The closest beaches to Atlanta – ocean beaches, not man-made beaches on a lake – are located on islands connected to the mainland by bridges or causeways. The Georgia coast, with its breathtaking coastal scenery, offers a string of barrier islands perfect for beach getaways. While some islands may be private or accessible only by boat, there are several options within a short drive from Atlanta for those seeking a beach vacation.
Tybee Island – Georgia's Hidden Gem
Tybee Island, just a 267-mile drive from downtown Atlanta, is the closest ocean beach destination. This historic beach town has been a favorite among visitors since the late 19th century. With its miles of sandy beaches and laid-back, old-school beach town vibe, Tybee Island attracts families and beach enthusiasts. You can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere around the pier and pavilion on the south end, which also offers access to various shops, dining options, and exciting nightlife. For a more relaxed experience, head to the north end, where you'll find a less-crowded beach near the historic lighthouse, museum, and fort. Tybee Island is also an ideal spot for kayaking and canoeing along its scenic coastline. This island is also known as “Savannah’s Beach,” as it is only a 20-minute drive from Savannah’s historic downtown.
Hilton Head Island – A Resort Paradise
Located just over the Georgia state line in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a resort destination approximately 282 miles from Atlanta. This stunning island boasts private gated developments and offers a range of activities for families, golfers, and tennis players. While there are only nine public access points to the beach, the entire shoreline is open to the public. Hilton Head Island is renowned for its world-class golf courses and tennis facilities. Although the island is larger than Tybee, requiring some driving or longer bicycle rides, it rewards visitors with breathtaking oceanfront views and a variety of watersports options, such as kayaking / canoeing and paddleboarding.
St. Simons Island – Historical Charm and Natural Beauty
A four-mile causeway leads visitors from the town of Brunswick to St. Simons Island, situated approximately 312 miles from Atlanta. St. Simons Island offers a blend of tourist amenities, historical landmarks, and natural beauty. Explore the colonial history of the area at Fort Frederica National Monument, where a significant battle took place. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the picturesque St. Simons Lighthouse, which dates back to 1872. The island's extensive bike paths make it easy to explore the surroundings while enjoying scenic views. Golf enthusiasts will be delighted by the presence of two renowned golf resorts, Sea Palms and the King and Prince. St. Simons Island offers a family-friendly atmosphere and access to beautiful beaches, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing getaway.
Jekyll Island – A Tranquil Retreat
Located approximately 322 miles from Atlanta, Jekyll Island offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Once a private retreat for prominent individuals like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, Jekyll Island is now open to the public as a state park. Visitors can enjoy the island's pristine beaches after paying a small causeway fee. The historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, once frequented by gilded age barons, has now been transformed into a National Historic Landmark and a luxury resort. Jekyll Island offers various recreational activities, including golf, tennis, biking, and water park adventures. Explore the renowned Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation, and research of sea turtles. With its picturesque driftwood beach and stunning coastal landscapes, Jekyll Island provides an unforgettable beach vacation experience.
Discover the Best Beaches Near Atlanta
While the closest beaches to Atlanta may require a few hours' drive, the scenic coastal destinations are well worth the journey. From kayaking and watersports to exploring historical landmarks and enjoying family-friendly atmospheres, these coastal getaways offer something for everyone. Plan a day trip or a longer beach vacation to experience the clear waters, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sunsets of the East Coast. Whether you choose to visit Florida beaches, the Carolina beaches, or the Gulf Coast destinations like Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), Panama City Beach (Florida), and Gulf Shores (Alabama), you'll find an array of seaside attractions and friendly beaches awaiting your arrival. Start your beach adventure today and create lasting memories at these stunning beach destinations near Atlanta.