The southeast coast is a beautiful part of the country and offers a remarkable space for outdoor recreation, water sports, sunbathing, and discovering its incredible history. These top beach towns in Georgia are delightful places to both live and visit, all located on islands.
They make excellent additions to any itinerary, no matter the time of year. The high season for playing in the water is June through August, but humidity levels are pretty intense. April to late May and September to early November are good times to visit for warmer weather and a slightly off-the-peak season. Head to “The Goober State” for an unforgettable reprieve from everyday life.
Here are the top beach towns on the Georgia coast to live and visit, in no particular order:
Jekyll Island is a Georgia state park on the southern coast with overnight accommodations, museums, restaurants, a golf course, and eight miles of flat beaches. There are endless opportunities for outdoor fun on the island, including 20 miles of hiking trails, wildlife viewing tours, and numerous fishing spots.
Long ago, the island was inhabited by indigenous people who were eventually killed or sent away by European explorers and pirates during the 17th century. After that time period, Jekyll Island was booming with plantations through the 19th century, but it was during the 1900s that the area started to develop.
Today it is primarily a vacation destination, but there are roughly 1,000 permanent residents of the 5,700-acre island. History lovers enjoy exploring the Historic District, where preserved homes, tours, and landmarks have stood the test of time.
Visiting an island wouldn’t be complete without time at the beach. Many of the beaches on Jekyll Island are unique to one another, offering plenty of amenities and fun ways to enjoy the water and land. Some of the most visited beaches include South Dunes Beach Park, Glory Beach, St. Andrews Beach Park, Oceanview Beach Park, and Driftwood Beach.
Located just 20 minutes from Savannah, Tybee Island is a peaceful getaway town that has attracted visitors since the late 19th century. This tranquil spot with a population of about 3,100 in The Peach State has lots of soft sands, calm waves, and 25 restaurants showcasing fresh local flavors.
Before Spanish travelers arrived on the island in the 1500s, many believed the Euchee tribal people settled it. One of the country’s oldest lighthouses, Tybee Lighthouse (Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse), was constructed in 1736 and still offers stunning panoramic views to tourists.
The island also had involvement during the Civil War, and traces of this period can be discovered around town. While the island is a great place to unwind and enjoy the salty air, it also hosts several live events, music performances, and annual festivals like the Tybee Island Pirate Fest in October.
Hitting the beach is a favorite pastime of Tybee visitors. The most popular water access places are Tybee Island North Beach, Tybee Island South Beach, Tybee Island Black River Beach, Savannah River Beach, and Tybee Mid Island Beach. Little Tybee Island is another beach, and even though it’s only accessible by boat, it’s an incredible place to enjoy a remote environment.
St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island is the most significant of the state’s Golden Isles and a top tourist spot located on the southeastern Georgia coast. Travelers are attracted to the island for numerous outdoor activity opportunities, resort stays, shopping, dining, and exploring historical sites.
The first evidence of human occupation on the island goes back to the Late Archaic Period, around 3,000-5000 years ago. A shell ring was discovered at Cannon’s Point, proving that people inhabited the area during this period. The island was involved in many important historical events, like the American Revolution and the plantation era.
After a day playing in the water, check out the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum and the Fort Frederica National Monument.
St. Simons Island had a population of 15,291 (as of the 2020 US census), making it a decent-sized community for an isle. There are two public beaches on the island. Coast Guard Station Beach and Massingale Park Beach are famous for kayaking, fishing, and biking. A few amenities like a bathhouse, showers, and sometimes lifeguards are available on the beaches too.
Even though Georgia’s top beach towns might not be the first thing that comes to mind when traveling in the south, there are a few gems worth venturing to. The rich history of its coastal towns and lovely sandy beaches are close to many larger cities, making them reasonably accessible for quick trips.