St. Simons Island: The Most Visited of Georgia’s Golden Isles

white pelicans
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Find authentic southern charm and history on St. Simons Island in Georgia. The island is unique with no big chain restaurants, no hotels over four stories, and no “big name” hotels. St. Simons is authentic, fun, and full of southern charm. Welcome to the most popular destination of the Golden Isles of Georgia.

Lighthouse Trolleys and Tours

Lighthouse Trolleys and Tours is the best tour company on St. Simons. The island-born owner, Captain Fendig, knows every inch of the island. His tours will give you the real scoop on the sites and history of St. Simons. By land or by sea, be sure to tour with Cap Fendig!

cap fendig lighthouse tours

St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse

There are five historic lighthouses in Georgia, and St Simon’s is one of them. Still operational, the lighthouse assists the boat traffic entering St Simon’s Sound. The St. Simon’s Lighthouse is an impressive and beautiful building housing a fascinating museum and gift shop. You can even climb the 129 steps to get to the very top of the lighthouse. Every child is going to want to see that view, so get in shape to do the climb. Save time to go to the museum. It is well worth a visit.

st simons island lighthouse museum
Relic at the SSI Lighthouse Museum.

Christ Church

Christ Church is a historical church just up the road from Ft. Frederica National Monument. It was built in 1820 and destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War. It is the 3rd oldest Episcopalian Church in America, and it is still an active church. The most fascinating part of the tour was the old cemetery where we were met by a Union Soldier at the entrance to the grounds. The family histories of those buried there were nothing short of riveting. Many famous Georgians have been laid to rest at Christ Church, including southern novelist Eugenia Price, who wrote the St Simons Trilogy. There is a sense of timelessness on the grounds of Christ Church.

christ church st simons island

Historical Harrington School

The Harrington School was founded in the 1920s by emancipated slaves on St Simon’s Island. The school provided education for black children through 7th grade until the desegregation came to Georgia in the 1960s. The school was the focal point of the African American communities on St Simons Island and full of Gullah Geechee heritage.

Amy Roberts, the historian at The Harrington School, told me that being Gullah Geechee means being an American whose origins are in Africa and whose ancestors were slaves. Amy Roberts was a knowledgeable guide who attended the Harrington School in the 1950s. Her stories of the school and the community of former slaves and their families was fascinating.

harrington school georgia

St. Simons Island Wildlife

Are you aware that the North Atlantic Right Whale spawns off of the southern Georgia coast? Every year these extremely endangered whales return to the waters of St Simons in their fight for survival. They have been driven to the edge of extinction by whalers who considered this whale to be the “right whale” to kill for oil. Because of their low numbers, boats are not permitted to get too close. Cap Fendig’s Lighthouse Trolley and Boat Tours run a trip in the winter to see these rare whales.

whale in atlantic ocean

St. Simons Island is perfect for birding. There are beautiful seabirds everywhere, and I especially loved the white pelicans; they are stunning. White pelicans are not endemic to Georgia, but they came and never left. Don’t miss a boat tour to see the incredible seabirds.

white pelicans
pelicans at st simons island

Additional Info for Visiting St. Simons Island

  • As a part of the Golden Isles, you can plan your trip to St. Simons with the Golden Isles Visitor’s Guide.
  • The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is on Jekyll Island, just a short drive from St Simons and well worth the visit. The center rehabilitates injured and ill sea turtles on the Georgia coast.
  • You can find places to stay on VRBO and Airbnb, but I recommend historic King and Prince Resort, with a perfect location (right on the beach), and great amenities including golf and onsite restaurants.
  • For more on what to see and do and where to eat at St Simons Island, refer to this post.
king and prince resort and pool

Article written by Tam Warner Minton of Travels With Tam!

Here are more of our Georgia posts:

Villa Rica

Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville

Weekend in Savannah 

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