Take a group of women, get them away from their daily lives, throw in good food and wine, and the odds are it’s going to be amazing. But with more and more women getting together for this kind of travel what makes a girlfriend’s getaway something beyond the ordinary? And where are the best places to go that you may have never considered?
In our first feature on amazing girlfriend getaways we bring you our pick: Eagle Island, part of the Private Islands of Georgia.
Strangers until an hour ago, we weren’t officially girlfriends yet. But with five women together headed to our own private island off the Georgia coast for a few days, I think we all knew that would quickly change. We were adults off to summer camp, except instead of a hot crowded bus in July, we were on a boat in October. And instead of being headed to where we would sleep in musty cabins, we were going to our own private island retreat, Eagle Island, located just 15 minutes away from the small fishing port of Darien.
At that moment on the boat I was most thrilled about my luggage having been already whisked away ahead of us. There would be no unnecessary schlepping with Captain Andy Hill at the helm of both the boat and our visit. As the owner of Private Islands of Georgia, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Hill, in pursuit of his ambitious vision for his small archipelago of islands, doesn’t let things like logistics get in the way of much of anything. Our luggage was small potatoes.
Welcome to Fantasy Island
Coastal Georgia, I’d like you to meet Bali. Do you remember the show Fantasy Island with Ricardo Montlebon, where your visit to Fantasy Island was whatever you wanted it to be? Well I almost expected Ricardo to emerge from the foliage. I’m very glad he didn’t.
Captain Andy tells us that he will be back in a little while to MAKE US DINNER. Now this is my kind of fantasy, and much better than 70s television.
Creature Comforts: Sleepaway Camp was never like this
There are beds with real mattresses. There is a screened porch that wraps around the entire house. Hammocks and comfy chairs are thoughtfully placed wherever you might want to throw yourself. The enviable design scheme blends beautifully with the natural surroundings.
Grocery shopping at Eagle Island is done online, ahead of your arrival. Our refrigerator is full of Heinekens, Diet Cokes and cheese. Giving a bit of the Canyon Ranch touch, plush robes wait in our rooms. There’s camaraderie when you want it; privacy when you don’t. And then there were my two favorite human comforts:
The Outdoor Shower: This is the island’s most notable departure from traditional camping. The outdoor shower is a bit of a shrine to all things wonderful about the feminine love of their bathrooms and toiletries. Equipped with dispensers of tropical scented shampoo, conditioner and soap, again, there will be no schlepping of anything. With the heater function several hours could easily be whiled away here (but you may not really want to do that, because Captain Andy and his crew may be showing up soon to make you lowcountry boil.)
The Bed Swing: I fully intended to spend one nite on this bed swing. I did use it as my office for a couple of hours one day, most of which was spent napping. On the last morning I went here and listened to the bald eagles that live on the island make a morning racket. (Yes, this is how the 10-acre Eagle Island got its name.)
Shellfish. Lots of them.
Any visitor to Eagle Island can arrange to have Captain Andy’s crew come and prepare special dinners that take full advantage of the bounty fished from the local waters. One night we were treated to the Georgia version of Frogmore Stew, Private Islands of Georgia’s Cajun Low Country Boil. With his high regard for melted butter as a major food group and touch of showmanship, Captain Andy’s recipe and preparation technique get a girl’s attention.
During the ongoing shellfish extravaganza we only came in close contact with the stuff of real camping once. That was the time we pulled the crab traps that were baited for us up from the end of the dock, removed the crabs and cooked them ourselves.
As if it could get any better, Andy and crew returned on another night to prepare a traditional oyster roast, with a few of Captain Andy’s own oyster recipes thrown in. Eating around the table in the outdoor kitchen area, it unequivocally was the best meal I’ve ever consumed while standing up.
Activity Schedule, if you must call it that
There were activities and there was a “schedule.” Kind of. One day we were “scheduled” to go on a guided kayak adventure with Captain Dan Grissette. We were told he would show up “sometime in the afternoon.”
We paddled with Grissette over to Escape Island, another one of Captain Andy’s islands. This island is small and intended for real campers – there was a tent set up there and everything. Well-indoctrinated into the Eagle Island lifestyle at this point, we found this concept somewhat interesting and amusing, and then were ready after a few minutes to get back to paddling. And besides, we needed to return to baseglamp – yea, I just made up that word – and get in line for the outdoor shower.
Our visit to Sapelo Island was our biggest off-glampus adventure. We took turns driving the boat over and back to the island where we spent the day.
Nature is there, at a nice distance
There is a rhythm to be pulled into on Eagle Island, and there is really no choice but to let it. I grew to see it as a playground, or a campground with a house with comfy beds and the casual elegance of a nice beach house. Stars were seen; we were just not sleeping right under them. Because we didn’t want to.
If you ever get to Eagle Island you may see the occasional flash from the dorsal fin of a dolphin caught in the sunlight breaking the surface of the quiet marsh waters. The wild boar who inhabit the island may show themselves before they go into hiding in deference to you, the temporary queens of the realm.
Stories, secrets and laughter will be shared. There will be no bossy counselors.
The biggest thing a girl’s getaway on Eagle Island will have in common with the sleep-away camp of youth? How it feels.
*This stay was provided to the writer. This in no way affects the editorial content of this piece.
* All photos by Margo Millure © All rights reserved
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