The GypsyNesters a RoamRight Blog Author

See The Sea Islands of America's Southeast Coast

The islands of South Carolina and Georgia are full of history and scenery.

The Atlantic shoreline of South Carolina and Georgia is made up of a series of islands known collectively as the Sea Islands. They offer visitors everything from uninhabited marshlands and protected state and federal parklands, to historic ruins and friendly fishing communities. For foodies seafood is the best bet, and throughout the islands you can enjoy this local specialty at gourmet restaurants and funky waterside hideaways alike. Whether you're looking for barefoot-on-the-beach or playgrounds for the rich and famous, you'll find it here. From north to south, a few of the highlights include:

Waterside Camping on Edisto Island

Edisto Beach State Park has a campground right on the beach, along with many multi-use trails. Exploring by bike is a great way to see the Spanish Mount. Not an actual mountain, and certainly not Spanish, this huge shell midden was left behind after hundreds of years of oyster eating by the Edisto Indians.

History and Hauntings on St. Helena Island

Two of the area's most renowned landmarks are on this island. The Penn Center is committed to preserving the unique culture of the Sea Islands through its History and Culture Program. In 1862 philanthropists, abolitionists, and missionaries from Pennsylvania opened the Penn School to educate the Sea Island slaves who were freed during the Civil War. The Center operated as a school for nearly one hundred years, but now has shifted focus to other services such as child care and health training.

Just down Lands End Road from Penn Center, through a thick growth of live oaks heavily draped with Spanish moss, stands the ruins of a Chapel of Ease. Built by the plantation owners because the churches in the cities were too far away, this particular example dates back to the 1740s.

Off to one side of the chapel there are several unkempt graves and an open, empty mausoleum that is key to one of the many ghost stories that circulate in these parts. Legend has it that the tomb was broken into and raided by Union soldiers, but when repairs were made it refused to remain shut. By morning the bricks had all been removed again and neatly stacked next to the broken entrance. Another spooky legend has a eerie orb of light traveling down Lands End Road after dusk, reportedly a spirit in search of a lost love.

Golf and Gullah on Hilton Head

For golfers Hilton Head means one thing, championship courses. For over fifty years the PGA Heritage Classic has been played at the Sea Pines Resort, and there are over twenty other courses on the island to keep even the most die-hard duffers busy for weeks.

The West African descendants known throughout the Sea Islands as Gullah are deeply connected with the island as well. It is home to the Gullah Museum and the annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration. While investigating the stories and traditions of the Gullah people, make sure to indulge in some down-home home cooking. There's no better way to connect with the culture than through food, so dig in to some she-crab soup, hoppin' John, fried okra, or shrimp & grits.

Search for a Sea Serpent on St. Simons Island

Legend has it that a Loch Ness Monster-type sea serpent swims the Atlantic waters around the mouth of The Altamaha River. Known as Altie, short for the native name Altamaha-ha, tales of the creature go back hundreds of years. Sightings have been few and far between so be sure to have the camera ready.

For more of a sure thing, check out Fort King George across the river in nearby Darien. Georgia's first colonial British garrison served as the colonies' southernmost outpost to defend against the advances of the Spanish and French and helped give the state its name.

Examine the Accounts on Jekyll Island

The Jekyll Island Club is now a hotel, but was once an incredibly exclusive getaway. Back in 1910, some of the world's richest men gathered here under strict secrecy to plan a central bank for America, which became The Federal Reserve. At the time Forbes magazine called it "...this strangest, most secret expedition in the history of American finance." It may have been the most pivotal point in the entire economic history of the country, yet the secrecy remains. There is not one word mentioning the meeting at the state park that is home to the club today.

Which island would you visit first?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

The GypsyNesters

The GypsyNesters, a RoamRight Blog Author

When their youngest child left home for college, David & Veronica experienced the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. Their response was to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, put on their vagabond shoes and become GypsyNesters! Along the way they rediscovered the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior.

They are the authors of Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All  .

Follow their escapades on, Facebook,  Twitter,  Pinterest,  YouTube and  Google Plus.

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