Located in the Golden Isles of Georgia, St. Simons is the largest of the chain's barrier islands, and you'll fall hard for this magical slice of the South -- especially if you love small-town America, grand old oak trees draped with delicate Spanish moss, marsh landscapes and beach dunes.
The island's history reaches much further back than the dawn of the United States. Experts believe that Guale and Timuca Indians lived here around 3000 B.C. and in the 1500s Franciscan priests and Jesuits arrived before the English descended in the 1700s. While the Spanish tried to take the island, they were unsuccessful. The region grew with cotton plantations, timber farms and mills. After the Civil War, many African-Americans that were freed from enslavement stayed in the area. You can see what life was like before the war at Hamilton Plantation with tours of its former slave cabins.
These days a tight-knit community resides on St. Simons, and tourists visit year-round for sun-drenched beaches, excellent boating and fishing, biking, bird-watching and so much more. Alas, some cruise lines combine a stop here with the equally compelling Jekyll Island; both are worth a full day in their own right.
--By Andrea M. Rotondo, Cruise Critic contributor