Five and a half hours outside of Atlanta is an island unlike anything you've ever come across.
Located in McIntosh County, this state-protected barrier island is only accessible by ferry or aircraft. There are no restaurants, no abundance of tourists, and one open business. As desolate as that may sound, the scenery and history of the island make it a must-see destination.
If you want to experience the magic, you can't just pop in on a whim. You have to pre-register to gain access to the ferry. It's actually illegal to show up to the island without registering if you're not a guest of an island resident.
After arriving at the mainland visitor center and dock, you can expect to take the 30-minute boat ride onto the island (unless you'd prefer to take your private jet).
The island is home to a total of about 50 residents who belong to the Hog Hammock community, known at Gullah-Geechees. They're descendants of enslaved African people, who were able to keep many of their traditions alive because of their isolation away from the mainland population.
There's one general store, a library, homes, a bar and two churches within their community. Children have to travel to the mainland to go to school.
Because the island remains generally untouched, the wildlife is abundant. You can easily see dolphins and sharks from the shore. Lizards, frogs, and birds are just a few of the creatures you'll likely run across.
The one main attraction is Reynolds Mansion, the former home of a tobacco heir. The 10 bedroom decadently decorated home has guided tours for $10. It's also one of the only places to stay overnight on the island. If you're planning a largescale event or gathering, the Reynolds Mansion can fit up to 29 people.
Prices range from $175-$225 per person, per night. There's a minimum two-night stay.
After you hit the mansion, visiting the 1820s lighthouse and Cabretta Campground should be next on your to-do list. Whether you spend a few hours on the island or a few days, you'll definitely experience tranquility and peace.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.