Your own private island — Eagle Island is the perfect getaway for a group of friends, family
By Peter Covino
Sometimes it really does feel like a rat race and the rats are winning.
Maybe it’s time to get off that tread mill and slow down a bit, or maybe just let things come to a screeching halt and go to your own little island getaway.
Geographically, Eagle Island is just a tiny dot in a sea of water off of Georgia’s southern coast. But this 10-acre paradise is just what the doctor ordered if you need a prescription for a laid-back lifestyle and an escape from reality.
Eagle Island is only a four-hour drive (and a short boat ride) from Central Florida, but it is a million miles away from life in the fast lane.
The center-piece on the island is Eagle Lodge, a rustic “cabin” with all the conveniences of home, if home includes a hammock on a wraparound porch, a hot tub for six and indoor and outdoor fireplaces.
Indoors, the lodge comfortably sleeps 12, if you just hate to be alone. But when you rent the lodge, the island and home are yours, and there is a really good chance that you won’t see another person during the entire length of your stay.
The one person you might want to see though is Andy Hill, the man responsible for Eagle Lodge, who is both the proprietor and owner of the Private Islands of Georgia, of which Eagle Island, is just one of the island getaways.
Hill bought Eagle Island in 1998 and expanded his investment to include several other barrier islands through the years. (When you book a stay on Eagle Island, you can also explore the other islands as well).
Hill built the lodge (and another private island home set to open later this year) himself. Almost all of the materials are antique and historic materials from buildings that have already been demolished or that were soon to have a date with a wrecking ball.
Building a home on a barrier island is no small feat. It took two years and some 370 boat trips to build the lodge.
The trip to Eagle Lodge actually begins in the small picturesque town of Darien, Ga. Captain Andy (he really is a captain among other things) or someone else from the guest services team, will take you by boat through the coastal marshes, further and further from civilization.
Distance wise, it really isn’t very far, about a 20-minute ride, but as you approach the dock on Eagle Island, the mainland quickly will become a distant memory.
You really are on island time. There is no need for a watch or an alarm clock.
It is a short walk from the dock and pathway that lead to the house. All along the way there are little detours created by Hill — from the boardwalk you can see many of his creations, all part of the landscape he has created from salvaged materials.
It’s only been a few minutes, but you will probably already begin to understand why this small island was named one of the 50 Best Getaways by Outside Magazine.
There is a lot to explore around the lodge (a pond, fire pit, trails, fishing and crabbing opportunities) but there is no hurry. Time really does slow down here.
Your guide will show you some of those exterior amenities — like that six-person hot tub located right in front of the outdoor fireplace or the outdoor shower (with sink and heater) just right for two.
Downstairs is where you will also find the outdoor kitchen — which comes equipped with a smoker, oyster steamer, low country boil cook station, prep table and sink.
All that is missing are the crabs (which you can catch yourself along the dock, where the bait and traps are provided). You can also try your luck at fishing on the dock (bait and tackle are provided for fishing as well).
If your fishing skills prove to be no threat to the fish, Hill’s staff can stock the lodge fridge with fresh oysters, shrimp and more. You can place your order ahead of time and they will pick it up and it will be waiting upon your arrival. The islands’ website, www.privateislandsofgeorgia.com, includes a how-to on having your own low country boil on the outside cooking station.
Inside, there also is a modern kitchen (fully stocked with kitchen wares). For an extended family or just a group of friends, cooking meals is one of the really nice things about a stay at Eagle Lodge. If you already like to cook, you will have a great time or maybe you will discover the hidden chef who has been just searching for the right outlet.
It’s a nice-sized kitchen so whether you are just put in charge of peeling potatoes or minding the soup, there is plenty of room for all the chefs in your group.
If you get kicked out of the cooking circle, you can just have a glass of wine in the hot tub with the other slackers in the family and wait for dinner to be served.
While a trip to the island is most definitely a getaway, there is nothing primitive about the lodge. There are two nicely furnished bedrooms and a loft as well as a downstairs rec room with bunk beds (a great place for the kids).
If you have to keep up with the outside world, other indoor amenities include TV (with lots of channels), DVD player, and wireless Internet. But if you really want to avoid everyone on the mainland, you can always lie and say there is no phone service or Internet.
Because there is absolutely no schedule on Eagle Island, you just eat, sleep, eat some more and then take a nap.
But if you prefer, you can do some exploring as well.
There are kayaks available for trips around the island and to the other nearby islands as well. Or you can rent a pontoon boat to explore the other islands and beaches as well as the intracoastal waterway.
You don’t even have to leave the island to spy an eagle or two flying high above or head on out to the dock and watch the sunset.
Once the sun goes down, a cool south Georgia night means it’s a great time for a fire — in the outdoor fireplace and a dip in the hot tub.
After dinner, it’s time for an even bigger fire at the fire pit, which is right next to the pond (the firewood for both fireplaces and the pit is already conveniently stacked).
Eagle Island is best appreciated by a group and there are various packages available such as a Guys’ getaway, Girls’
Getawayl; Weekend Getaway; Full Moon Getaway or the more intimate Anniversary or Honeymoon Getaways.
The Guys’ Getaway, for example, for two is $475 per weekday night ($575 per night weekends) for two people. You can bring the gang, up to 12 people for $600 per weekday night (two-night minimum).
The Guys’ Getaway Package includes:
Two Eagle Island Caps
Private Islands of Georgia large cooler tote
Five-moon barbecue sauce (32 oz).
Private Islands of Georgia Coastal Information Binder
Two Private Islands of Georgia Koozies
Five pounds of Wild-Caught Georgia Shrimp
Smoked Boston Butt (chopped)
And Two decks of cards.
The Girls’ Getaway Package includes:
The Cap, tote, barbecue sauce and koozie plus
Two bottles of champagne
Five pounds of wild-caught Georgia Shrimp.
Package rates also available for six nights and even 12 nights.
All rates do not include an additional 5 percent hotel/motel tax and cleaning fees.
Other options include boat rentals (to explore the other islands).
Capt. Andy Hill can give you more information on any package offering or even customize one to fit your personal needs at 912-222-0801.
You can find a lot more information on Eagle Island and the other Private Islands of Georgia at the website www.privateislandsofgeorgia.com. The website also includes videos of photo tours of the island, lodge and more.