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P.O.Box 1497 Darien, Georgia 31305        912.437.6684 (Phone)      912.437.5251 (Fax)

Sapelo Island

Tabby ruins on Sapelo Island
Sapelo Lighthouse
Beach on Sapelo Island
RJ Reynolds Mansion
Coffin House circa 1912
Coffin House circa 1928
Typical wildlife on Sapelo Island
Shrimpboat seen from the beach on Sapelo Island
The beauty of this pristine island is often amazing

Georgia's National Treasure

Sapelo is a state-managed barrier island, the fourth largest in the chain of coastal Georgia islands between the Savannah and St. Marys rivers.  Accessible only by passenger ferry from Meridian Dock eight miles northeast of Darien, Sapelo provides a number of public access recreational, educational and lodging opportunities.

The island is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Wildlife Resources Division), which operates the ferry service and serves as the state liaison for several other island entities. These include the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR), administered and operated in a state-federal partnership between Georgia DNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; also, the University of Georgia Marine Institute, and the civilian Hog Hammock community, permanent home to about 70 full-time residents, many of whom are descended from the antebellum slaves of Sapelo’s various plantations.

The SINERR comprises 6,100 acres of pristine tidal salt marsh and upland maritime forest. It is the primary platform for public education and outreach on the island, as well as coordination of various scientific research and water quality monitoring initiatives. The SINERR also operates the mainland Visitors Center at the Meridian ferry dock from which visitors may make tour reservation for public day trips to the island on Wednesdays and Saturdays the year around in addition to Fridays during the summer.

DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division manages the 7,000-acre R.J. Reynolds WMA an area set aside for seasonal recreational hunting for the public, in addition to wildlife research and forest management. The DNR and SINERR headquarters are located at the Long Tabby, housed in a restored tabby sugar mill originally built in 1809.

DNR, through its Parks & Historic Sites Division, also operates the R.J. Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo. Built by Thomas Spalding in 1810 and restored successively by automotive pioneer Howard Coffin in 1925 and tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds in the 1940s, the Mansion provides overnight accommodations for groups of up to 28 with meals and other amenities prepared by island residents. The mansion also operates a public beach campground at Cabretta, for groups of up to 25 persons.

The University of Georgia Marine Institute, housed in the former farm and dairy complex built by Reynolds in the 1930s, has conducted estuarine research since 1953 with the focus on the chemical and biological processes associated with the surrounding tidal salt marsh ecosystem. Some of the leading ecologists in the world have conducted field studies at the Marine Institute, including Dr. Eugene Odum, “father of modern ecology.”

History

Sapelo’s human occupation dates back at least 4,500 years based on archaeological studies conducted at the Shell Ring and various shell middens on the island. From the late 16th century to 1680 the Franciscan Mission of San Jose was part of the chain of Spanish missions along the southeastern coast. Thomas Spalding owned most of Sapelo from 1802 until his death in 1851 and it was during this period that the island became one of the largest and most efficiently managed Sea Island cotton and sugar cane plantations in the South. Spalding was an agricultural innovator whose techniques were far ahead of his time. He owned 400 slaves and, after the Civil War, his descendants sold tracts of land on Sapelo to a number of the freed slaves. Later, several African American settlements thrived on Sapelo, at Raccoon Bluff, Shell Hammock, Belle Marsh, Lumber Landing and Hog Hammock.

Howard E. Coffin, chief engineer of the Hudson Motorcar Company, acquired all of Sapelo, excepting the African American communities, in 1912 and, much in the manner of Spalding, engaged in a variety of pursuits on the island. Coffin provided employment to the black communities through farming activities, road building, land clearing, oyster and shrimp processing and boat building. Coffin also restored Spalding’s Long Tabby sugar mill for use as a guest quarters, and completely rebuilt the original Spalding main house into one of the most palatial estates on the Georgia coast. A parade of famous visitors came to Sapelo in the 1920s and early 1930s, including two U.S. presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, the aviator Charles Lindbergh and the golfer Bobby Jones. In 1934, during the Depression, Coffin sold Sapelo to Richard J. Reynolds of North Carolina. Reynolds used the island as a private retreat until his death in 1964. During his ownership the African American communities were consolidated into the one at Hog Hammock.

In 1969, Reynolds’ widow, Annemarie Schmidt Reynolds, sold the upper two thirds of Sapelo to the State of Georgia then in 1976 she sold the remaining acreage of the south end to the State, that portion becoming the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Perhaps the most visible manmade feature of Sapelo is an 80-foot tall lighthouse, built by the federal government in 1820. It was deactivated after the hurricane of 1898 and remained unlit for a century, until a restoration of the tower by DNR. Repainted in its original alternating red and white bands, the Sapelo light is once again a working aid to navigation overlooking the waters of Doboy Sound, once the anchorage for hundreds of sailing ships arriving from all over the world to load pine timber processed at the numerous sawmills in the Darien area.

Hog Hammock is a center of African American culture and history, one of the most unique communities of its kind on the south Atlantic coast. Home of the Geechee culture, a derivative of the South Carolina Gullah, Hog Hammock comprises 434 acres of privately-owned, or community-owned land.

Day tours for the general public of Hog Hammock and other areas of Sapelo are conducted the year around. Reservations may be made through the Sapelo Island Visitors Center (912-437-3224), located at the mainland ferry dock. Tours for school groups, elder hostels and other entities are also available several days a week by contacting the SINERR education office (912-485-2300). Information may be found at the SINERR website www.sapelonerr.org

Private tours and overnight lodging are also available from Hog Hammock residents, information on which is available at the Visitors Center, as well as details relating to lodging accommodations at the Reynolds Mansion or the Cabretta Campground.

Fishing, Hunting, Boating

kayaking the Georgia coast
The Captain Gabby
kayaks ready to hit the open water
Captain Gabby was featured on Georgia Outdoors
An aerial shot of Champney boat ramp
David Hust with Mad Shark Charters
sapelo river at sunset
kayaking the Altamaha
Darien riverboat
casting a net at sunset

The waters of McIntosh County are known as the Fisherman's Paradise. The abundance of rivers, wild life, birds, fish, and proximity to the ocean attracts sportsmen to the area from around the world.  If you are interested in a hunting or fishing guide, chartered fishing excursion, or a leisurely ride through the marshes, you will find experienced, knowledgeable boat captains and guides throughout the area.

Altamaha Coastal Tours

Canoe & Kayak Tours and Rentals, Bicycle Rentals and Tours, Four Season Adventures

A variety of trips to various ecosystems are hourly to multi-day.  Seasonal attractions include camping, fishing, birding, swimming or exploring with a friend and a camera.  A natural paradise - family friendly and easy to visit.

229 Fort King George Road
Historic Darien River (east of bridge)
912-437-6010
www.Altamaha.com

Blue N Hall Marina/McIntosh County Rod and Gun Club

1510 Blue N Hall Rd. SE
Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-4677

Brethren of the Coast Charters

Captain Carl Pollock

912-269-1718

Townsend GA  31331
captaincarlpollock(at)yahoo.com
www.brethrenofthecoastcharters.com

Captain Dupree’s Charters

Tours from the freshwater Altamaha river and its tributaries, out to the salt marshes and estuaries of the Atlantic Ocean are offered. Tours may be as brief as a 30 minute boat ride or an all day excursion. Some things you may see on your tour will include large Cypress trees, alligators, dolphin, mink, otters, raccoons, and an abundance of birds and waterfowl including Osprey, Hawks, Bald Eagles, Swallow tailed kites, Teal, Roseate Spoonbills, Oystercatchers, and Pelicans just to name a few. Enjoy our remote beaches. Come see our beautiful barrier islands, some of which were home to sawmills during the timber boom of the 1800's. Enjoy the history that our quiet coastal counties have to share with you and your family.

PO Box 1584
Darien, GA 31305
(912) 223-8998
duplinriver(at)yahoo.com

Captain Gabby Charters

Come aboard a converted shrimp boat!. Now a kayak mothership equipped to take you anywhere adventure calls. Let the experienced captain and naturalist guides take you off the beaten path. After a day of exploring, the mothership has all of the amenities you need to comfortably relax. Better yet, spend a few nights aboard. Fully guided charters from 3 hours to 7 days along the wild and scenic Coast of Georgia!

Located in Darien, GA - perfectly poised between remote beaches and cypress swamps.

All charters take up to 6 passengers.

Docked on Historic Darien River behind Skipper's Fish Camp.
Screven Street Dock
(912) 270-5383
www.captgabby.com

captgabby@gmail.com

Champney River Park

The Champney River Park offers a boat ramp, fixed dock, floating dock, cat walk across the Champney River, and picnic tables. This is a double-lane public boat ramp on deep water with portalets, potable water, and parking for up to 50 vehicles pulling trailers. The Department of Natural Resources maintains an oyster shell collection/recycling area at the south end of the park. Directions: From I 95, take Exit 49 south on GA Hwy 251 for 1.2 miles to U.S. Hwy 17. Turn right (south), go 3.3 miles and cross the Champney River Bridge. Turn left into parking area at south end of bridge.  The public can utilize these facilities for fishing, crabbing, and access into the Champney River.

Coastal Adventures of Georgia

At  Coastal Adventures of Georgia, we have many options for excursions, all tailored to suit your needs. With Captain Virginia Baisden at the helm, you're in for a great time! Explore the Georgia coast with us. See marshes, barrier islands, ballast  islands, Intracoastal Waterway, and more.

Call today to schedule your tour!

Captain Virginia Baisden

(912) 230-6205

(912) 832-4962.

Dallas Bluff

1132 Midway St. NE

Townsend, GA 31331
(912) 832-5116

Darien River Runs Excursions

Weather and tides permitting, we go where you want to go, when you want to go.  Travel the remote Altamaha River or a salty Barrier Island tour.  Early morning bird watching or sunset wine sipping.  You choose your version of the river run.

Sheryl Schooley, U.S.C.G. Master Captain
Docked on Historic Darien River
912-996-3531
Sheryl(at)DarienRiverRuns.com

Darien City Boat Ramp (west of Darien River Bridge)

This is a public boat ramp and docks built and maintained by the Darien Downtown Development Authority. There are six parking spaces for vehicles pulling trailers. There is also a strict, six-hour tie-up limit; long term mooring is not permitted.

Screven Street at Skipper's Fish Camp
One Block from US Highway 17 (Historic Downtown Darien)
912-437-6686

Darien Waterfront Park Docks (east of Darien River Bridge)

These docks offer long-term mooring, electricity and water for a fee.  Located adjacent to the McIntosh County Industrial Development Authority and east of the Darien River Bridge, the ramp is one single-lane.  Directions: From I 95, take Exit 49 south on GA Hwy 251 for 1.2 miles to US Hwy 17. Turn right (south) 1.2 miles to Broad Street. Turn right before crossing Darien River Bridge Drive approximately 0.1 miles and take first left. Boat ramp located at bottom of bluff.

105 Fort King George Road (Historic Downtown Darien)
912-437-6659
912-437-8777
912-437-3505 (fax)

Fisherman’s Lodge

1210 Fishermen’s Lodge Rd. NE
Townsend, GA 31331
(912) 832-4671

Freespooling Charters

Captain Wendell Harper

912-437-8200
912-222-0591
13215 GA Hwy 99
Darien, GA  31305

Hildreth Charters

Captain Hildreth will put in at Champney boat ramp and charters fishing trips as well as marsh hen hunting when in season.  He can also be an alligator guide for those lucky enough to draw tags.

Captain Greg Hildreth

912-617-1980
912-261-1763

www.georgiacharterfishing.com

 

Like to Fish Charters

Near Shore Charters, Cast Net Charters, Restaurant Tours

Certified by United States Coast Guard.
Captain Hope
912-270-7965

912-832-4817
www.LikeToFish.com
captaindo(at)liketofish.com

Liquid Asset - Offshore (Deep Sea) Fishing Charters

Let me show you the great offshore fishing available on Coastal Georgia. Great catches of king mackerel, amberjack, grouper, snapper, and black sea bass are plentiful close to shore. Catches of dolphin, wahoo, and tuna can be caught farther out at the Gulf Stream. A trip offshore makes for a busy day--working, fishing, learning, and even some leisure. Fish from the Liquid Asset, a 27 ft. center console Contender boat equipped with 400 horsepower. We can reach speeds up to 50 mph. Children, age nine and older will have great fishing experiences and are encouraged to participate. All licenses, tuna permits, bait, and tackle are provided.

Captain Larry Swicegood

912-264-8860
912-222-2042
www.liquidassetfishing.com

larry(at)liquidassetfishing.com

Mad Shark Charters

If you are looking for an exciting and educational adventure on the water, contact Mad Shark Charters for a memorable experience. Captain Dave is U.S. Army retired and has over 30 years experience in the outdoors and on the water. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge of fishing and the amazing wildlife of the Golden Isles, Blackbeard, Sapelo, Saint Simons, Jekyll and Cumberland Islands, the Georgia Coast and the Altamaha River.  Mad Shark Charters is kid friendly and parents are encouraged to bring them along to create lasting family memories.

Captain David Hust

912-223-1066
Darien, GA 31305

www.madsharkcharters.com

Pine Harbor Marina

1162 Pine Harbor Marina Rd. NE
Townsend, GA 31331
(912) 832-5999

Scallywag Sailing Tours

Owned and operated by Captain Ken, a 22 year retired veteran of the US Coast Guard. His unique background provides guests with a one of a kind experience aboard a classic sailing ketch. Captain Ken is able to tailor each cruise to the specifications and interests of guests; be that a romantic sunset cruise, dolphin & wildlife adventure for the kids or weekend charters to Jekyll, Cumberland and St. Simons Island.

Sunset cruises, day sail cruises, historic tours, dolphin watch/nature cruises, weekended charters, sailing lessons.

Captain Ken Peckham

(678) 480-8647

Shallow Water Charters

Inshore fishing and marsh hen hunting (when in season)

Captain Drew Howell

1386 Sea Way NE
Townsend, GA  31331
912-266-7567

ndrewhowell(at)gmail.com


Two Way Fish Camp

250 Ricefield Way
Brunswick, GA 31525
(912) 265-0410

Lodging

Blue Heron Inn Bed & Breakfast

Blue HeronRecently rebuilt in 2015, The Blue Heron Inn Bed & Breakfast is a luxurious marsh-side retreat. Every room has its own bathroom and stunning view of the coast. In-keepers Bill and Jan Chamberlain offer a naturists paradise!

Located 8 miles from I-95, exit 58 or 49
Darien/Meridian, GA
912-437-4304
blueheroninn(at)darientel.net


BlueHeronInnGaCoast.com

 

Open Gates Bed & Breakfast

Open GatesOpen Gates Bed & Breakfast is located on historic Vernon Square, just one block from the shrimp boats on the Darien waterfront. Open Gates is surrounded by giant live oak and magnolia trees providing a private, relaxed atmosphere for your vacation, getaway, retreat, business trip or special event. Owned by Zachariah and Carrie Rath, they offer a wonderful experience of Historic Darien and boast the 2014 "Sweets to Beat" contest by BedandBreakfest.com.

301 Franklin Street
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-6985
info(at)opengatesbnb.com


www.opengatesbnb.com

The Darien Waterfront Inn

waterfrontThe Darien Waterfront Inn is the perfect destination for exploring everything that the Georgia Coast has to offer. Dining, shopping, kayaking, fishing, boat tours, even a day spa are all steps away from the Darien Waterfront Inn.  At the end of the day, come home to relax and enjoy the view of the Darien River from our spacious deck....

201 Broad Street
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-1215
DarienWaterfrontInn(at)darientel.net
www.DarienWaterfrontInn.com

McIntosh Manor Bed and Breakfast

McIntoshMcIntosh Manor boasts five enchanting rooms to choose from. Since its debut as a B&B, McIntosh Manor has had the pleasure of serving people from near and far. Innkeeper Saundra Kay Leon strives to provide every guest with a memorable stay. Please note a deposit is required to book a room, and 72 hours notice must be given prior to cancellation of a reservation. Now offering space to park your RV.

McIntosh Manor B&B
3330 Ocean Highway
Eulonia / Darien, GA
912-242-2805
912-816-1112
912-661-1784
mcintoshmanor(at)darientel.net
www.mcintoshmanorga.com

Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo
GROUP ACCOMODATIONS

ReynoldsThe Reynolds Mansion is operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and can accomodate up to 29 guests in 13 bedrooms with 11 bathrooms. The Reynolds Mansion is available only for group bookings of 16-29 adults with a two-night minimum.  The mansion is not available for individual guests.

For group information and reservations, please contact Vickie Slack at 912-485-2299.

912-437-3224
www.gastateparks.org/sapelo

Eagle Island
PRIVATE ISLAND RETREAT

EagleUpon arrival at Eagle Island, Guest Services will conduct a brief orientation and then depart, leaving you and your guest(s) alone to explore and enjoy your very own private, ten-acre island! Eagle Island is accessible only by boat, which ensures the utmost privacy and anonymity.  Round-trip boat transportation is provided with each visit.

Eagle Lodge boasts all the modern conveniences and accessories including a state-of-the-art chef's kitchen stocked with kitchen wares, Direct TV, wireless internet, bed and bath linens, a commercial ice machine, and an outdoor fire pit. A six-person hot tub is ingeniously located in front of an outdoor fireplace on the 1500-square-foot, wraparound, screened porch.

Eagle Lodge comfortably sleeps twelve guests. There are two bedrooms with a queen bed in each; the loft has two twin beds that can be converted to a king. There is a 700-square foot master suite located on ground level with a queen bed and two sets of bunk beds (four beds total).

912-222-0801
912-638-0306
hhsouth@adelphia.net
www.privateislandsofgeorgia.com

 

Motel 6

I-95 INTERCHANGE

2201 Georgia Hwy 57
Townsend, GA 31331
912-832-4411
www.motel6.com/en/motels.ga.townsend.4923.html

 

Darien Comfort Inn

Comfort Inn
I-95 INTERCHANGE

I-95 @ Exit 49
12924 Hwy 251
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-4200
800-228-5150
gm.ga266(at)choicehotels.com

www.choicehotels.com/hotel/ga266

Darien Hampton Inn

Hampton Inn

I-95 INTERCHANGE

I-95 @ Exit 49
13003 US Highway 251
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-5558
www.hamptoninn.com

Darien Inn

Quality Inn

I-95 INTERCHANGE

I-95 @ Exit 49
13028 Georgia Highway 251
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-5373
FAX: 912-437-5374

Days Inn Darien

I-95 @ Exit 49
US Highway 251
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-2500
FAX: 912-437-2400
www.daysinn.com

Darien Super 8

Super 8

I-95 INTERCHANGE

I-95 @ Exit 49
912-437-6660
Fax: 912-437-3676
super8.com

Campgrounds

Map to Inland Harbor
Lake Harmony RV Park

Cathead Creek Ranch & RV Park

I-95 - Exit 49
1288 Cox Road SW
Darien/Townsend, GA 31331
912-437-6729
912-437-2441
FAX: 912-437-4423
Bill@CatheadCreekRVPark.com
www.CatheadCreekRVPark.com

Darien Inland Harbor

I-95 - Exit 49
13566 US Highway 251
Darien, GA 31305
912-437-6172
www.InlandHarborRVPark.com

Lake Harmony RV Park

I-95 - Exit 58
1088 Lake Harmony Drive, SW
Townsend, GA 31331
912-832-4338
888-767-7864
info@lakeharmonypark.com
www.LarkHarmonyPark.com

 
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