The slow, sun-dipped beauty of Georgia's sea islands achieves a sort of wilderness apotheosis on Sapelo Island, a patchwork of salt marsh, estuarine rivulets and coastal forest that is only accessible by plane or boat. Four thousand years ago, the island was home to indigenous people, and in the 16th century, a Franciscan mansion was built here. Some 97% of the island is owned by the state and managed by Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Around 50 locals live in the village of Hog Hammock; most are descendants of enslaved Africans who worked the island's plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries. These descendants are known as Geechee or Gullah-Geechee, a nod to the cultural ties they share with the Gullah in neighboring South Carolina.
Visitors to Sapelo must arrive on prearranged tours or be guests of Sapelo Island residents (the latter includes staying in an island hotel or guesthouse).