Each year, due to my job, I know I have a two week period off in August. In the beginning of 2016 I made plans to do a solo, cross-country road trip. The plan was to stay with friends along the way to help make it more financially feasible. I started by leaving Charlotte, NC, where I was living at the time. Then I went home to see family in Mt. Pleasant, SC. The next stop was originally in Jacksonville, FL, but the person I was going to stay with moved. So I looked to the internet to find a solution.
Only from having seen pictures, I knew there were a few beaches on the southeast coast of the US that had trees growing out of the sand. After a Google search, I discovered Jekyll Island, GA. That was the starting point of my research.
The other thing that drew me to the area was the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Brunswick, GA. I thought I was going to sign up for a night walk on the beach where you help usher newly hatched sea turtles to the their life in the Atlantic. Due to poor planning on my part, that didn’t happen. So if you plan ahead enough, I still highly recommend you contact them and set one up.
Looking back at the process of setting things up, I also believe I was lucky to have acquired the best AirBnb I have stayed in so far (and it happened to be my first ever). If you are in this area of Georgia, search the site for “Sunset Cottage aka, Little House.” You get the entire place, and to me the price is lower than it should be for what you get. It is literally a whole house, but what’s special are the decorations. Gloria put great thought into how unique and eclectic the place feels. That’s why out of over 200 ratings, she has 5 stars.
The only reason I could see people being weary of it is the outside location. The entire place surrounded by a high fence, and you don’t realize you’re blocks from a shipyard type area. There is a sketchy looking gas station across the street, but don’t let that deter you. Remember, I was a single, young female on this trip, and I felt and was safe the entire time.
I checked in quickly without having to meet the host, unloaded my car, and then it immediately started pouring. By the time I had taken in the entire cottage indoor experience, the rain stopped, and the sun actually made a reappearance. I hopped back in my car and headed to Jekyll Island. Even the drive there was picture worthy, and only took about 10-15 minutes.
Know before you go, it actually costs money to get onto the island. It was only $5, which is completely worth it. Once you drive through the marsh land, you come to a resort-like shopping center. There is a nice hotel, which I’m glad I stopped in to ask for directions to the “beach with the trees on it.” Without the help from concierge, I would have probably never found it myself.
So for those of you who decide you want to go on this adventure, once you hit the fancy shopping center, turn left. Continue down the road for a while. You’ll see the beach on the passenger side, and it is beautiful. Once you start to hit an area filled with homes and trees, keep going until you see little dirt areas on the side of the road where you can pull off and park. Once you’ve done that, you have to walk through short paths of trees to reach the beach. Where I was, once you actually got to the beach, there were a bunch of rocks. Keep walking left down the beach. Trust me, it’s all worth the search.
Then you see them. Giant trees sticking up out of the sand. Some fallen over, some just roots, and some completely upright reaching toward the sky. I don’t know if it was because of the recent rainfall or if it was due to tides, but there were pools of water around each of the bases of the trees. These were filled with fish and crabs and insects that clearly thrive on these structures.
There were a bunch of people on the beach with me, but I can imagine on a sunnier or busier weekend it may be packed. Luckily, I was able to capture some images uninterrupted by people (see below). When you look at them, wonder. Think about how these trees are still here. Think about how few people have seen them. Think about the fact that you’re on a beach with giant trees sticking up out of the sand.
I left the beach feeling closer to nature. I know that sounds kind of hippyish, but it’s true. Most days I go through the same routine of home, work, errands, and home. This place was a great reminder that moments exist where you should stop, look, and take it all in. You don’t need music. You don’t need to talk. You can just stand there and be a part of it.
On the way back to my AirBnb, immediately after you drive through the exit of Jekyll Island, there is an observation tower on the right. Again, somehow I had perfect timing, and I managed to be there during sunset. There’s a beautiful view of the marshes and the Sydney Lanier Bridge (runs over the Brunswick River).
I continued back to my AirBnb and ate leftover Pad Thai from Basil (got it in Mt. Pleasant before I headed to Georgia). I wish I could give you restaurant recommendations, but I didn’t eat in the area. It looked like there were a few good ones in the shopping center on Jekyll Island. And I’m sure you could ask Gloria for a few when you book the reservation for the stay.
The next morning I woke up, packed up, and headed out. I did get Starbucks before heading to the next destination. So at least you know there is a Starbucks (if you’re in need).
My overall experience was this was a location I would have never thought to come to. Who says, “I can’t wait to go to Brunswick, GA!” Not many. It’s usually Hilton Head or a major city in Florida. Put this on your list of places to see. It could easily become one of your favorite weekend getaways if you live in the southeast.