It’s 4pm after driving for hours when water and marshland engulf both sides of the road leading to Jekyll Island. A simple billboard advises, “Go with the Flow.” Any trip stress melts away as we check in to the Westin where we previously attended a “Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife Festival.” Memories of the jubilant crowd flitting to culinary stations gives way to the masks and distancing of Covid times. Travel is different these days and we maintain strict safety measures to enjoy it again. Kevin Baker, Director of Sales and Marketing is so sure of safety at his Westin Jekyll Island that his parents are staying here at the same time, their first healthy excursion since the pandemic began. One serious caution we have though – Island time flies. So, book longer than you think you’ll need. We have but two nights and one full day this trip.
We unlock our door to a heavenly oceanside suite. Sweet indeed is the balcony overlooking the beach which is uncrowded yet full of activity. We take in the vibe for a bit then stroll to the beach village adjacent to the Westin. The crooning of guitarist Kyle at Sunfish Café draws us near. It’s happy hour and this is where the locals go. We eye a table outside and then turn to say, “Hey Spencer,” recognizing the pro from Jekyll Island Golf Club. We are right at home and order the fish of the day, Redden, with a newfound sauvignon blanc – Celsius 13. Toddlers dance, doggies pant and retirees all revel with the beat.
Back home at the Westin, we savor the sound of every lapping wave and the brilliance of the full moon reflecting in an hourglass shape on the ocean as ship lights dot the horizon. The sky is clear, the temperature just right and the waves lull us to sleep.
Breakfast on the ocean front veranda of The Reserve Steakhouse offers a Wild Georgia blue crab benedict with seating indoors or al fresco, as people and pampered pooches parade by. Palms and sweet grass wave as seabirds call to announce a surprising eastern sunset for dinner guests. The She Crab soup has just the right amount of sherry and is the perfect portion before a juicy cut of meat or the seared fresh fish with an herb chimichurri and sweet potato chorizo hash.
After breakfast we zip down to Driftwood Beach to gawk for five minutes as we have done before. This time the eerie fog is gone, revealing the wonders of skeletal remains of uprooted trees. We can even see the cargo shipwreck off St. Simon Island. Maybe the third time we visit we’ll drift up and down Driftwood Beach for miles or take chairs, a blanket, picnic and swimsuits, but now we have a tee time to make.
Indian Mounds Golf Course at Jekyll Island Golf Club is low country boiling with beauty. Spanish moss laces the pin oaks amidst the pines, a sanctuary for waterfowl and butterflies. Along with the other 3 courses here, it is underrated perhaps due to the flat, wide fairways. It’s a naturally serene walk with birds flitting, deer prancing and gators on all four courses.
We’ve toured the Jekyll Island Club, but we still drive around to witness the magnificence and watch the croquet players all in whites. Next trip we might check out the Sea Turtle Center and St. Simon Island. We write about island hopping these Golden Isles and we see the bridge from Jekyll. Kevin lives there and a couple friends we know and still, we haven’t crossed over because why? Because there is just so much to do on the State Park Jekyll Island. So, do as we say, not as we do and book a week or more.
Make time for a dolphin watching or sunset Jekyll Island Cruise with Captain Phillip. Walk or bike the many nature trails. While there is so much to explore, the best part of Jekyll is simply hanging out like the Spanish moss and the Westin Jekyll Island is the best place to do that, poolside, on the beach, at the beach village next door or on your balcony, breathing in the views and ocean air. Leaving the island, a flock of pink flamingoes bids farewell from the marsh. You never know what to expect at Jekyll Island, but it is always wonderful.