The haunting beauty of Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island or the bustling vibe at the popular South Beach on Tybee Island, Georgia's 100 miles of coast make for an easy day trip from Savannah.
The coastal communities dotting the shoreline are ideal destinations for frolicking white-sand beaches, eating your weight in seafood or just watching the waves lap at your feet. Here's our list of the best beaches near the Hostess City of the South.
South Beach, Tybee Island
Tybee's South Beach is the island's most popular tourist spot and just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. The destination is packed with beachy fun, several major motels, bars, cafes and beach shops; while the Tybee Pavilion and Pier is filled with concession stands and public restrooms. For those looking for more than just a lazy day at the beach, head to Tybee Marine Science Center to learn about the area's marine wildlife.
The long strip of white sand on South Beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming or even surfing. But, weekends can be sheer chaos so, if possible, opt for a weekday or offseason visit.
The beach runs from 14th Street to the southern tip of Tybee Island, with the main stretch between 14th and 18th streets. Street parking and metered parking are available on the southern tip of the island but fill up fast in the summer months.
The restaurant scene on Tybee Island is mostly casual and beach-style – so you can leave the linen suit and fancy sundresses at home.
Mid Beach, Tybee Island
There’s nothing better than sitting on the soft sand while watching pelicans, great blue herons, snowy egrets or nesting turtles at Mid Beach, which runs parallel to the residential center of Tybee Island for about a mile-and-a-half.
Front Beach (part of Mid Beach) offers a long stretch of sand, few crowds and wonderful sand dunes. For public restrooms, head to Memorial Park, just west of Butler Avenue.
North Beach, Tybee Island
North Beach is where the locals head. This is a birdwatcher's haven, ideal for spotting winged species like osprey, brown pelicans and American Oystercatchers soaring through the dunes, while pods of dolphins follow fishing boats along the coast. When the tide is out, you can spot marine life like starfish, sand dollars and sea snails.
Views of the Tybee Island Lighthouse and the ferries that ply the Savannah River make North Beach worth a visit for those seeking solitude. Though it's still less crowded than South Beach, North Beach is beginning to attract more and more visitors.
Little Tybee Island
While the name is a bit ironic (Little Tybee is actually twice the size of Tybee Island), those truly wanting to unplug, will find their peace on Little Tybee Island. This beach is only accessible by boat, kayak or jet ski.
The island is excellent for fishing and camping. If you don’t want to rough it too much, you can charter a boat and spend half a day exploring, then head back to Savannah.
Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Just over the border in South Carolina, Hilton Head is a popular beach destination and just under an hour from Savannah. The best beach is Coligny Beach. It’s accessible from many nearby hotels and has lots of parking. The beautiful white sand is perfect for relaxing and reading a book under an umbrella and then wading in the gentle waters to cool off.
Thanks to its popularity from folks from surrounding areas, you won’t find much privacy at Coligny, but it's still a blast. Coligny is great for family activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, sunset cruising and dining in the area.
But if sparse beaches are what you're looking for, head to Driessen Beach, also known as Bradley Beach. It's more of a locals hangout but has ample parking and a boardwalk offering great views.
East Beach, St. Simons Island, Georgia
Best beach for couples
East Beach wraps all the way around the island’s southern edge. It's ideal for those who want to play in the water or for those who enjoy long walks along the surf. A unique feature of this beach is the long sandbars (some up to ¼ mile long) which run off the shore during low tide.
One of Georgia's "Golden Isles," St. Simons Island is located an hour south of Savannah. A European settlement during the 1730s, the island later became a rice and cotton plantation before assuming its current role as a vacation spot during the 1920s.
The Golden Isles of Georgia, including St. Simons Island, are about an hour south of Savannah. St. Simons is situated on the salt marshes of the Georgia coast and boasts miles of beaches and historic sites including a 19th-century lighthouse and remnants of a former plantation.
The historic port city of Brunswick serves as the bridge to St. Simons Island. History buffs should also visit Fort Frederica National Monument built in 1733 to fend off attacks from the Spanish and the St Simons Island Lighthouse.
Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island
Best for privacy
Years of erosion made Driftwood Beach the stunning site it is today. Crooked and mangled-looking driftwood and trees dot the miles of beautiful beaches making for a haunting, yet stunning backdrop (especially at night). Note that when the tide is high the beach is inaccessible.
Just across the bay from St. Simons Island (about an hour and a half from Savannah) sits Jekyll Island, a former winter retreat for the wealthy and elite. There’s a historic district along Jekyll Island where the hotels and "cottages" of 19th-century visitors still stand. A string of beaches (especially intriguing is the "tree graveyard" at Driftwood Beach) dot the coastline while golf courses and outdoor activities attract those who like to do more than relax on the sand. Jekyll Island also boasts tour companies focused on both history and nature.
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