Tag Archives: Georgia Beaches

South Dunes Beach, Jekyll Island

Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata) are vulnerable to development yet essential to the retention of sand in the constantly-shifting dunal landscape of the Georgia Coast. South Dunes is a great place to observe their impact.

The beach is accessible from the South Dunes Picnic Area.

Just remember not to walk on the dunes if you visit, as they’re important nesting areas for sea turtles and are vulnerable to any intrusions.

Groups like Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island and One Hundred Miles are great advocates for these fragile landscapes which make the coast so appealing to residents and tourists alike.

Note: This replaces a post originally published on 4 March 2012.

Massengale Beach, St. Simons Island

Driving north from the Village, Massengale is the first public beach you will encounter. In recent years its popularity seems to have waned in favor of East Beach (Coast Guard Beach) but it’s still a great spot. The dunes here are nearly gone but are still recognizable as you enter the beach (above).

Sunset, Nanny Goat Beach

Shark Tooth Beach, Jekyll Island

Located on Jekyll Creek, Shark Tooth Beach is perhaps the least known beach on the island, likely because it’s not a beach in the traditional sense. It gets its name from the prehistoric shark’s teeth commonly found here.

There’s no sign pointing you to Shark Tooth Beach. The name doesn’t even officially exist on maps and charts, but judging by the number of people who had found their way here at the time I visited, it isn’t as unknown as it once was. Still, it requires a hike or bike ride of about a mile. No motor vehicles are allowed.

The beach is littered with oyster shells and the remains of other marine life. Wrack dominates the high end of the tide line.

If you’re looking for isolation on Jekyll Island, and don’t mind the short hike, this may become one of your favorite spots.

The entrance to Shark Tooth Beach is located slightly south of the entrance to Summer Waves water park . Look for a simple gate on the right side of the road. You can park near the gate. Follow the trail to its end and you will reach the site. Shoes are strongly suggested as cacti and other sticky plants dominate sections of the trail, not to mention the sharp shells and other detritus on the beach.

North End of Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

If you walk the whole distance of Driftwood Beach, you’ll be at the northernmost point of Jekyll Island. A pine forest skirts the beach for some distance, though some may have been destroyed by the most recent hurricane. [These photos were made in 2014].

There’s still driftwood at this end of the beach, but it’s encountered less frequently.

Erosion is accelerated by the ebb and flow of St. Simons Sound and sand eventually replaces remnant forest.

Wrack and vegetation are dominant here, so it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the boneyard further south, but it’s one of the most unique spots on the island and there are great views of neighboring St. Simons Island and its iconic lighthouse, as well as the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

Dune Boardwalk, Jekyll Island

14th Street Dunes, Tybee Island

Convenient beach access points can be found from the lighthouse all the way down the island. Just remember that parking is never free on Tybee, and in summer a spot can be difficult to find.

Due to heavy erosion, sand is constantly being replaced in certain areas. The dunes are predominately natural, though.

As on all of Georgia’s barrier island, Tybee’s dunes are protected as turtle habitat and for myriad other animals and plants which call them home.

I was amazed to find this dune wildflower blooming in January, but the micro-climate on the coast yields many surprises.

Winter is actually a wonderful time to visit the coast, as it’s always less crowded and to me, at least, the stark colors and hues give it an otherworldly feel.

Big Slough, Ossabaw Island

Big Slough is the creek that separates the mainland of Ossabaw Island from South End and Middle Beaches.

 

 

South End Boneyard, Ossabaw Island

Boneyard beaches are an emblematic feature of the Sea Islands, with examples in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Ossabaw’s South End boneyard is much larger but less well-known than Jekyll’s Driftwood Beach.

 

South End Beach, Ossabaw Island

Ossabaw Island’s South End Beach is a 12-mile, hour-long ride away from any semblance of civilization but well worth the difficulty of getting there. From the Main Road we veered onto Hell Hole Road, passing through some of the most ecologically significant mature maritime forests in Georgia. When at last the beach was in sight we followed a short path to the dunes, punctuated by a stand of Cabbage-palms (Sabal palmetto) more reminiscent of Florida than Georgia.

Here are a few views of this pristine place.