Georgia is known for its charming Southern appeal and Antebellum antiquity, which is why big cities like Savannah and Atlanta are among the state's top vacation destinations. However, a lesser known aspect of the Peach State is its array of warm, sandy beaches laid out alongside the Atlantic. These coastal spots offer plenty of opportunities for sunbathing, fishing, boating and other water adventures. If you're looking to escape the daily grind and take a getaway to Georgia, make your way to one of these top beaches in the Empire State of the South.
East Beach, Saint Simon's Island
East Beach is one of the more popular spots on Saint Simon's Island. Visitors can relax on the impossibly clean oceanfront, go on a kayak adventure, windsurf or comb the beaches for pretty shells. One of the best features of East Beach is its close proximity to the island's town center, which has a mall with boutique shops and quaint eateries.
Sea Island Beach
A key aspect of Sea Island Beach is its wide array of amenities. There's a theater, golf club and spa all within walking distance, and you can even rent a bicycle for a full island exploration. Other activities available to visitors include fishing, horseback riding and community bingo.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
This National Park Service locale in Saint Marys is one of the biggest undeveloped barrier islands along the Atlantic Ocean and is home to the region's most expansive wilderness area. You'll find lush greenery, wild horses running along the beach and a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Keep your eye open for cultural ruins, nesting areas and historic landmarks scattered about.
Nanny Goat Beach
Situated on the southeastern edge of Sapelo Island, Nanny Goat Beach is the home of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve—scientists and naturalists gather here to explore the rich ecology and host educational walks and classes. The two miles of sandy beach are speckled with whelk shells and sand dollars, and visitors can look up to the skies to spy an array of majestic birds, such as egrets, blue herons, bald eagles and ospreys. Nanny Goat also features a one-mile walking trail that leads you to the historic former home of tobacco entrepreneur R.J. Reynolds.
Saint Andrew Beach
This Atlantic-side beach on the upper cape is secluded, beautiful and the only beach open to the public in tiny Truro. It is lined by cliffs and sand dunes - some that reach more than 100-feet high - and the beach is largely undeveloped, though it is occasionally host to recreational sand volleyball games and sunbathing couples or families. Come here to relax and take in the sun and ocean breeze.
Only a short drive from Brunswick is the exquisite Saint Andrew Beach. It's especially pleasant for families, offering a picnic area, easy walking trails and calm, shallow waters. From the beach, you can take in gorgeous views of the surrounding Jekyll Island State Park.
Jekyll Island Beaches
The beaches along Jekyll Island are stunning. Along with sparkling waters and immaculate sands, the area is known as a nesting place for sea turtles. Many people also visit this locale for its excellent fishing and snorkeling. While you're visiting, take notice of the remarkably preserved trees—Arborguard recognized Jekyll Island with an award for its untouched greenery and role in nature preservation.
Wassaw Island Beaches
Head just south of Tybee Island to reach Wassaw Island, which is one of Georgia's coastal barrier islands and spans more than 10,000 acres. It's been a designated National Wildlife Refuge for more than 40 years, so it retains its primitive charm. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views full of rolling hills and dunes, salt marshes and maritime forestry. You can fish in the Wilmington River and Wassaw Sound on the northern side of the island, or explore the Vernon River on the northern edge. Note that Wassaw Island is only accessible by public or chartered boat.
Upper Tanyard Creek Swimming Beach
Travelers staying in Atlanta can visit the nearby Upper Tanyard Creek Swimming Beach. Whether you're with the family or on a couple's retreat, there's plenty to do here. Bring along some steaks and corn on the cob to cook on the public grills, and enjoy your meal under the shade in the picnic area. When you're ready to hit the water, you can go whitewater paddling, boating or swimming in the clean ocean. There's also a golf course.
Little Saint Simons Island Beaches
Little Saint Simons Island was originally dubbed "a forest in the sea" because of its dense greenery. It's also home to seven miles of beautiful Atlantic coast beaches that are ideal for leisurely strolls, soothing dips and relaxing afternoons of sunbathing. It's also one of the less crowded beaches, offering solitude and serenity as well as an abundance of bird life and unscathed ecosystems. The island is also host to evening turtle walks, which let you see and learn about these gentle creatures with the help of a naturalist.
Sea Island Beach photo credit: Paul Williams Cumberland Island National Seashore photo credit: Savannah Sam Photography Nanny Goat Beach photo credit: Evangello Gonzalez Saint Andrew Beach photo credit: Evangello Gonzalez Tybee Island photo credit: Nick Lucey Wassaw Island Beaches photo credit: f_iodinea Upper Tanyard Creek Swimming Beach photo credit: Ralph H. Daily Little Saint Simon's Island Beaches photo credit: William Avery Hudson