the beach toward a peach coloured sunset.
Sometimes, travelling is better in the bike lane.•
• For information how to rent bikes at Ocean Motion Surf Company, visit
• For information on St. Simons Island visit http://www.goldenisles.com/
• For Georgia tourism, visit http://www.exploregeorgia.org/
• The best way to get to St. Simons Island is through Jacksonville International Airport
in Florida. St. Simons Island is a 1.15-hour drive north of the airport.