The trip to South End Beach takes you down Hell Hole Road. Full of potholes and the occasional hog wallow, it’s quite rough.
I can understand why early settlers thought it hellish but it was paradise to me, an undisturbed maritime forest highlighted by numerous swamps and bogs.
National Register of Historic Places
Since travel here is strictly limited to ecotourism, educational programs, and controlled hunts, and often sold out months in advance, I feel fortunate to have participated in one of the Ossabaw Island Foundation‘s Sea Turtle Walks last weekend.
Besides having access to the architectural landmarks of the North End and seeing the unmatched natural beauty of the island, the trip affords one the opportunity to observe sea turtle research being done here.
Though we didn’t see an active nest, we were able to observe methods used by interns to determine environmental factors affecting species survival. The eggs pictured above were all spoiled.
We were able to watch a rescued hatchling Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) on its return to the sea. Even though this species nests more frequently than other sea turtles, it’s the most critically endangered in the world.
Ossabaw Island’s South End Beach is a 12-mile, hour-long ride away from any semblance of civilization but well worth the difficulty of getting there. From the Main Road we veered onto Hell Hole Road, passing through some of the most ecologically significant mature maritime forests in Georgia. When at last the beach was in sight we followed a short path to the dunes, punctuated by a stand of Cabbage-palms (Sabal palmetto) more reminiscent of Florida than Georgia.
Here are a few views of this pristine place.