Sea Island is 85 miles south of Savannah GA, and 70 miles north of Jacksonville FL. Guests reach Sea Island via a causeway that leads the mainland to St. Simon's Island; Sea Island is a short drive beyond. Best times to visit are late spring, summer, and early fall.
The cluster of islands off Georgia's coast had become a playground for the rich by the 1880's and nearby Jekyll Island was for decades a retreat for Rockefellers and Vanderbilts.
Sea Island was the vision of an early automobile mogul, Howard Earl Coffin. While he built cars for the masses, he built Sea Island as a kind of club where the wealthy could relax in style. (See the current dress code for Bingo, below.)
Management has remained in the family, and four generations have held off commercialization in the area, and preserved the resort's "legendary ambiance".
How legendary? President Coolidge spent Christmas in 1928, the first year that Sea Island welcomed guests. Winston Churchill's daughter married here; George Bush and Barbara honeymooned.
Most guests stay at The Cloister-- built in 1928-- and from there enjoy Sea Island's 1235 acres of forest, lawn, and marshland, 5 miles of private beachfront, and many outdoor and indoor activities.
Features of Sea Island
- Accolades: Sea Island wins plenty; Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure magazines, for example, have given Sea Island many awards, including a vote as #2 in the Top 50 Family Resorts in North America.
- Legendary golf: golf has been a feature of the resort since Coffin founded it; Sea Island has three courses and a Golf Learning Center
- Nature: 1235 acres to explore; on-site naturalists; nature tours
- Many activities -- see below
- Programs for kids and teens
- Hobie Cat sailboats, sea kayaking, beach fun cycles, Boogie Boards. (Sample prices: Hobie cat rentals $49/hour, lessons ad additional $25)*
- horseback riding
- tennis, including tournaments
- clay target shooting
- nature tours; shelling trips
- Signature Activities: bingo, hay wagon rides, Jekyll Island historic tour, Business Etiquette
What's Special at Sea Island for Families
Sea Island prides itself on treating guests like family. Many guests return year after year; some families carry on for generations. Kids 15 and under stay free in parents' room.
Programs for kids include:
- kids programs, led by "Junior Staff", during summer, spring break, and holidays
- Children's Activity Center: ping pong, air hockey, etc.
- Playtime for Kids, ages 3 to 11
- Children's Dinners, ages 3 to 11
- Teen Bowling, Flicks for Teens outings*
Lodgings and Packages at Sea Island
- The Cloister: guest rooms, suites, and villas; Cloister Beach Club Suites
Lodge at Sea Island: for golfers; in the style of a private manor; 24-hour butlers; social Evening Hour; and "a lone bagpiper closes the day from a shadowed fairway".
The Cottages: come with full resort privileges; 3 bedrooms to 9; many with private pools.
Packages: Check the Sea Island site for packages; off-season Jan. to March brings some steep price drops.
Keep in Mind
- reservations are required for many activities, and cancellations with less than 24 hours notice may incur a 100% charge.
- Sea Island has certain expectations of its guests. See, for example, these stipulations about Bingo: reservations required; "Jackets for gentlemen and boys over 12; boys under 12 should wear slacks and a collared shirt. Dinner attire for ladies. Jeans are inappropriate."
*Always check resort sites for updates.