A Private Island Escape

Fantasize about escaping your hectic life? Realize that dream on Eagle Island, located off the Georgia coast. The 10-acre island estate boasts an upscale lodge and is surrounded by 2,000 acres of salt marsh. Peace and quiet, indeed.

One of nine properties that comprise The Private Islands of Georgia, a vacation rental company owned and operated by Captain Andy Hill and his wife Shannon, Eagle Island is situated in one of the most secluded regions on the Atlantic Coast. "Eagle Island has the best backyard in America," says Hill, and while facing the spectacular vista it's hard to argue with him. Though just a 10-minute boat ride from Darien, Eagle Island offers true seclusion.

The 100-mile long Georgia coast, which is the westernmost coast on the nation's eastern seaboard, boasts 1,600 back barrier islands and houses one-eighth of the east coast's and one-twelfth of the nation's total marshland. The opportunity to exclusively call an island in this area home for a few days provides an escape like no other.

In the salt marsh distinctions between water and solid surfaces blur: Earth and water mingle to create a muck that houses dozens of creatures and plants that in turn nourish dozens more. Sightings of blue herons, egrets, bald eagles, otters, alligators, dolphins and deer are common. The scenery shifts with each incoming and outgoing tide.

Within this environment, Hill's objective is to provide guests with top-rate hospitality. Ineligible for five-star designation, since certain elements common in the world's finest hotels (like 24-hour room service and a high staff-to-guest ratio) don't translate to a private island lodge, "We self-designated as five-moon," says Hill, who has been hosting guests on Eagle Island for more than eight years. "We'll customize for each guest's needs," he says. Need extra kayaks? Paddling lessons? A stocked refrigerator and pantry upon arrival? A private chef? Hill's recipe for low country boil? Camping gear? No problem. Simply tell him what you need when booking your stay and he'll make all the arrangements.

Eagle Island is secluded, but absolute isolation is optional since cell phone service reaches the island and the lodge is equipped with wireless high-speed Internet and satellite TV service. And since Eagle Island is only accessible by boat, each stay includes round-trip boat transportation. (Of course, guests with their own boat can come and go as they please.)

Comfortably designed and furnished to sleep up to ten, Eagle Island Lodge offers two bedrooms on the main floor, a bedroom loft, and a basement bedroom with its own private entrance. There are two full baths plus an outdoor shower, an indoor kitchen equipped with professional-grade appliances plus an outdoor kitchen stocked with a huge boiling pot, steamer, smoker and grill. The great room features cypress-paneled walls and floors, vaulted ceilings and a handcrafted stone fireplace. Leather and teak furnishings invite relaxation, as do the wrap-around screened porch with hot tub and fireplace.

Many construction materials and décor items are what Hill calls "salvaged treasures." For example, the front door of the Eagle Island Lodge was previously on a house built on Sea Island in 1940, some bricks were salvaged from an old hotel in Brunswick, heart pine lumber was recovered from an old cotton gin near Darien, dead cedar trees found floating in the Darien River were used to construct an arbor, and a bow pulpit from a boat has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind oyster shucking table.

"We're sort of like a B&B," says Hill, explaining that staying at Eagle Island Lodge feels like visiting a friend's house more than a hotel. "But you'll be the only guest."

On Eagle Island, tides measure time. Options abound to savor each minute: Soak in the hot tub, linger in the outdoor shower or cuddle in front of the fireplace. Play horseshoes. Sing songs around a bonfire. Explore the surrounding marsh by kayak or rent a motorboat to visit Sapelo Island and collect shells on Nannygoat Beach. Take a nap. Stage a ping-pong tournament. Wander the hiking trails and take photos. Read a book. Swing on the porch swing. Do nothing. The choice is yours.

Photos by: The Private Islands of Georgia and Richard Johnson

If You Go…

Private Islands of Georgia
Eagle Island rental rates start at $400/night for 2 guests, 2-night minimum.