These Hidden Gems Are The Best Beaches In Georgia, According To A True Local

These natural wonders are hiding in plain sight.

Georgia Staff Writer
Maeve Browne at Jekyll Island. Right: A couple in the coastal forest.

Maeve Browne at Jekyll Island. Right: A couple in the coastal forest.

This Review article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

When it comes to beaches, some prefer the crystal clear waters of the pristine Gulf Coast or the white sands of Florida's Panhandle. But for this Georgia girl, nothing can beat the untamed beauty and rugged coastline of the state I've called home for the entirety of my life.

Affectionately named "The Golden Isles" by locals, this treasure trove of barrier islands 90 miles south of Savannah remains unspoiled by the modern world.

There's no big flashy sign alerting you to the fact you've crossed over into Glynn County. No roadside tourist gimmicks, or seas of contemporary resorts — a detail that allows these gems to be hidden in plain sight. There are no grandiose casinos, or bustling boardwalks, just miles of protected coastline.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island is one of Georgia's best beaches

Jekyll Island describes itself as "The most accessible of Georgia’s protected barrier islands [...] a place where nature and humanity peacefully co-exist." It is home to over a thousand acres of conserved "mature maritime forest."

Growing up, Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island felt like a well-kept secret. My parents swear they have been paying visits to this respite before it was marked on visitors' maps, or easily found with a Google search.

Rows of eroded driftwood trees line the stretch of the coast, ideal for climbing. As a child, it felt like Mother Nature had left behind a jungle gym. Visiting now evokes that same feeling, as it remains unchanged.

Narcity writer Maeve with family on Driftwood Beach as a child. Narcity writer Maeve with family on Driftwood Beach as a child. @maevecbrowne | Instagram

Cumberland Island hosts one of my favorite beaches in Georgia

15 miles South, and accessible only by boat is Cumberland Island. Here, wild horses roam the historic ruins of a 1803 mansion abandoned after a 1950s fire.

Visitors can camp overnight under the forest's thick green ceiling, or spend a day trip hiking, biking, or kayaking.

If you're lucky, you'll encounter the island's wildlife, mainly sea turtles which return to the island's 18 miles of beach every year during nesting season.

Cumberland consistently breaks its own record for hosting more sea turtle nests annually than any other beach in the state.

Visiting the beaches at Cumberland island feels like being transported to another, less complicated world. There's a delicious quietness here. The air is thick with the smell of salt instead of the usual suspects of suntan lotion and greasy food.

Everything on the island feels absolutely wild.

For me the aliveness and undisturbed beauty of this island are unmatched.

Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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