Whether on islands off the coast of Georgia or in neighboring South Carolina, there are a number of sandy beaches to enjoy around Savannah, from the more developed to the more natural.
South Beach, Tybee Island
Tybee Island is a quick 20-minute drive from Savannah. This beach town has several beaches, with the most popular being South Beach. It’s the busiest and has the most facilities, with restaurants, shops, bars, restrooms and plenty of parking. Soft sand and gentle waves watched over by lifeguards make it ideal for swimming. When finished with the beach, stroll the Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion while eating ice cream and watching the cargo ships. South Beach extends southwards from 14th Street to 18th Street.
Those looking for a quieter option with fewer crowds will enjoy escaping to Mid Beach. The wide stretches of sand have dunes, flora and fauna, including the occasional turtle nest. The beach runs parallel to many vacation rentals and is popular with residents. Indeed, it’s a local favorite and has fewer amenities and only one beachfront restaurant, the Deck Beach Bar and Kitchen, so make sure to pack some snacks. The beach has street parking available, and bathrooms are located half a block away at Memorial Park. Mid Beach runs from 1st Street to South Beach at 14th Street.
While the sand might not be as soft as on South Beach, being peppered with seashells, North Beach is less crowded and has views of the Tybee Island Light Station to make up for it. It’s the closest beach to Savannah, and the one residents often visit. When the tide is out, take a walk over to the tide pools to see the marine life or over to the marshy Savannah River to watch the birds feed. Sometimes, dolphins are even spotted. North Beach has paid parking, restrooms and foot-washing stations. The beach runs from the northern tip of Tybee Island to Highway 80.
Just across the border in South Carolina lies the gorgeous Hilton Head. Most of the island comprises gated resorts and golf courses, but the beaches are open for public use. The most visited is Coligny Beach Park, which attracts residents and visitors alike. Relax on the wide sand beaches, grab a drink at the Tiki Hut or, for the more active, play volleyball or rent a bike. Driessen Beach Park and Burkes Beach are more peaceful options, while Alder Lane is perfect for swimming. Whatever mood strikes, Hilton Head Island has it all. It’s a mere 45 minutes from Savannah.
St Simons Island lies off the coast of Georgia, between Jacksonville and Savannah. While this hidden gem has permanent residents, it also attracts visitors due to its shops, restaurants and unspoiled beaches. Massengale Park Beach is the most popular, complete with lifeguards, picnic areas and a bathhouse. Another favorite is Coast Guard Station Beach, which also has lifeguards and a bathhouse. St Simons is also home to an abundance of wildlife and sea life for visitors to enjoy, including whales, dolphins, raccoons and alligators, to name a few. It’s a 1.5hr drive from Savannah.
Part of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island is a quieter alternative to St Simons Island. With 10mi (16km) of sandy shores, there are many options to choose from. Named one of America’s “Top 10 Romantic Beaches,” Driftwood Beach (so named because of the abundance of driftwood) is popular with photographers because of the forest of petrified trees stretching to the sky. Along with the usual trails, biking and jogging on the island, there is the exciting Summer Waves Water Park to exhaust kids (and adults). The drive from Savannah is 90 minutes, and an admission/parking fee applies to all visitors to the island.