Beach Safety & Advisories
COVID-19 Beach Safety
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is requiring that everyone on the beaches follow the social distancing directives of maintaining six feet distance from others and the prohibiting of gatherings of more than ten persons.
Please see details and our full list of updates here.
Lifeguards are stationed at Coast Guard Beach and Massengale Beach on St. Simons Island each summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They are present daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lifeguards will not be on the beaches during inclement weather. We strongly advise St. Simons Island beachgoers to set up their beach gear within close proximity to a lifeguard tower, especially if planning to swim while visiting the beach. For more information regarding Glynn County lifeguards, please call 912-279-2836.
The Glynn County Recreation and Parks Department has a flag system in place at all St. Simons Island beaches during the summer months. The flags can be found atop of each lifeguard chair set out along the beaches. We strongly encourage beachgoers familiarize themselves with the flag system and recognize any potential warnings. View the Beach Warning Flag System here.
A green flag indicates low hazards and calm conditions. A yellow flag warns of medium hazards, such as light currents or surf. A purple flag is flown when dangerous marine life (jellyfish, stingrays or dangerous fish) have been spotted. A red flag indicates high hazards and rough conditions, such as strong surf or currents. A double red flag is flown when beaches are closed to the public. The Beach Flag Warning System should be followed and respected.
It's extremely important to pay attention to and understand beach patterns that can be found in the Golden Isles. Rip currents can be dangerous and should be avoided if possible. A rip current occurs when a strong current of water moves away from the shore. Although they can be common, they can have potentially disastrous consequences if a swimmer becomes trapped in the rip current.
What To Do If Caught in a Rip Current:
- Remain calm and tread water until you are free from the current; do not waste your energy trying to get out of the current prematurely.
- Remember that rip currents will not pull you under water.
- Never swim against the current. Once you are free from the current, swim parallel to the shore and away from the current until you can safely swim back to shore.
- Yell, wave or signal to those on shore that you need help.
Learn more about spotting rip currents and how to avoid them on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website here.
There are four tides within each 24-hour period in the Golden Isles with two high tides and two low tides alternating each other throughout the day. It's a best practice for beachgoers to check local tide charts before heading to the beach for the day. Although several Golden Isles beaches still have ample shoreline during a high tide, some are nearly impassable until the tide begins to recede. We recommend visiting our beaches during an outgoing tide, meaning high tide has recently occurred and is now shifting to a low tide. This provides hours of enjoyment along the shore and prevents visitors from repositioning their chairs and umbrellas each time the water creeps closer.
Each tide change results in an approximate seven-foot difference in water level. While this may not sound like much, imagine yourself wading in the water or walking along the shore at low tide with an additional seven feet of water overhead. Pay close attention to the tide changes and keep an eye on your watch to know when the tide may be turning. View daily tide charts here.
Although walking or wading to a sandbar at low tide can sound fun and exciting, it is extremely dangerous to do so. Tides can change quickly and submerge sandbars before curious beachgoers have time to safely return to shore. Rescuing trapped swimmers can be tricky for lifeguards and local safety personnel. Avoid sandbars; do not walk or swim to them.
Because of our abundant wildlife and unique ecosystems, beach water advisories may be periodically issued for a short period of time. The Glynn County Department of Health and Department of Natural Resources regularly test water samples at each public beach access in the Golden Isles. If bacteria levels do not meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards, a beach advisory will be issued and the public will be alerted. If a beach advisory is issued, it does not mean the beach is closed. Beachgoers may continue to enjoy the beach, but swimming or wading in the water is not recommended. For more information or to see current advisories, if any, please visit Georgia Healthy Beaches.