A Rare Retreat on the Georgia Coast

Less than an hour’s drive from the Jacksonville airport in Camden County, Georgia, a two-and-a-half mile paved entryway weaves through the Cabin Bluff Resort Property to a visitor’s compound, tucked beneath a canopy of live oaks and mature pines, with expansive views of the Intracoastal Waterway and Cumberland Island National Seashore in the distance. Upon arriving at any of the nine historic guests cabins, some dating back to the 1920s, you might think that short drive led you to another era entirely. After all, recreational use of the land dates back to the 1820s, when it was founded as the Camden Hunt Club. Industrialist and Sea Island Company founder Howard Coffin purchased the property nearly a century later, where he built a hunting retreat, tapped artesian wells, and established a pine turpentine operation. Cabin Bluff quickly became a retreat for the rich and famous, with President Calvin Coolidge among the resort’s notable visitors.

Cabin Bluff has been hosted many prominent figures over the years, including President Calvin Coolidge (left).

Despite the nostalgia that lingers here, Cabin Bluff is fully equipped for the 21st century. The compound is complete with nine cabins, a kitchen/dining hall, tavern, office building with retail store, a conference center, swimming pool and pool house, tennis courts, a six-hole golf course, a 3,500-foot grass airstrip, and a 120-foot deep-water boat dock. Despite the cabins’ rustic charm, the buildings are climate-controlled and furnished, and have been meticulously maintained over the years, with a total guest capacity of 33 beds. All in all, the resort’s 3,250 acres are offered for sale by The Nature Conservancy for $15 million. Now, the resort is being maintained with minimal staff as The Nature Conservancy seeks a buyer willing to take on the property with the possibility of restarting a similar operation.
What kind of operation is that, exactly? “It would be a win/win for this to be an economically viable resort business,” notes The Nature Conservancy’s Wade Harrison. “Various people have suggested that it can be, if managed correctly and for the right clientele. But there are other models, where someone is willing to pay quite a lot for a certain kind of experience and access to nature.”

With access to the Intracoastal Waterway along the Georgia coast, visitors at Cabin Bluff, with its deep-water boat dock and pavilion, enjoy fishing and other water sports.

That access to nature is exactly what The Nature Conservancy is out to preserve, operating with the mission to restore and protect natural ecosystems and to enhance the resilience of coastal Camden County. Outside of the compound area, the resort is home to fire-managed pine woodland and fields, dense pine forests, freshwater forested wetlands, maritime forest, and frontage on tidal marshland. While acquiring the property does come with conservation easement restrictions (for example, buyers cannot build for industrial use or have a commercial marina), buyers are allowed to replace or redesign buildings and operate the property for passive recreational use if they choose to do so.

For nearly 200 years, the property’s 3,250 acres have been a haven for nature and wildlife.

Hunting is allowed, and has been celebrated on the property for nearly 200 years. “That’s a legacy we’re happy to honor, and we have a lot of experience that demonstrates that good hunting habits are good conservation management practices, in most cases,” Harrison says. He notes that the property is home to native deer and turkey ideal for hunting.

Popular pastimes at Cabin Bluff have always included hunting and boating.

Bill Jones, whose grandfather founded Sea Island and owned Cabin Bluff for several decades, hopes to see the property’s legacy live on. “It’s one of the most important undeveloped pieces of land on the coast of Georgia,” Jones says. “It already has all of the amenities built-in—golf, shooting, corporate retreat. It could be a great private club community.”

Throughout the property, visitors find a vast array of wildlife and a rich canopy of live oaks and mature pines.

Both Jones and Harrison are hopeful that, with the help of Lee Walters and Chip Hall at Plantation Services, The Nature Conservancy will find the right kind of buyer for this special piece of Georgia property. “The right kind of buyer is somebody who would respect the history and environmental significance of Cabin Bluff, and take pleasure in the fact that they’re helping preserve and enjoy the natural beauty of the Georgia Coast,” Jones says.

Cabins on the compound.

For more information on Cabin Buff, contact Chip Hall or Lee Walters at Plantation Services at 229.888.2500, or visit plantationservicesinc.com.