86 miles S of Downtown Savannah
Just 3 miles east of St. Simons Island, across the Blackbank River, Sea Island was purchased back in 1926 by Howard Coffin, who built a causeway from St. Simons to reach the 5-mile-long barrier island. His world-famous resort, the Cloister, opened in October 1928 and is still the main attraction here. It owns the entire piece of land, which can be visited on a day trip from Savannah if you don’t want to stay overnight; just allow about 1 1/2 hours to get there. When you arrive, take a scenic drive along Sea Island Drive, also called “Millionaire's Row.” Today, in addition to the hotel, the island is home to some of the most elegant villas and mansions in the Southeast. Many of Sea Island’s residences are second homes to CEOs and other wealthy folks. Some can be rented if you can afford it. Call Sea Island Cottage Rentals (tel. 877/732-4752; www.seaisland.com), but be prepared for very high prices.
The Cloister combines 10,000 acres of forest, lawn, and marshland, plus 5 miles of beachfront. It has impressed everybody from Margaret Thatcher to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, plus four U.S. presidents, including George H. W. Bush, who honeymooned here with his wife Barbara in the 1940s.