A Guide to Georgia's Coast

Plan a getaway to experience Georgia's unique beach communities.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island

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

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

Soak up island history and maybe a game of croquet with a stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort. For oceanside lodging, try the Hampton Inn & Suites.

What to Do

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

Latitude 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

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on 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

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

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

Southern Soul BBQ is a must during any visit to St. Simon’s Island, while Crabdaddy’s has unbeatable fried shrimp. For a more upscale meal, try Halyards seafood restaurant.

Sea Island

The Cloister at Sea Island

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

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

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

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.

Tybee Island

Tybee Island Lighthouse. Photo by Darryl Brooks.

On Georgia’s northern coast, Tybee Island is a laid-back beach destination just 20 minutes outside Savannah.

Where to Stay

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

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

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

Little St. Simons Island

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.

Lodge on Little St. Simons. Photo by Lesli Peterson

Little St. Simons Island

The all-inclusive, eco-friendly Lodge on Little St. Simons Island is the perfect getaway for nature lovers.

Cumberland Island photo by Brinson McGowan, @brinsonmcgowan IG

Cumberland Island

Once the island retreat for the Carnegies, this largely undeveloped island is only accessible by ferry from St. Marys. Plan a luxurious stay at the Greyfield Inn, a day-trip to explore the Dungeness Ruins or a Cumberland Island National Seashore Camping trip for the ultimate Georgia beach adventure.

Glamp camp on Little Raccoon Key, Georgia

Little Raccoon Key

Part of the Golden Isles of Georgia, this unspoiled reef island off the coast of Jekyll Island is perfect for those looking for a remote getaway. Rent your own private island and stay overnight in a solar-powered luxury canvas tent, or book a guided tour to spend a day exploring the ancient oyster reef.

St. Catherine's Island in Midway, Georgia

St. Catherine's Island, Midway

Relax among the driftwood on the beach of this untouched island in Liberty County. The private hideaway in the middle of Georgia's pristine salt marshes can only be reached by boat.

Published: March 2014