Serving all of Coastal Georgia, from Savannah to St. Mary's......and all in between!
This article, written & published several years ago, best describes this wonderful area of the
AMERICAN JOURNEYS; Shifting Sands and a Slow Pace on the Georgia Coast If the Bluffs are not at the end of the world, they are in the same ZIP code. Midway between Savannah and Sea Island on the Georgia coast, they sit , uncelebrated, in the northeastern corner of McIntosh County, slightly more than a four -hour drive from Atlanta. If you look hard, you will find them on the map:
three contiguous fishing villages called
Shellman Bluff, Contentment Bluff and Pleasure Bluff. No more than a few dozen people live full time along the high bluffs that give the villages their names Most streets are not paved. Outside the mobile homes and small frame houses, almost every yard has a boat trailer. Everywhere are enormous moss-draped oaks. Cell phone coverage is spotty, and tourists are rare enough so that locals instantly recognize anyone who "is not from around here."
But travelers so find their way here, and they tend to return, sometimes over and over again.
They boat and fish in the creeks and rivers that wend through the greatest expanse of salt marsh on the East Coast (a third of the remaining marsh on the Eastern Seaboard is in Georgia).
They cross Sapelo Sound to Blackbeard Island, owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service, and walk on beaches devoid of other people. Some drive half an hour to Meridian to take the ferry to Sapelo Island, where a mansion remains that was once owned by the tobacco tycoon R. J. Reynolds. If things seem too quiet at night they can drive up to Savannah, about an hour away, for some city-style night life.
They can also come at any time of the year.
Nighttime winter temperatures rarely drop into the 30's, and in January the days are almost always in the 60's. I have been going to the Georgia coast for more than 30 years, and I have gone swimming in the ocean near the Bluffs on New Year's Day.
Rich Lehman, 41, a concrete salesman, towed his boat about 900 miles to the Bluffs last summer from Fort Wayne, Ind.
, for a weeklong vacation with his wife, Marcy and two daughters , Chelsey, 21, and Taylor, 17.
The Lehmans had been to Hilton Head three times , and on this trip they wanted something more remote with fewer visitors, yet still fairly close to restaurants and tourist attractions. They found it, and they plan to return.
Taylor and Chelsey were content to comb the beaches and swim in the ocean and , at low tide, off the long sandbar across the Julienton River from the house they rented. And of course the Lehmans went boating. the waters at the Bluffs are tricky. They have some of the highest tides on the East Coast, seven to nine feet. in places the ebb tide races along at five knots. The sandbars are numerous and shift frequently, and Mr. Lehman hit one of them,
broke the gears in the lower unit of his engine and had to be towed to a marina.
But, he said, what remained strongest in his memory from the trip was "hanging out on a deserted beach."
The string of barrier islands off the Georgia coast
are separated from the mainland by as much as none miles of salt marshes -- expanses of brown and gold with their own mesmerizing beauty.
Boat out beyond the marsh to the wide, flat islands, and you'll find the surf pounding onto fine, whitish sand. Near the Bluffs, most of the barrier islands are owned by the state or the federal government and remain largely undeveloped. there is no causeway to any of them; access is only by boat.
Once this stretch of coast was a dynamic place, a center of commerce and adventurism. More than a half-century before the English arrived at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, the Spanish had missions and fortifications here, the largest and most important on nearby St. Catherines Island.
The Spanish foothold was "founded earlier, involved more people and lasted longer" than did the mission culture of the Southwest, according to David Hurst Thomas,
an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural history in New York who has excavated the mission on St. Catherine's Island.
Edward Teach, the notorious pirate known as Blackbeard, plundered this coast, and some of his treasure is said to be buried on the island named for him, Black Beard Island - the island roamed by Mr. Lehman and his family.
2008 Marsh Mud Publications All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified.