DRIFTWOOD BEACH, JEKYLL ISLAND – The focal point of my most recent trip to Georgia’s arresting and seductive Golden Isles, is a stretch of beach, maybe the length of two football fields, more or less, where gnarled and weathered tree trunks and skeletal-like limbs attract visitors from distant destinations, especially photographers who can’t get enough of this scenic masterpiece brought about by the back of nature’s hand.
One traveling down the Georgia coast would consider Driftwood Beach icing on the cake—a reminder of what is available to Georgians who want to glory in the inviting landscape that stretches from Tybee to Cumberland Island. Makes you wish that you could actually hug this landscape. Perhaps you can in your mind’s eye.
The allurement of Georgia’s barrier islands is there for anyone with an outdoor bent. It especially attracts photographers and fishing aficionados. Driving down to St. Simons from Savannah, you become enveloped in a reflective mood. The monotonous buzz of traffic on I-95 makes you wish to be out on the water in a small boat amongst our state’s barrier islands—like Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, Little St. Simons and Cumberland. There are 14 in all. Each offers something special. All you need is a boat and boatload of curiosity.
One of the signature views comes when you meander along the final stretch of the Ogeechee River which empties into the Atlantic near Ossabaw Sound. One must make this a destination, but it is only a few miles from the interstate—well worth taking the time to explore our state’s geography at this point.
Then there is Blackbeard Island, named for the famous Bristol born pirate who left the Royal Navy to become a celebrated buccaneer who became the scourge of the Caribbean. He also hung out off the Georgia coast where he raided Spanish galleons of the silver and gold which had been stolen “from the Indian nations.”
In the company of a former Georgia football coach and devout fisherman, John Donaldson, I have fished the lakes on Blackbeard Island and the waters around the barrier island where the famous pirate is supposed to have hidden a lot of the loot he accumulated—but no cache has ever been found. Blackbeard, historians say, often boasted that only he and the devil knew where his treasures were hidden.
We remember Blackbeard for his mean-spirited reputation which you might expect from a man who stood 6-4 with a beard “dark as night,” which was braided into ribbons. There are no witnessed accounts of him being affiliated with violence until he met his end which took place near Ocracoke Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. When he was ambushed on that fateful day, his severed head was hung from the mast. Now, only the devil knows where his treasures are buried on Blackbeard Island.
Georgia’s coast is one hundred miles long which is why there is an environmental advocacy by the name of “One Hundred Miles.” The objective of this tax-deductible society is to make us more aware of the “importance and beauty of coastal Georgia.” Hope you will buy into this objective.
It has always been intriguing that the countless visitors to St. Simons Island, a garden spot if there has ever been one, never make the effort to venture over to Little St. Simons Island, a 10,000-acre private piece of ground, which boasts seven miles of unspoiled beaches. Nature dominates Little St. Simons just as it does at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.
There is bad news when it comes to exploring Driftwood Beach. It would not exist without soil erosion which caused the demise of the trees at the North end of the island.
Perhaps it could be said of nature that when it saw fit to “taketh away,” what it “giveth” in return was to become Driftwood Beach. Most of us would agree that it was a nice trade-off.
Bring your camera and enjoy not only Driftwood Beach, but Georgia’s entire 100 miles of coastline.