Summer is here and the beach beckons, but Florida’s not in the budget this year. No worries, just pack up the car for a little rest and relaxation by Georgia’s seaside. Conveniently situated near the Atlantic Ocean, the pristine waters and lush landscapes make you feel worlds away. Whether you have only a weekend or an entire week to enjoy, Georgia’s beaches make for great coastal escapes.
Located 18 miles east of Savannah, Tybee Island is a longtime favorite of visitors from across the state. This low-key resort town offers all the recreation of larger beach towns, minus the overdevelopment. Lodging, restaurants and activities abound, making it easy for your stay to be all about family and fun. With the island’s many happenings, it also is a great summer holiday destination. Head down in September for the Labor Day Beach Bash at Tybee’s Pier & Pavilion for live entertainment, food, fireworks and a cool ocean breeze.
Cumberland National Seashore
As Georgia’s largest and southernmost island, Cumberland National Seashore is more than a beach. It is protected and operated by the National Parks Service, and home to numerous threatened and endangered birds. Located seven miles from the town of St. Marys, the island is only accessible by boat or ferry. There’s a plethora of things to do here. In addition to swimming, there’s camping, guided tours, stargazing, beach combing, kayaking and much more. Fishing and hunting also are allowed, but only in accordance with state laws and regulations.
St. Simons Island
Known as a natural resort, St. Simons Island has several ways visitors can relax. There’s golf, spas and plenty of paved trails should you decide to bring or rent a bike. And with its mossy oak trees and salt marshes, the term “breathe easy” just may become your mantra. The lawn of the St. Simons Lighthouse is the official Sunday afternoon meeting spot during the summer. Locals, and visitors alike, enjoy picnics and live music against its maritime backdrop. The historic fixture is open for tours and still has a working light, which the U.S. Coast Guard maintains and operates.
Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons is a privately owned island that’s accessible only by boat. In 2007, Condé Nast Traveler ranked the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island the No. 1 U.S. Mainland Resort. And while it garners much press, only 30 overnight guests are allowed on the island at a time. It is a popular destination for small family gatherings, and its romantic and woodsy vibe also makes it an ideal couples retreat.
Although not as secluded as its neighbors, Jekyll Island still possesses every bit of the allure. It’s a popular and affordable destination for families. There’s an abundance of wildlife, guided tours and nature walks, historic sites, bike paths and golf, even a waterpark for visitors to enjoy. However, for a worldlier, old-money experience, make reservations at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, where Rockefellers used to play. Accommodations include stately villas that were built to house wealthy club members of days past.
Whether you come alone, bring the family or that special someone, Sea Island is a place to get lost in the moment. While here, stroll or ride horses along the beach, fish or golf to your heart’s content; or just hole up and get pampered from head to toe at the Cloisters or the Lodge at Sea Island. Both upscale hideaways are Mobil Five-Star resorts with excellent spas and dining. When you tire of the beach, take a short drive into Brunswick. The city has several Confederate war sites, plantations and other historical wonders, as well as a vibrant arts scene.