One of the most rewarding items for regular cruisers on the Atlantic ICW is revisiting their favorite stops each year, especially if those stops are directly on the ICW. But some of the most interesting places are a little off the “magenta line.” Taking the time to reach these places will reward those who make the effort.
St. Marys, Georgia, located 4.5 nautical miles west of the ICW at the Georgia- Florida border, is one of those stops worth the detour.
Settled on a scenic bend in the St. Marys River, this historic town has made the most of its riverfront location. It is the gateway city to nearby Cumberland Island National Seashore. The seashore’s visitor center, museum and ferry terminal are located in the center of town. The seashore covers most of Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest barrier island. With almost 10,000 acres of preserved habitat, the island contains numerous distinct ecological areas, giving it the greatest biodiversity of any of the southeast coast barrier islands.
The island also tells the tale of man’s use for more than 4,000 years, from the first Indian residents to the plantation era, and is still marked by the ruins of Gilded Age mansions.
Cumberland Island alone could be enough to draw any outdoor or history enthusiast to St. Marys, but it is only one of St. Marys’ many treasures. Also located nearby is the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, one of only two Trident submarine bases in the world. To learn more about the base and the town’s history with the submarine fleet, visit the St. Marys Submarine Museum. Located on the waterfront, the museum is a tribute to the “Silent Service,” the ships and the men who serve aboard them.
St. Marys rewards visiting boaters with so much more. Less than a 20-minute bike ride from the waterfront, boaters have access to most needs, including hardware, pharmacies, groceries and personal care services. You’ll also find some of the friendliest folks of any town along the waterway. When visiting, it is not uncommon for a resident to offer you a ride to the store or to give you a tour of the area.
Holidays are a special time for cruisers in St. Marys. A cruisers’ potluck dinner is hosted by the Riverview Hotel every Thanksgiving, with side dishes contributed by the cruisers and the turkey provided by the hotel. The hotel is located on the waterfront at 105 Osborne Street.
If you visit just once, St. Marys might become a regular detour you look forward to repeating every year.
Where to Dock
- Lang’s Marina – Located on the historic St. Marys waterfront, Lang’s Marina allows you to indulge in the coastal life without giving up the small-town experience. Amenities include electric, shower facilities, fuel and provisions.
Where to Dine
- Lang’s Marina Restaurant – (307 St. Marys St. W.) After docking at Lang’s Marina, stick around for a bite at the onsite restaurant. Owner and veteran shrimper Calvin Lang creates a unique environment with stunning views and delightful fare.
- Riverside Cafe – (106 St. Marys St.) For easy access to waterfront dining, directly across from the Cumberland Island ferry, stop by Riverside Cafe´. Known for its friendly service and Greek-inspired cuisine.
- St. Marys Seafood & More – (1837 Osborne Rd.) Decked out in maritime de´cor, St Marys Seafood & More is a cruisers’ haven. Sample the melt-in-your-mouth chowder, or go for the Gator Tail if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Blue Goose Cafe – (126 Osborne St.) This unconventional hostel set slightly inland o ers both overnight accommodations and serves as the local co ee and wine joint.