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).
Tag Archives: Georgia Beaches
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
St. Andrews Beach lies just west of the island’s southern tip, at the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets St. Andrews Sound.
Loved by locals for its natural beauty and relative solitude, it is also my favorite place on the island. A sorry episode in Georgia’s history, the landing of the illegal slave ship the Wanderer, took place here in 1858; it will be addressed in another post.
It’s more a ‘nature’ beach than a ‘swimming’ beach. The waters off St. Andrews are a good spot for observing dolphins. Sharks are quite common, too. Posted warnings note that there is bacteria in the water and this keeps most visitors out of the water. Strong currents are also a factor. Seining (net fishing) is a common activity, though.
St. Andrews often has more shells than any other beach on Jekyll Island.
Walk left from the entrance area and you’ll notice lots of deadfall.
There’s a similarity to Driftwood Beach, but St. Andrews Beach is much smaller.
St. Andrews has some of the best sunsets on the island. I’ve been at sunrise and sunset and encountered the fewest people in the mornings. Whatever time you go, try to visit at low tide as there’s very little shoreline at high tide.