With so much shoreline around the Golden Isles, there are tons of beaches to be enjoyed. But which one is best for watching the sunset, or enjoying a post-swim picnic? Where should I take my kids once they get tired of building sandcastles and splashing in the surf? What about parking???? Fear not! We've got the ultimate guide to beaches in the Golden Isles... and, (spoiler alert) you can't really go wrong with any of them: each is more stunning than the last!
The biggest beach on St. Simons is the Old Coast Guard Station. This access point (also known as First Street Beach Access) gets its name from the Coast Guard Station that was built here in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration. There's a large parking lot, a seasonal concession stand, showers, bathrooms, and more, which make this a great place if you're looking to spend a few hours enjoying the beauty of the beach!
Ample parking and a nice playground and picnic area make Massengale Beach a great stop for oceangoers on St. Simons. It's conveniently located near tons of restaurants, in case you want to wander around and look for a place to grab lunch or dinner, or just take a walk on the beach after indulging in a big meal of Southern cookin'. Massengale even has outdoor showers so you can rinse off sandy feet before strolling over to one of the eateries!
If you're looking for a beach that provides more activity, Great Dunes Park is your best bet. It has lots of parking, and is right next door to a playground and a mini golf course, in case the kids want to take a break from the ocean for a bit. You can also rent bikes and Segways nearby, which are perfect for exploring the beaches. Other features include the fact that it's pet-friendly, is set up for volleyball and bocce ball, has an activity deck, and features restrooms and showers on site. If you're coming for a day trip to Jekyll from a little further away, this is the best place to set up a home base for exploring!
If you're a photographer looking for a really unique setting for some pictures, then Driftwood Beach is your spot. Wander around this haunting tree bone graveyard and allow the beauty to wash over you. The sand is studded with massive, gnarled logs of driftwood, deposited here as this part of the island has eroded away. Come around sunrise or dusk to see the fading light cast shadows over the twisted branches, and feel free to climb atop a log and take a moment to appreciate the uniqueness of this beach.
St. Andrews Picnic Area is the only west-facing beach in the Golden Isles, making it an excellent place to watch the sunset from the beach. Here you'll find tons of amenities, from picnic tables and grills to restrooms and walking paths, as well as a historical marker dedicated to The Wanderer, a ship that illegally brought in hundreds of enslaved Africans in the 1850s, well after The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves had taken effect. It was one of the most controversial moments in Jekyll Island history. The picnic area also has beach access, and the shores here are known for their excellent shell-collecting and dolphin-spotting opportunities.
A hidden gem tucked away behind the Jekyll Island Soccer Complex, Glory Beach is a quiet patch of shore perfect for birdwatching and other peaceful activities. There's a small parking lot, and a boardwalk out to the beach, but no other facilities, so if you plan on swimming, make sure you come with your suit on. This place is especially appealing for film buffs: It was used to film scenes from the 1989 Civil War drama "Glory," that starred Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman. It's how the beach got its name... and the boardwalk was actually built for the filming!
Note: For Great Dunes Park, Driftwood Beach, St. Andrews Picnic Area and Glory Beach, there's a $6 daily parking pass required to enter Jekyll Island.
From quiet, peaceful patches of shoreline to beaches bustling with exciting activities, each Golden Isles beach has its own distinct flavor. Each is worth visiting, but for a different reason, and they all offer a different experience. Spend some time exploring them, and decide which is your favorite for yourself!
Nestled on the Georgia coast lies the mainland city of Brunswick and its four beautiful barrier islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands, define the Golden Isles' breathtaking landscape.