Cabin Bluff Lodge:
Luxury Hunting and Fishing on
South Georgia's Cumberland River
(Cabin Bluff, a hunting and fishing lodge for the rich and famous in past times, today welcomes travelers to enjoy its intimate lodge experience and on site outdoor activities.*)
By Gregory D. McCluney
If you’ve ever wondered how the rich and famous Southerners and Easterners of the 1920s and 30s enjoyed their pursuit of the sporting life, Cabin Bluff, a Cumberland River retreat in southern Georgia, is a snapshot into the past.
(Cabin Bluff, amid southern Georgia's woodlands, makes a great getaway for outdoor lovers.*)
In fact, President Calvin Coolidge and the most powerful men of politics and industry were frequent visitors.
Established in 1928 by auto magnate Howard Coffin, Cabin Bluff was a world-class hunting and fishing destination. It was designed to pamper those who could afford the privacy, luxury and comfort of city amenities in a rustic style among the pines and palms.
Only seven miles north of the Florida state line and north Florida’s Fernandina Beach, it lies in the middle of one of the largest remaining undeveloped Southern coastal forests in the U.S., along the Cumberland River.
Those arriving are greeted by a 14-foot alligator mounted overhead in the lodge, shot by former Cabin Bluff owner, Alfred Jones, Jr., on his honeymoon in 1930.
In the lodge's public rooms, you'll discover many pictures of powerful men of the era enjoying hunting and fishing on the property.
But Cabin Bluff -- much like those who frequented it in the past -- has evolved. First, it's now open to the public and corporate meetings.
Yet with room for only 40 guests in 20 cabins with private baths, the feeling of privacy and service remains.
Technology is alive and well here, though. Satellite television and Wi-Fi have been added to all rooms.
Cabin Bluff also offers a 1700-square-foot conference room for meetings, a pool house, and the Coolidge Tavern for socializing and personal dining.
Cabin Bluff was originally built for hunting. This private reserve of more than 24,000 acres is most notable for its quail hunting.
Sportsmen will hunt in pristine, private fields accompanied by expertly trained “Steady to Wing and Shot” pointer hunting dogs.
The Labrador retrievers then flush and retrieve the birds. Guests may also pursue a trophy deer, turkey or even a wild boar.
Novices are welcome to give it a try, with guides and instruction (shown at left*) for their first hunting experience.
Cabin Bluff has received a One Trident rating for its upland bird hunting by the Beretta Trident Program.
Fewer than 5 percent of hunting destinations around the world have such an endorsement.
An impressive kennel of hunting dogs are kept on site, ready to hunt.
Even so, some hunters prefer to bring their own dogs, which are just as welcome as their owners.
Fishing the Cumberland River Area
Long known for the abundance of species, the Cumberland River area offers those who love to fish a chance at redfish, bluefish, sea trout and tarpon.
Guided charter trips are available for inshore and offshore angling. In fact, you can have a lot of fun just fishing from the Bluff’s dock, especially under the lights at night.
Care to sharpen your shooting skills on the clays? Cabin Bluff doesn’t just put you on a stand for pull after pull.
The lodge has laid out a 13-station course so shooters move to different shooting situations.
Water hazards, platforms and shooting angles change with each move, making for a much more challenging and interesting shoot.
And there’s hands-on supervision at all times, for novice or pro.
Golf: The Most Unusual Course you May Ever Play
The previous owners of Cabin Bluff were golfers par excellence who owned and operated several high profile private golf courses and clubs in the Southeast.
So, for their own private golf at Cabin Bluff, the owners called on PGA Tour professional Davis Love III who, after touring the property, came up with a very unusual design.
There are six greens, each played three distinct ways, giving the golfer a unique 18-hole experience. Each tee gives a different perspective through the use of bunkers, water hazards and waterfront fairways that lend a challenge to any duffer.
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning the course, here’s your chance.
The Great Outdoors
If you don’t hunt, fish or golf, you will still find a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy at Cabin Bluff. Get on the water and float a kayak, hike through the woods, borrow a bike (provided) and hit the trails.
Guests also might take a swim in CB’s lap pool, or play a game of tennis or bocce ball.
Or, just a half hour away by boat, you can view wild horses (as shown below*) and explore dunes and beaches on Cumberland Island.
Dining: Something special at the Coolidge Tavern
Dinner and a social hour are on tap each evening at 6 p.m. in Cabin Bluff's Coolidge Tavern, a separate structure from other parts of the lodge and guest cottages.
While the bartender fixes your favorite beverage (preferences are always remembered on your next visit), the chef brings out the evening’s selection of hot and cold appetizers, served at the bar.
While enjoying a cheese plate and nuts, guests might mix and mingle with others also staying at the property.
During our visit, a large platter of fresh local shellfish (shrimp, crayfish and mussels) was presented, followed by hot calamari.
On another visit, we enjoyed hot chicken wings, additional cheeses and pate with small toasts.
Allergies, and food preferences are always covered ahead of your visit, so no one is served something they don’t like to or can’t eat.
The presentation is never rushed.
Moving on from the bar, guests sit down to dinner with a choice of salads, soups and such entrees as Cornish game hen, prime rib, filet of beef or fresh, local fish.
Wines are open, breathing and waiting on the table. Best of all, they're included in the nightly rate. Premium wines are available for an extra fee.
Vegetables and hot breads complete the dinner presentation. It’s all very personal, as it should be in such a setting.
(A Cabin Bluff dinner presentation is shown at right.*)
And the chef visits each table throughout the meal to make sure everyone is happy.
After a choice of fresh desserts of the day, coffees and/or liquors, our chef was back. Was someone unhappy? Not at all.
The chef was involving the guests in the next day's menu plan. He wanted to assure all guests had a pleasing dinner they would enjoy.
Exploring Cumberland Island and the Historic Greyfield Inn
Although you must plan ahead and get permission to visit from the U.S. National Park Service, as only 300 persons per day are allowed on the island.
Cumberland Island (shown in the photo above*) is Georgia’s largest and most remote barrier island. It’s also home to the island’s most famous attraction, the feral horses who have roamed the island for almost 500 years.
In 1972, much of the island was designated a National Seashore, saving it from future development.
Accommodations are limited to the historic Greyfield Inn, built in 1901. The property is accessible only by boat from Fernandina Beach, FL.
Described by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as "Tara by the Sea," Greyfield must be booked separately from Cabin Bluff, as there is no affiliation between the properties.
Built in 1900 as a home for Lucy and Thomas Carnegie’s daughter, Margaret Ricketson, Greyfield was opened as an inn in 1962 by Margaret’s daughter, Lucy R. Ferguson.
Greyfield Inn (shown in the photo above*) remains furnished much as it was at the turn of the century, with some contemporary amenities to increase guest comfort.
Surrounding the inn are more than 1,000 pristine acres. After enjoying a full, Southern breakfast, guest can go out and explore, with a chance to spot almost 300 species of birds that visit the island each year.
Along with the wild horses that roam the island, other wildlife that might be spotted are deer, bobcat and armadillos.
Guests can swim, shell the white sand beaches, bike and hike, often without seeing another guest. Picnic lunches are prepared for guests to enjoy while exploring.
Dinner at Greyfield
Dinner at Greyfield is somewhat of a formal affair. Guests dress for dinner, and after cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres, guests descend the stairs to the candlelight dining room set much as it might have been in Victorian times.
With an aura of the Old South, dinner is a fine affair. It's leisurely paced with lots of conversation about the day’s activities and wildlife sightings.
Wines are available from the inn’s ample cellar and reasonably priced, considering it’s the only bar on the island.
The other mansions on the island are open only by the National Park Service for tours, and some are still private properties owned by America’s wealthiest citizens.
Each morning, an island nature tour is offered for guests and visitors alike; it includes stops to see island highlights and receive a historical overview.
Remember to book the Greyfield far in advance if you want to sample the Cumberland Island experience.
With only a handful of rooms and two cottages to be had, it’s a unique travel experience only a few will ever experience.
For More Information
Cabin Bluff: www.cabinbluff.com
Greyfield Inn: www.greyfieldinn.com
U.S. National Park Service (Cumberland Island): http://www.nps.gov/cuis/index.htm
Gregory D. McCluney is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. Greg specializes in the world of food, wine, travel and the outdoors. He writes regularly for numerous publications and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, Society of American Travel Writers and Society of Wine Educators.
Photos used above are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of Cabin Bluff, the U.S. National Park Service, Greyfield Inn and Gregory D. McCluney. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.