Pack like a pro with these insider tips.
1. Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Georgia Coast andOkefenokee, by Richard J. Lenz. Usedcopies of this out-of-print 1999 guidebook are available, andthe entire text is available online: sherpaguides.com/georgia/coast.The book uses history (told concisely and with a lively touch) toconvey a vivid feel for Georgia's varied coastal destinations, fromthe posh "cottages" and civilized beaches of Jekyll Island to thehardscrabble marshfront towns strung along the mainland.
2. An electronic navigation device or a good map. Once youget off I-95 or U.S. 17, you can easily get lost on the winding,intermittently marked secondary roads.
3. Tide tables. Because of the shape of the coastline andthe seafloor, Georgia has some of the country's highesttides―up to 9 feet. Be wary of strong currents as the tidesebb and flow.
4. Beach gear. But only if you're visiting the islands.Georgia possesses no mainland beaches to speak of. Bridges linkfour of Georgia's islands to the mainland: Tybee and St. Simons,which are developed and mostly residential; Sea Island, a privateresort community; and Jekyll, a state park that's both residentialand tourist-oriented. Little St. Simons is a nature-oriented resortisland, and Cumberland is largely a national seashore withcontrolled access.
5. An appetite for seafood. Trawlers harvest tons of freshshrimp just off the coast. For suggestions about where to sampleit, see the list of our favorite Georgia "seafooddive" restaurants.
6. Poems of Sidney Lanier. Generations of Georgiaschoolchildren grew up reciting Lanier's "The Marshes of Glynn," anode to the grassy shallows that fringe most of Georgia's coast. The19th-century poet's romantic style may seem over-the-top today, buthis love for the landscape of his native state still shinesthrough. Buythe book, or download it free here: worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/poetry/PoemsofSidneyLanier/legalese.html.
7. A kayak or canoe. Paddling through the shallow marshesremains the best way to experience their beauty and abundantwildlife. Rent a craft if you don't have your own; you'll findmarinas and outfitters up and down the coast.
8. Insect repellent (spring through fall). Those marshes,though lovely (especially in evening light), do harbor lots ofhungry bugs.
9. Gullah music. The rhythmic sounds of the Gullahs,descendants of African slaves who still inhabit many of Georgia'sislands, can really lift your spirits. Recordings by The GeorgiaSea Island Singers or The Hallelujah Singers may not be easy tofind, but they're worth the hunt.
10. An extra suitcase for antiques. Most of the little townsand rural byways lack significant tourist attractions. Still, youcan usually find a little antiques store or two. Don't expecthigh-dollar treasures, but the bargain prices do make for funbrowsing.
(published October 2006)