The “best beach” title may depend on individual taste, but whether you seek history, nature, nightlife or just to be left alone, Georgia has a beach for you.
The coast of Georgia is roughly 110 miles and includes 15 barrier islands, four of which (Jekyll, St. Simons, Sea and Tybee) are accessible by car and have become popular resort destinations. The rest of Georgia’s islands require transportation by boat and are virtually unspoiled natural escapes.
Georgia’s Major Islands
Jekyll Island was once a winter retreat for America’s richest families, including the Rockefellers, Pulitzers and Vanderbilts. Now a playground for seaside lovers everywhere, Jekyll Island offers a variety of activities ranging from environmental education to plain old-fashioned beach fun.
Where to Stay on Jekyll Island: Soak up island history and maybe a game of croquet with a stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. For oceanside lodging, try the Hampton Inn & Suites.
What to Do on Jekyll Island: The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a hospital for ill and injured sea turtles and a perfect place to see these endangered creatures up close. Tidelands Nature Center is low-key with fantastic kids programs, as well as affordable kayak or canoe rentals. Driftwood Beach is a must-see with its weathered trees preserved in grey by the salt air. For theme park fun, hit Summer Waves Water Park.
- Where to Eat on Jekyll Island: Latitiude 31 is located at the marina and offers great marshland views, as well as live music. Driftwood Bistro offers family-friendly service at affordable prices.
St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island charms visitors into staying. The island is home to more permanent residents than any other barrier island in Georgia. The combination of guests and residents means there’s a wide variety of shopping, dining and activities available.
Where to Stay on St. Simons Island: The historic The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort has hotel rooms and condos right on the beach, as well as access to golf and tennis. Locals and visitors can be found in the pub at the boutique Village Inn and Pub near the Pier Village area downtown.
What to Do on St. Simons Island: For history buffs, Fort Frederica National Monument is a must-see and has one of the best Junior Ranger programs in the state. Nature lovers should take a kayak tour through the marshes, visit the Maritime Center at the Historic Coast Guard Station or, for a truly unique experience, spend the day aboard the Lady Jane shrimp boat.
- Where to Eat on St. Simons Island: Southern Soul BBQ is a must during any visit to St. Simon’s Island, while Crab Daddy’s has unbeatable fried shrimp. For a more upscale meal, try Halyards seafood restaurant.
For many families, Sea Island has been a mutigenerational destination for decades. This resort caters to families, couples and groups, making each think the resort was made specifically for them.
Where to Stay on Sea Island: The Cloister at Sea Island is a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Resort with rooms, suites and private cottages. Rooms are large, with a minimum of 700 square feet vs. 400–450 square feet for a typical Five-Star hotel.
What to Do on Sea Island: Activities abound, but the best part of a stay at the Cloister is the Beach Club with its three pools, soda fountain, playground and private beach, all within a few hundred feet.
- Where to Eat on Sea Island: Sea Island has seven unique dining venues, ranging from upscale cuisine to beachfront snacks (be sure to ask about the pickles). Even adults love the Gold Brick Sundae from Wonderland, the Sea Island sweet shop. For unique dining, visit the kitchen at the Georgian Room for the Chef’s Table Experience.
On Georgia’s northern coast, Tybee Island is a laid-back beach destination just 20 minutes outside Savannah.
Where to Stay on Tybee Island: Tybee has many standard hotel rooms, but the best place to stay is one of the quaint bed and breakfast inns like the Beachview Bed and Breakfast.
What to Do on Tybee Island: In addition to the beach, visitors can explore the Tybee Island Lighthouse Museum, or get a close look at local sea life with marine biologist Dr. Joe during a Beach Ecology Tour
- Where to Eat on Tybee Island: Tybee is a great place for eating. Residents and visitors love The Sundae Café for its seafood, not ice cream. Seaside Sweets is the place for homemade gelato, and coffee lovers rave about the funky Tybean Art & Coffee Bar.
More Island Adventures
Eagle Island: One of the Private Islands of Georgia: At Eagle Island, you’ll trade in the car for a boat and cruise the waterways, with pit stops for shelling, birding or whatever you’d like.
Little St. Simons Island: The all-inclusive, eco-friendly Lodge on Little St. Simons Island is the perfect getaway for nature lovers.