Warm Atlantic waters, miles of winding marshland and magnificent beaches attract more than just visitors to the Golden Isles. We share our shores with plenty of marine life, and while we hate to pick favorites, there’s something undeniably delightful about watching a dolphin splash the surface or a sea turtle mother lay her nest in the sand dunes. Get to know these beloved creatures and how to see them on your next trip. 

Credit: Southeast Adventure Outfitters

Dolphin Date

On your next coastal walk, keep an eye out for the flippers and fins of local bottlenose dolphins. These friendly marine mammals often appear in marshes and waterways, munching on fish and shrimp. Due to the extreme tides in the Golden Isles, dolphins in our region use a unique method to catch fish called “strand feeding.” This involves trapping fish at low tide and feeding along the muddy banks. Dolphins are also extremely social animals and often travel with close family pods. They visit the Golden Isles for the same reason your family does—good food, comfortable waters and friendly neighbors! 

If you’re lucky, you can spot dolphins from shore, especially at Gould's Inlet on St. Simons Island and Clam Creek Picnic Area on Jekyll Island. For a truly immersive experience, take a guided dolphin tour. Reserve a trip with Southeast Adventure OutfittersSt. Simons Dolphin Tours or Jekyll Island Boat Tours to get up close and learn more about these amazing creatures.

A loggerhead sea turtle mother returns to the ocean after laying her nest on the beach on Sea Island, GA

Sea Turtle Time

Miles of pristine beach, soft golden sand and gently lapping waves is a key habitat for one of the Golden Isles’ most iconic neighbors: the sea turtle. Every year several different species of sea turtle make their nests on our shores. Nesting season (May-August) is the best time to see a turtle for yourself–but keep your distance! These are endangered animals, and we take their care and conservation seriously. Take a Turtle Walk with a local expert or check out a local nest monitoring system before you head to the beach. 

Turtle time goes beyond nesting season. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island is open year-round and is committed to sea turtle rehabilitation, research and education. Learn about the journey of a sea turtle with informative exhibits and even meet some rescued and rehabilitated animals who call the Center home. 

Get to know the other wild residents of the Golden Isles, or find even more things to do on your next visit. 

Special thank you to Southeast Adventure Outfitters for providing dolphin photos for this post.