With about 100 miles of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean between South Carolina and Florida, Georgia has some excellent beaches. Add on the small barrier islands just off the coast and state parks and mountain resorts with fine beaches and inland lakes, and you’ve got plenty of beach destinations to choose from for your ultimate summer getaway. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but don’t worry because we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10. And whether you choose a Georgia vacation rental on the romantic streets of Savannah or you prefer the nightlife in Atlanta, we promise there’s a beach for you.
1. Tybee Island
Tybee Island lies just south of the South Carolina border and is just a short drive away from Savannah. Recognized as one of Georgia’s finest beaches, Tybee Island is known for its wide beaches, a scenic lighthouse, and family-friendly atmosphere. The island’s history dates back to when Savannah residents went to Tybee’s South Beach in their finest clothes for social activities. Now, it’s most popular for the traditional beach like swimming and water sports. The quieter North Beach is great for beachcombers, and lively South Beach also attracts visitors for its hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. While you’re here, check out the lighthouse near the beach which helps direct sailors to Savannah Harbor and keeps an eye out to see dolphins gliding through the water.
2. Jekyll Island
Another one of Georgia’s top beaches, Jekyll Island features 10 miles of shoreline. The island is famous for its sea-turtle nests and is popular for water sports like snorkeling and fishing. At the north end of the island, you’ll find Driftwood Beach. Over the years, erosion consumed trees and vegetation, leaving eerie stumps, root systems, and driftwood. Bring your camera, because you’ve never seen anything like it. Farther south, the wide, sandy beach of Central Dunes Beach attracts many swimmers and sunbathers. It’s also a popular family destination and is close to many island resorts and hotels.
3. St. Simon’s Island and Little St. Simon’s Island
St. Simon’s Island sits just off the coast from Brunswick and is a large commercial center in southern Georgia. The most popular beach here is the family-friendly Massengale Park. The hard-packed sand allows for easy bike riding, and the are plenty of opportunities for water sports. A great destination for beachcombers and bird watchers is East Beach, and those looking for a quiet getaway will love Little St. Simon’s Island Beach. This tranquil island is only accessible by boat only allows 32 people to stay at any one time. It’s popular for day trips with activities including kayaking, hiking, and biking. More even more exciting excursions, the Coastal Encounters Nature Center offers barrier island ecology walks and kayak excursions.
4. Cumberland National Seashore
A few miles north of the Florida state line, Cumberland Island National Seashore offers two of Georgia’s finest beaches. The island is only accessible by ferry, which enables the park service to limit the number of people at the park. That means a quieter and more private beach experience for you! At the southern end of the island, Sea Camp Beach offers restrooms, swimming areas, and camping. Stafford Beach is near a wilderness area and attracts beachcombers because the high surf from storms produces treasures such as coquinas, disc clams, moon snails and shark’s teeth. The best part of this island, however, is the wild horses running freely on the beaches.
5. Sapelo Island
Another one of Georgia’s 15 barrier islands, Sapelo is both ecologically and culturally rich. Reach the island by a short, 30-minute ferry ride, then take a tour to learn about the local history and wildlife. Many slaves were brought to Sapelo in the early 1800’s to work the plantations, and some of their direct descendants still live on the island. Stay overnight at the R.J. Reynolds Mansion which provides overnight accommodations for groups, or choose one of the many available vacation rentals.
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6. Sea Island
Sea Island is one of the four islands that make up what is known as the Golden Isles of Georgia, and there’s something about this island that’s absolutely timeless. Now known as one of Georgia’s most upscale beach destinations, this island offers nature, tradition, comfort, and Southern charm. Much of Sea Island is residential, so most of the action centers around The Cloister often honored as one of the world’s great hotels with a golf club, beach club, gun club, horseback riding, and fine dining.
7. John Tanner State Park
Georgia’s best inland beach earned the number 7 spot on this list. John Tanner State Park lies in far west Georgia and features a lake with a large, sandy swimming beach. Other activities include boating, pedal boating, fishing and miniature golf, and hikers can follow a trail around the lake to explore the surrounding wooded areas. If you’d like to stay overnight, there are camping facilities at the park as well as lodging near the beach.
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8. Wassaw Island
Wassaw Island, south of Tybee Island is a great chance to experience untouched beaches and landscapes. It was designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1969 and still maintains much of its primitive character. In addition to beaches with rolling dunes, there are live oak and slash pine woodlands and vast salt marshes. Wildlife viewing and photography are among the most popular activities here, but visitors also enjoy cycling, hiking, fishing, and hunting.
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9. Nanny Goat Beach
Nanny Goat Beach, on Sapelo Island, had to be featured on its own, and for good reason! This beach features pristine, white sand with wild sea oats blowing softly in the wind. You and your family will have the time of your lives gathering seashells, building sand castles, or lounging under a beach umbrella. There are also plenty of chances to see a variety of birds and wildlife.
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10. St. Andrews Beach
Last, but certainly not least, on our list is St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island. Known as one of the most family-friendly beaches in Georgia, St Andrews has trails for horseback riding and is also close to the Summer Waves Water Park. It’s a short walk from Jekyll point and a popular spot for watching migratory birds and groups of dolphins. For the best view, the picnic area features a two-story wildlife viewing platform.
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