St. Simons not only attracts families looking for a beach, but it’s also heaven for golfers. Jet-skiing, charter fishing, scuba diving, and cruising can also be arranged at Morning Star Marinas at Golden Isles, 206 Marina Dr. (tel. 912/634-1128; www.morningstarmarinas.com/golden-isles), on the F. J. Torras Causeway.
Beaches -- You’ll find two white-sand public beaches here, foremost of which is East Beach at Massingale Park, 1350 Ocean Blvd. (tel. 912/265-0620). This county-maintained beach contains a picnic area and a bathhouse. It’s open daily 6am to 10:30pm; a lifeguard is on duty June 1 to Labor Day, daily from 11am to 4pm. Parking is free in designated areas, and drinking is allowed on the beach but only from plastic containers (no glass). Fishing is free from the beach but allowed only from 4 to 10pm.
Another public beach is the Coast Guard Station Beach, East Beach Causeway, also family oriented, with a bathhouse and showers (this section of East Beach is often referred to as just “First Street Beach Access,” or just “Coast Guard Station”). Lifeguards are also on duty from June 1 to the Labor Day weekend, daily from 11am to 4pm. Parking is free in designated areas, and fishing is permitted during non-swimming hours from 4:30 to 10pm. Drinking is allowed on the beach from plastic containers only.
Bike Rentals -- Ocean Motion, 1300 Ocean Blvd. (tel. 800/669-5215 or 912/638-5225), suggests that you explore St. Simons by bike and will provide detailed instructions about the best routes. The island is relatively flat, so biking is easy. Beach cruisers are available for men, women, and kids, with infant seats and helmets. Bike rentals cost $12 for 4 hours and $16 for a full day.
Fishing -- Your best bet is Golden Isles Charter Fishing, 104 Marina Dr., Golden Isles Marina Village (tel. 912/638-7673; www.goldenislesfishing.com), which offers deep-sea fishing and both offshore and inshore fishing. Captain Mark Noble is your guide.
Golf -- It’s golf—not tennis—that makes St. Simons Island a star attraction. Foremost among the courses is the for-guest-use-only Sea Island Golf Club, 100 Retreat Ave. (tel. 912/638-5118; www.seaisland.com), owned by the Cloister of Sea Island. At the end of the “Avenue of Oaks” at historic Retreat Plantation, the club consists of three 18-hole courses: the Retreat Course, the Plantation Course, and the Seaside Course.
The club opened in 1927 and offers dramatic ocean views, adding a measure of excitement to the game. Its greatest fans mention it with the same reverence as St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, or Ballybunion. Former president George H. W. Bush liked the courses so much that he once played 36 holes a day. Seaside, host of the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic, is definitely the most famous of all—known for the 414-yard no. 7. Golf Digest has called this hole one of the best in golf and among the toughest in Georgia. A drive has to clear a marsh-lined stream and avoid a gaping fairway bunker.
Greens fees range from $90 in December to $295 March through May, with the cart and the caddie fee included. The state-of-the-art Golf Learning Center (www.seaislandglc.com) on the grounds can help improve even an experienced golfer’s game. Also on the grounds are a pro shop, clubhouse, and restaurant. Courses are open daily from 8am to 6pm.
Sea Palms Golf & Tennis Resort, 5445 Frederica Rd. (tel. 800/841-6268 or 912/638-3351; www.seapalms.com), offers outstanding golf on its Tall Pines/Great Oaks (18 holes, 6,500 yd., par 72), and Sea Palms West (9 holes, 2,500 yd., par 72) courses. Some holes nestle alongside scenic marshes and meandering tidal creeks. Reserved tee times are recommended, and cart use is required. The courses are open daily 7am to 7pm, charging greens fees of $84, with cart rental included.
Nature Tours -- Ocean Motion Surf Co, 1300 Ocean Blvd. (tel. 912/638-5225; www.stsimonskayaking.com), offers nature tours by kayak of the island’s marsh creeks and secluded beaches. Featured are a 2-hour dolphin nature tour for $45.
Sailboat Rentals -- Ocean Motion Surf Co, also arranges hourly, half-day, or full-day Hobie Cat sailboat rentals ($75/hr.), along with sailing lessons (by experienced instructors) and sailboat rides ($95/hr.)