Named after Great Britain’s King George II, Georgia is one of the most diverse states in the United States. The state is known for its scenic coastline, immovable mountain peaks, and rich history. Home to Coca-Cola, Georgia seeps of southern charm while you take a walk along the cobblestone streets of Savannah.
The state houses 47 state parks and has countless beaches scattered around its shoreline. Georgia also offers brilliant hiking, rafting, and kayaking opportunities. Chattahoochee River in Columbus is known for its urban white water course which is by far the largest in the world.
I’m a Georgia local so don’t worry I know my way around. Here is my list of the many beach jewels of this historical state.
1. Tybee Island
Located in Chatham County, Georgia, Tybee Island is a city as well as an island in the easternmost end of the state and a popular tourist destination for visitors from Savannah as well as the rest of the world.
Strategically placed near the mouth of Savannah River, Tybee Island was once frequented by pirates. Also known as Savannah Beach due to the closeness of the two town, Tybee is a paradise for birdwatchers. Herons, Egrets, and Osprey can be easily spotted.
The island typically attracts a lot of families and couples who wish to spend their beach holiday relaxing on the smooth sand or biking barefoot around the beautiful beach town. Seafood lovers will especially love the variety and taste of various seafood delicacies around the town.
Several endangered loggerhead turtles nest within the sand around the beach area. I’d recommend visiting tow of the primary attractions, the Civil War Fort and Tybee Island Lighthouse. For activities I’d suggest swimming, kayaking, and other water sports.
2. Cumberland Island National Seashore
The largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Cumberland Island lay mostly within the borders of Cumberland Island National Seashore. The 17-mile-long shoreline comprises of several dunes, freshwater lakes, and marshes.
Interestingly, the island is only reachable by boat. Hiking around the Cumberland Island National Seashore is a major attraction around the area.
Visitors who wish to spend the night can camp on the seashore which also houses the Cumberland Island Wilderness.
The coastline comprises a wide variety of flora and fauna, due to which, the area attracts many wildlife enthusiasts. The park is known to be the home of at least 23 different ecological communities which makes it the largest of its kind among Georgia’s barrier islands.
3. Jekyll Island
Another gem among the many of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island is one of the sea islands of Georgia located in the Glynn County and the smallest of its kind.
The island is quite popular among vacationers and offers guided tours of the adjoining Landmark Historic District.
Biking on surrounding trails, and walking and jogging around the coastline and sandbars are some of the usual activities around the area. The island also houses a water park, the Summer Waves, which is ideal for those traveling with kids.
Additionally, the island has a diverse range of flora and fauna including various mammals, birds, and even reptiles.
Jekyll Island is one of the only four islands in the state to have a paved causeway. There is a modest parking lot and three picnic areas near the northern end of the island.
Related: 15 Amazing Waterfalls in Georgia
4. St. Simons Island
The smallest of Georgia’s Golden Isles, St. Simons Island is on the south-eastern coast, in between Savannah and Jacksonville. Also known as “The East Beach”, the island serves as a residential community as well as a seaside resort.
The island’s warm climate, striking coastline, a plethora of water adventures, natural ambiance, historical sites, and shops and restaurants are some of the major factors that attract visitors from all around the world to this beach retreat. My favorite reason to visit: hiking.
St. Simons Island is also very popular among long-term vacationers and part-time residents.
White-tailed deer, raccoons, alligators, terrapins, marsh rabbits, and both native and migratory shorebirds are a popular sight amidst the vivid landscape of St. Simons Island.
The beach waters of the island see a lot of marine life such as right whales, dolphins, a wide variety of gamefish, and at times even manatee.
Golfing is one of the major sports around the island while hiking, walking, biking, boating, and sailing is also broadly enjoyed.
5. Little St. Simons Island
Among the least developed islands of Georgia’s list of Golden Isles, Little St. Simons Island flaunts a 7-mile-long coastline. The island is located within proximity of St. Simons Island and is distinguished from it by the Hampton River.
Little St. Simons Island is privately owned and anyone wishing to pay a visit must make prior arrangements with the Lodge office. The Lodge also offers all-inclusive day-trips and overnight packages along with guided fishing tours, hiking, biking, kayaking, birdwatching, and historical and ecological tours.
Little St. Simons Island can only be reached by boat. An ornithologist’s nirvana, the island forest is home to over 330 different species of birds including Wood Storks, Red Knots, and Bald Eagles.
Sports fishing is quite a trend in the tidal creeks and can often lead you to score flounders, redfish, and speckled trout. Otters, right whales, and dolphins can be spotted as well.
6. Driftwood Beach
Made famous due to the abundance of driftwood in the area, the Driftwood Beach is located at the northern end of Jekyll Island.
A highly popular site for weddings and photography enthusiasts, Driftwood Beach is a short walk from Jekyll Island and is covered in majestic pine and oak trees scattered around the area.
The beach has been voted as one of America’s ‘Top Ten Romantic Beaches” time and again.
Driftwood beach is very popular among family vacationers and allows pets throughout the year.
Constant soil erosion in the area has led to unfavorable conditions for trees to grow here. which resulted in the creation of a rather eerie yet stunning landscape of conserved and bleached fallen trees.
Related: 15 Amazing Hidden Gems in Georgia
7. Glory Beach
The location of the Academy Award-winning motion picture, Glory, Glory Beach is now a peaceful, tranquil beach paradise. It is hard to imagine that the island has a painful past.
The beach is accessible from the parking lot of the adjoining Soccer Complex. The boardwalk created by the filmmakers during the production of the movie is now a major wildlife spotting point.
The forest area around Glory Beach is home to various wild grass species which nestle finely alongside Russian thistle, and camphor wood.
Come evening, the cool breeze invites various animal species such as deer, raccoons, and several coastal birds. Carry a pair of binoculars if you enjoy observing marine flora and fauna.
8. Gould’s Inlet
Located on the northern point of St. Simon’s Beach, Gould’s Inlet is primarily a birdwatching spot.
Although a popular beach destination, the Inlet is mostly famous for birding, fishing and as an ocean observation zone. The southern end of Sea Island is visible from the Inlet.
Just across Gould’s Inlet, you can see flocks of seabird of different species. You are most likely to spot local fisherman along the beach and the pier fishing for the daily produce.
Stand-up paddle-boarding is a prevalent sport here. The beach location offers several public facilities such as a fishing pier, water hose, showers, community water bowl for pets, and dog bag station. There is limited parking available so I recommend to secure your spot early in the day.
9. U.S. Coast Guard Station
Situated just south of Gould’s Inlet, U.S. Coast Guard Station is the most eminent beach location along St. Simons Island. Titled after the distinguished coast guard station that still stands tall as the Maritime Centre, the Station is often also known as “First Street Beach Access”.
The U.S. Coast Guard Station, irrespective of what it’s called, offers the widest beach area around the entire region of St. Simons Island and necessarily has the biggest parking space.
The Coast Guards Bathhouse located right on the beach area offers various public facilities such as restrooms, showers, picnic areas, water hoses, and bike racks. Grills and playground are also available in the vicinity for visitors.
The adjoining U.S. Coast Guard Station Beachfront Massengale Park is open daily from 6:00 AM till 10:30 PM.
Further reading: 15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Georgia
10. St. Andrews Beach and Picnic Area
Located closely to Jekyll Island, St. Andrews Picnic Area is the perfect gateway to St. Andrews Beach. The surrounding park is a short walk to Jekyll Point.
The beach area is especially famous for its dolphin sightings along with an abundance of a wide variety of shells and a sundry species of the bird population.
St. Andrews Picnic Area is also a site of historical importance and houses The Wanderer Memorial – a dedication to the 400 African slaves who were illegally imported into the country, the last of their kind.
Visitors to the beach can enjoy various amenities and services such as a walking trail, picnic areas, grill sections, public beach access, and restrooms.
11. Nanny Goat Beach
Reportedly the first place in the United States to have been developed by Europeans, Nanny Goat Beach amazes its visitors with its pristine beauty. Wide stretch of sandy beaches, the friendly atmosphere, and the historical significance of the beach area makes it even more special for vacationers.
A part of Sapelo Island, Nanny Goat Beach is best explored via one of the many guided tours around the area. The eastern end of the beach, due to its rolling sand dunes and variety of seagrass, sees most tourists in the area.
The area lacks any kind of tourist facilities which may seem like a drawback, but it also prevents the coastline from commercialization.
The beach’s white sand is the most distinguished feature of the shoreline while the beach waters itself provide great opportunities for swimming and sunbathing. For tours I recommend a fishing expedition or choose to participate in a bird watching tour.
12. Robin Lake Beach and Callaway Gardens
Celebrated as the home to the biggest man-made beach in the world, Robin Lake Beach, Callaway Gardens is located in Pine Mountain, Georgia and is known to attract over 750,000 visitors yearly.
The artificial beach was established in 1952 to conserve the native azalea species. Currently, the Gardens is home to several recreational centers including but not limited to a massive butterfly habitat and the Cason J. Callaway Memorial Forest. Callaway Gardens is also a designated National Natural Landmark.
Callaway Gardens has several walking and biking trails, of which The Discovery Bike Trail is deemed the perfect way to access all tourist attractions.
The Gardens is also famous for hosting the Masters Water Ski and Skateboard Tournament on Memorial Weekend.
13. St. Catherines Island Beach
St. Catherines Island Beach is often considered as the best beach in the state of Georgia by many. Though that can still be questioned, there is no doubt that the 10-mile-long stunningly paradisiacal coastline is every beach and wildlife lover’s dream.
Located in Liberty County just south of Savannah, half of the island is covered with tidal marsh and wetlands. Notwithstanding the beach during the daylight hours, the rest of the area is not open to the public.
Owned by the St. Catherine Island Foundation, most of the island is aimed at conservation of endangered flora and fauna and protection of historically significant sites.
Swimming, day picnics, and beachcombing are quite popular among the visitors in the area.
More on Georgia: Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Georgia
14. John Tanner State Park and Beach
Named after a local businessman, John Tanner, the state park is home to the largest sand beach in the state of Georgia.
Situated amidst Carrolton and Mount Zion, the park is a former state park with a unique history.
The Park has two lakes, one of which houses the famous Tanner’s beach. It also is perfect for campers as the park has a full-functional campground with 32 tent, RV, and trailer camp spots, and cable, electric, and water hook-ups. There is also a dumping site for campers.
Tanner’s Beach is huge but the region’s popularity among campers also makes it too crowded for those looking to spend a lazy, relaxed afternoon by the beach. The trail encompassing the lake is great for hiking and biking.
15. Cabretta Beach
Situated north of Nanny Goat Beach is this remote slice of beach haven known as Cabretta Beach. Being the northernmost beach on Sapelo Island, it is often withdrawn and filled with serenity.
A stroll down the shoreline will reveal several tide pools as well as sand dollars and conch shells.
A short distance ahead lays the capacious Cabretta Campground which is your ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of a regular Georgian beach. Though you may feel secluded, the campground is equipped with several public convenience facilities such as indoor bathrooms, hot showers, wash station, picnic tables, and a large firing ring.
Walk beyond the campground and you will find yourself on a trail which takes you through several sand dunes and tidal inlets.
While watching the sunrise here can be an amazing part of your vacation, the sunset sky filled with constellations as well as planets such as Mars, Venus, and Jupiter is an ethereal experience altogether. If you are observant and lucky, you may even spot the Milky Way.