Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Easy but total escape

You don't have to be a millionaire or know one to enjoy a private island. You don't even need a passport.

All you need is a reservation with Private Islands of Georgia for one of their back barrier islands off the coast of Georgia.

A stay on Eagle Island, the first owner Andy Hill opened for guests, puts you in the middle of 10 cleared acres of a 150-acre island where no human had lived since the indigenous coastal population rowed out there for oyster roasts.

You can have one too. Bring your own and do-it-yourself or contract with Andy to handle everything for you. Same with Low Country Boils and pork roasts.

You and your companions will be met by Andy and his staff at the docks in Darien, GA. Your gear - clothes, beverages and food - will be loaded aboard his boat which you, too, will board for the 15-minute ride to Eagle Island.

Tip: It's an easy step off boat to floating dock, but depending on the tides, the stepped ramp up to the large stationary dock can be a bit steep so take advantage of the railings and pull.
It's approximately 182 steps on a level path to the lodge, 18 steps up to the main level of the low country-styled lodge.

Take a look around while everything's brought up to the lodge and pick your sleeping space: the bunk room on ground level with its bathroom, ping pong table, TV, video games and two double-decker bunk beds and a queen-sized bed; the two bedrooms and bath on the main level or the twin beds in the sleeping loft.

The great room is centered with a huge brick fireplace, the kitchen is equipped with tableware for 12. Surrounding you is a huge screened deck with hot tub, fireplace, lounges, tables, a hammock and a sofa-swing that's suspended on chains from the ceiling, even a bookcase.

Sit down near the hot tub, look out and up to see your nearest and only neighbor, a pair of eagles nesting in a tall pine tree. Underneath the deck is a commercially-equipped outdoor kitchen and grill and an anything but commercial outdoor shower for two.

Once you're settled, Andy and his crew leave and Eagle Island is all your and yours alone until they return to take you back to mainland reality.

Private pleasures
Fire pits, fishing tackle and bait, crab traps and a tandem kayak are there for your use. So is a trail that circles the island, passing by the oyster mounds left by those much earlier visitors. There's even a hammock for a nap by the marshes.

Warning: The trail is relatively flat, as is the island, but ground on the trail is very uneven and rooty. Make or take a walking stick for balance.

Andy can arrange for tours of nearby Sapelo Island or guided kayak trips through the tributaries of the Altamaha River and he will orient guests who come with their own boats to local waters. He'll even loan you the keys to the car he keeps on Sapelo.

The rest of the fun is up to you. There is satellite TV, cell phone and Internet service if you must, but my recommendation is to sit back, chill out, swing awhile on the porch sofa, watch the eagles in their nest and listen to the breeze freshening.

Wait a minute. Tell me when you're going and I'll join you!


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