Jacksonville March 2015 : Page 22

SAND BETWEEN YOUR TOES King & Prince Resort GEORGIA’S SOUTHERN COAST OFFERS A PAIR OF PEACEFUL RESPITES BY ANGIE ORTH A TALE OF TWO ISLANDS he tidal Hampton River slithers between St. Simons Island, a hub of classic seaside activity, and Little St. Simons Island, a decidedly more rustic destination. These island neighbors are similar in name and close in proximity, but as vacation destinations, they’re quite opposite in their offerings. That said, both are worth exploring. It takes less than 90 minutes to drive from Jacksonville to St. Simons Island , named by Coastal Living as one of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns. With its waterfront village, historic lighthouse, 100 locally owned boutiques and mom-and-pop restaurants, this 18-square-mile island is a haven for snowbirds. Rental homes populate much of the island, but the recently renovated King and Prince Resort is the most storied place to stay. Once borrowed by the U.S. Navy to serve as a watch post during World War II, the 194-room property is home to the only beachfront restaurant on the island, ECHO, which serves coastal cuisine and craft cocktails. With a handful of swim-ming pools overlooking the Atlantic, a gym and spa cottage, it’s an ideal base for exploring the rest of the Golden Isles. What Little St. Simons Island lacks in hubbub, it makes up in serenity, offering the peace only 10,000 acres of private island and seven miles of undeveloped beach can provide. Though it’s just a quick 10-minute boat ride from the Hampton River Marina to The Lodge on Little St. Simons, the outpost feels so off-the-grid, it’s easy to forget that civilization is just around the bend. Like an upscale summer camp, up to 32 guests are accommodated in lodges and cottages, often with fireplaces and wrap-around porches overlooking marsh or wooded wilderness. Adorned with trophy fish and a library with books on local flora and fauna, the Hunting Lodge is the central gathering place for meals, cocktail hour and storytelling about the day’s adventures. The retreat includes everything—boat transportation to the island, accommoda-tions, family-style meals and pour-yourself drinks at the bar, as well as bicycles, kayaks, motorized skiffs, fishing gear, ponchos, sunscreen, insect repellant, planned outdoor activities and nature talks. Day trips are available for those want-ing to explore the island briefly, but to truly experience this isolated stretch of Georgia coastline, a few days are needed. ] What’s more relaxing than a jog on the beach? The inaugural Grand Bahama Half Marathon and Beaches Beats 5K is set to take place in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-28. Activities include the Feelin’ Good Expo, Island Breeze Carbo Load Dinner and the Get Your Groove on Post Race Beach Party. The Grand Lucayan Beach Resort Grand Bahama Island serves as the host hotel, offering special weekend rate packages in conjunction with the event. The race starts at 8:10 AM. Keep in mind stopping to collect shells will only hurt your time. grandbahamahalf.com ] BY COURTNEE JAMES T Catch a wave without stepping into the ocean Dude, one can surf in Florida, but Mother Nature is fickle when it comes to making waves. Fortunately, steady swells are now a four-hour drive from the First Coast. The Boca Raton Resort & Club recently opened South Florida’s first “Flow House,” which features a FlowRider wave simulator for surfing and body boarding. The resort offers surf lessons, watersports and houses the California-themed Shaka Bar & Grill for patrons to enjoy light bites and beverages poolside. The Flow House is open Tuesdays through Sundays and sessions range from $25 to $55. Riders must sign a waiver and be at least 42 inches tall. bocaresort.com ] BY COURTNEE JAMES SWELL RIDE 22 | JACKSONVILLEMAG.COM MARCH 2015

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