83 miles S of Downtown Savannah
The largest of the Golden Isles (just over 16 sq. miles), St. Simons Island is also the most popular for its beaches, golf courses, scenery, and numerous tennis courts. Through tunnels of ancient oaks, you can bike and drive the length of St. Simons, finding treasures at every turn. It’s a vacation haven for families.
The early inhabitants of the island are thought to have been the Timucuan people, with a Native American presence going back at least 2,000 years. Fort Frederica was built by James Oglethorpe here between 1736 and 1748 to protect the southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. In the 1742 battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek, Oglethorpe’s forces trounced Spanish invading troops. Like most of the islands on this stretch of coast, St. Simons later became a center of production for Sea Island cotton. The huge numbers of African slaves who worked these plantations eventually created the unique Gullah culture, though little remains of their presence today. Since the early-20th century the island has been transformed into a resort community, though much of it remains untrammeled marsh and woodland.