at the Blue Heron Inn
There is a place just about 90 minutes down the road that feels about as far away as you can get. It is the perfect place to relax and recharge. There is a magic that slowly seeps into your soul. This magic is an organic blend of nature, beauty and friendliness that gently beckons you to cozy up in an Adirondack chair with a front row seat to the best views any bed and breakfast on the Georgia coast has to offer.
“Welcome to the Blue Heron Inn,” owner Jan Chamberlain said, as Michelle Casey and I entered the secluded, beautiful bed and breakfast on the coast in Darien, Georgia. Jan and her husband, Bill, are the innkeepers, who traded in their corporate lives to fulfill a dream. After Bill’s retirement as a research chemist for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Jan and Bill moved to the area from Athens, Georgia, for Jan to accept a labor and delivery nursing position at the hospital in Brunswick. They looked for a place they could call home, as well as operate as a Bed and Breakfast.
They found a piece of marsh front paradise that suited their needs perfectly right outside of the quaint town of Darien, near the ferry landing for Sapelo Island. It was exactly what they were looking for and they set out roots and put their plan into action, opening in 2004. Ten years later, their dream was destroyed by a devastating house fire, which burned the growing bed and breakfast to the ground. The Chamberlain’s were able to find a silver lining in the rubble and rebuilt from the ground up. “The house is now elevated, modern and brand new,” Jan explained. “We were able to redesign it as experienced innkeepers, knowing what guests want. Every room now has a private bath, a king-size bed, a television and individual heat and air units so guests can choose their preferred temperatures. We were also able to include in the rebuild a hospitality center for self-serve coffee, beer, wine, drinks and snacks and every guest room has a deck.”
A Birder and Photographer Paradise:
One of the Blue Heron Inn’s claim to fame is being known as a birder’s paradise. The inn is centrally located along the Colonial Coast Migration Route with more than 300 species of birds migrating through the area annually. With close proximity to both fresh water ponds and the salt marshes, the types of birds that come through are numerous. Jan and Bill have become educated birders and can point guests in the right direction to find the birds they seek. Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge is just a short jaunt away and is a paradise for birders and photographers alike. In addition, one may not even have to leave the inn to get a fabulous feathered show. Bird feeders are set up all over the property and many can be seen from the sprawling windows of the inn. A group of guests were able to spot more than 50 species in January in just two days. Plus, the colorful Painted Bunting will make it’s debut in late March and hang around until September, with its peak season in June. Jan tells the story of one quite serious lady birder who traveled to the Blue Heron Inn to spot the Marsh Sparrow. “She hired different guides and went out several days in search of a peek. Dissappointed, she never saw any. Bill walked her to the dock and asked her to turn on her iPhone with the call of the marsh sparrow. Within just a few minutes she was covered up with the birds and delighted.”
Saturday Nights at the Blue Heron are a big deal!
Every Saturday night Bill builds a big bonfire on the property at the inn. Guests are welcome to follow the twinkling lighted paths down to the waterfront to join in the fireside camaraderie and chatter, watch the moon rise and gaze at the stars. “There’s no light pollution here. The night sky is fantastic,” said Jan. Plus, there are always surprises on Saturday nights, like local musicians showing up to entertain the crowd and neighbors coming around telling tales of old. One never knows who may show up for this community highlight. One night a pair of fire baton twirlers appeared to everyone’s delight.
Things to do:
Groups love coming to the Blue Heron Inn. The Chamberlains have hosted groups from all over the world. One group from Israel comes every year. Bicycling groups find the inn perfect as a launching area to long country roads with little traffic and interesting sights. Most visitors take the ferry over to Sapelo Island for a day at the pristine, secluded beach or to learn more about one of the last true Gullah-Geechee communities in the South. The inn also has bikes, kayaks, porch swings and binoculars that are free for guests to use.
In addition, the happy town of Darien, a quaint waterfront, shrimping village, is just a few miles away. There, we dashed straight to the Waterfront Wine and Gourmet, where we found a wonderful selection of wines, a fun and friendly wine bar, a fabulous selection of cheese trays and wine slushies. You have to go just to taste the wine slushies—as Jimmy Buffet would say, “you can’t even taste the alcohol!” They are yummy and unique! We met numerous “locals,” and discovered many Georgian’s have second homes in Darien and get there as fast as they can every weekend. While downtown, we stopped by Blue Bay Mexican Grill for a delicious dinner and went over to Skipper’s Fish Camp for lunch the next day—a true gem with fresh shrimp right off the boat and casual waterfront dining. For a sunny day in February, all the outdoor seats were full. Downtown Darien is a happening place!
The No. 1 complaint of guests at the Blue Heron Inn is they wish they would have planned more time there. Michelle and I agree. As we were leaving, we were tempted to stay another night. We felt we had only discovered the tip of the iceberg and truly didn’t want to leave the magic behind. We had enjoyed talking with the other guests over breakfast, where we were served gourmet coffee, fresh fruit and open faced fried egg and ham sandwiches. The menu changes daily, and I have heard their Baked Lime French Toast is to die for. We were also offered a piece of Jan’s cream cheese pound cake made from scratch from her grandmother’s recipe.
We walked around the property before getting in the car to leave. As we hugged Jan and Bill goodbye, Jan said, “People come back. They can’t help but come back.” Michelle and I knew exactly what she was talking about.
When You Go:
Blue Heron Inn
1346 Blue Heron Lane SE | Darien, GA 31305
912-437-4304 | www.blueheroningacoast.com
rates: $130-160/night (subject to change)