Sharks, stingrays and sea turtles! Oh my! Hunt for wildlife on Sea Island

by: Nelson Hicks Updated:

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SEA ISLAND, Ga. - There's no shortage of beach destinations for those in the Atlanta area. With vacation spots in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Georgia all within driving distance, where to vacation isn't always an easy question to answer.

But there's one beach destination that stands above the rest. It's Sea Island on Georgia's coast.

GALLERY: On the hunt for wildlife in and around Sea Island

"It's the best resort in the world,"  Susan Moore said. Moore has been visiting Sea Island with friends the last 14 years.

"We love it," Moore continued. "Today, we started out with a horseback ride on the beach, then we had this fabulous (tennis) lesson and and now we go and I have a golf lesson this afternoon."

GALLERY: Spend the day on Sea Island

Forbes Travel Guide agrees with Moore. This year, it picked 49 properties across the country as five-star resorts. Three of the company's picks are in Georgia, two of them are part of Sea Island. The Cloister on Sea Island and the Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club made the list.

Forbes picks spas and restaurants, too. The Spa at Sea Island was the only spa in Georgia to be given five stars. The Georgian Room restaurant on Sea Island was the only restaurant in the state to earn five stars.

No doubt, there have been countless girls' weekends at Sea Island, enjoying the spa. There have been plenty of guys' weekends spent on one of the three championship golf courses, too. But one of the premises Sea Island was built on over 80 years ago was family.

GALLERY:A five-star escape to The Lodge, Cloister on Sea Island

Ask any parent about a family vacation and they'll note there have to be activities to keep the kids entertained.

"(We have) Camp Cloister and Club Sea Island, 3-12 year-olds, everyday, they come in, we take them swimming (and) we do a craft," Dusty Brown from Sea Island said. "Our older 9-12 year-olds do some sort of activity. We go sailing, (have) shooting school (and) fishing."

There's a movie theater at the resort that shows three or four movies a day. The resort offers themed dinners for kids, too.

For the whole family, there's five miles of private, pristine beaches to explore. Take a dip, search for shells or jump aboard a search for sea turtles.

"We allow guests to come on board and take part in some of the nesting management that we do by finding the nest, sometimes stumbling upon a female, helping to release hatchlings, removing the eggs or moving the eggs to a better location," Sea Island naturalist Kristen Morris said.

Sea Turtle expeditions take place May through October. Sea Island averages between 60 and 80 nests each year.

Those looking for some sporting activities need to look no further than the tennis center. Former French Open doubles champs Luke and Murphy Jensen head the tennis programs. Luke serves as the touring pro while Murphy serves as the Director of Tennis.

There's onshore and offshore fishing opportunities, too. Fish from the Sea Island docks or take part in one of the charter fishing trips. Fish for sharks, stingrays and a wide variety of fish on the two-hour charter. The four-hour charter hunts for trout, flounder, tarpon and bigger sharks. The six-hour trip includes fishing for snapper, grouper and mackerel.

"For the small kids, we want to keep them entertained," Capt. Dooley Miller said. "We want constant action. We want every rod bending so it keeps them entertained and keeps them interested and wanting to come back every year and go fishing again at Sea Island."

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"I don't know of another place where you can go and have the spectrum of activities that you have at Sea Island," Moore said. "It's kayaking. It's sailing. It's skeet and trap. It is walking on the beach and seeing where the sea turtles are laying their eggs. It is such beautiful, beautiful countryside. Again, this is why we've come 14 summers in a row. We just absolutely adore it. There's never a lack of something to do."