By Sue Rodman
It takes time to do nothing. You can’t jump right into it, it’s more of a gradual process. On a vacation to Eagle Island, one of the Private Islands of Georgia, that process starts when you board the boat in Darien, Ga., sharing shoreline with the working shrimp boats that bring in sweet Georgia white shrimp for dinner. The shrimp boats are the last glimpse of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
The Journey to Your Private Islands of Georgia
The boat ride to the island helps ease you into Eagle Island time. The miles of marshland grasses, the herons, loons and if you’re lucky, maybe a dolphin or two set the tone. When you arrive at Eagle, there are little treasures and stories everywhere of how owner Andy Hill has created this escape by rejuvenating tired objects. His goal is to do the same for you. There are tiki torches made by a metalsmith from St. Simons, the upside down driftwood that has a new calling as a planter, the doors from a demolished house on Sea Island and Sago plants he grows from seed on nearby May Hall Island.
Of course the kids won’t see all that. They’ll be drawn to the huge fire pit, perfect for nighttime s’mores, the heated outdoor shower, the pond someone is sure to swim in by the end of your stay, and the woods perfect for a game of man vs. wild. My boys would immediately notice the kayaks and fishing poles. The first activity though is to head down to the dock and check the crab traps to see if dinner is waiting. If it’s hot, maybe a swim before unpacking. Eagle Island does have wifi, but don’t tell the kids.
What to Do on Vacation to the Private Islands of Georgia
I have to admit, my first reaction to Eagle Island was how fun for a day or so, but what in the world would my family do here for more than that? As I said, doing nothing is a gradual process.
Having a boat is essential in my mind. You can bring your own boat, or Capt. Andy rents them for $190 a day, less if you book at least three days. No boating experience? Don’t worry, staff orient you to the vessel and give you a tour of nearby islands including historic Sapelo where you can use the resident dock and Capt. Andy’s vehicles to get to the beach. Pile the kids in the back of the pick-up and listen to their squeals of delight as they ride without the constraints of car seats and seat belts down the autoban. If you’re the safety conscious kind, there’s also a Bronco with restraints. When you’re done, put the key back in it’s hiding spot in the tree for next time. It’s like a trip to a beach version of Mayberry.
Leave some time at Sapelo to explore the Gullah community of Hog Hammock. Get a soda or ice cream sandwich from Country Store, owned by Hog Hammock legend Cornelia Bailey. Don’t make any promises to the kids though, sometimes Country Store is open, and sometimes it’s not. Lula of Lula’s Kitchen opens her restaurant for groups of 10 or more that call ahead. Are you catching the theme here? To be sure of provisions at Sapelo, you’ll need to bring them with you.
The Private Islands of Georgia
Eagle Island is one of several islands in the Private Islands of Georgia collection. Guests at Eagle have access to the other islands as well. May Hall is a short kayak or boat ride from Eagle. May Hall is the only other island that is currently developed. Soon you’ll be able to rent a house here as well. From May Hall, you can walk to Little May Hall, and Grassie Field along a boardwalk. To access Mick or Jagger island, you’ll need a boat or low tide. Queens Island is along the Atlantic. This is where you’ll find some amazing shelling, including large oyster clusters.
You can’t help but take your time during a vacation to the Private Islands of Georgia, a boat ride to Sapelo Island is 50 minutes one way. As we walked around Little May Hall and Grassie Field on our last day, I began to reflect on my stay in the peaceful quiet of the marsh. I made a mental note of the perfect climbing tree for my son and nephew. Wondered if my teens could find their way back if they kayaked through the marshes loaded down with treasures they’d discovered on nearby islands. Thought about how much fun it would be to spend a few hours in the tiny bar on Sapelo with my brothers and cousins, then thought perhaps Sapelo wasn’t quite ready for that.
Mostly I thought about how proud my kids would be to make their own discoveries. To let life just happen, out of my sight line or any adult’s watchful eye. I smiled as I thought about the evenings around the fire pit or the hot tub, recounting the days adventures.
So in the end, what would my family do at Eagle for several days. We’d connect. We’d laugh. We’d learn how to do nothing and rejuvenate our tired souls, just like Capt. Andy’s found objects.
Tips for a great Trip to Eagle Island
A trip to Eagle Island takes a bit of planning. Food is not included in your stay, however, if you’d like, the staff at Eagle will pick up your shopping list at the Harris Teeter on St. Simon’s and have the pantry and fridge stocked when you arrive. Capt. Andy gets guest situated, orients them to the house and the waterways before heading back to the mainland. Don’t worry too much, he’s just a phone call away if you need him. If you’d like to do a guided fishing tour or kayak tour, make those plans before heading out. The Private Islands of Georgia team can direct you to reputable outfitters. If you’d like staff to prepare their signature oyster roast one evening, just ask. The conch shell shooters are optional.
Accommodations at Eagle Island
My favorite part of the house on Eagle Island is the wrap around porch. My ‘office’ is the hanging bed that overlooks the pond, just down from the hot tub. If you want more privacy, there is a hammock on the other side, but Eagle isn’t built for privacy, it’s designed to get folks connecting with each other. In the main house, there are two bedrooms and a loft that share a bath. Downstairs is a bunk room with two queen bunk beds, a queen bed and full bath. This is also where you’ll find a full laundry, ping pong table and games. Perfect for a kids hideout.
Bugs at Eagle Island
Our trip was in December and wonderfully bug free. Eagle Island is treated, so you won’t find bugs around the house or grounds. However, if you head into the marshes or woods of the other islands, pack some lightweight long sleeves, pants and plenty of bug spray.
What: Eagle Island, one of the Private Islands of Georgia
Where: Leave from the Community Dock in Darien, Ga.
When: Whenever you need to recharge
If you liked this, you may like our other posts on the Islands along Georgia’s coast:
Little St. Simon’s Island
St. Simon’s Island
While in Darien, be sure to visit Fort King George
My visit to the Private Islands of Georgia was part of a press trip. All opinions are my own.