Golden Isles Beach FAQs
Here are some of our most commonly asked beach questions to help you as you plan your trip to the Golden Isles.
Are beaches open to the public?
Beaches on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island are open to the public. Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island beaches are accessible by guests only.
Are there lifeguards on duty?
Lifeguards are present from Memorial Day to Labor Day, from 11:00am to 4:00pm daily at Coast Guard and Massengale beaches on St. Simons Island. Please swim at your own risk. Do not swim to the visible sand bars. The tide changes quickly and will submerge the sandbar, stranding swimmers in deep water.
If an emergency situation arises, call 911. Learn more about beach safety.
What are the tides like?
There are four tides per 24-hour period, two low tides alternating with two high tides, each approximately six hours apart. The typical difference between high and low tide in water depth at a given point is approximately seven feet (7 ft). This means that at low tide, beaches are significantly wider (better for shelling) while rivers are significantly narrower and shallower. River fishing is generally thought to be at its best several hours immediately before and after the crest (high point) or ebb (low point) of a tide. Also, tides normally run higher in the Spring and Fall and at times of a full moon.
What is a barrier island?
Barrier islands are landforms that sit between the ocean and the mainland. Georgia has 14 barrier islands along its coast, and four are located here in the Golden Isles: Little St. Simons Island, St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Jekyll Island. To learn more about how barrier islands are formed and how they protect the mainland from harsh weather and tides, review our barrier island information page.
Can dogs go on the beach, and do they have to be on a leash?
The short answer is yes. But each beach is different; therefore it is recommended that you read the signage at each beach access point to confirm. Some beaches only allow pets during certain seasons and specific hours during the day.
St. Simons Island: East Beach on St. Simons Island states: "Animals are prohibited on this beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. From 6pm to 9am, dogs are allowed on the beach and do not need to be leashed, but must be in the owner's immediate control. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, from 9am to 6pm, dogs are no longer allowed on the beach--with or without a leash.
Jekyll Island: Pets must be under immediate control of their owners and on a leash no longer than 16' at all times. No pets allowed on South Beach between South Dunes Picnic Area and 2,000' northeast of St. Andrews Sound Picnic Area. Pet owners are to remove and dispose of pet fecal material.
Most importantly, when your animal is allowed on the beach, if it leaves more than prints in the sand... please pick it up! There are dog bag receptacles located at each beach access point that allows pets. It is always a good idea to bring your own bags as well, just in case the receptacle is empty.
Are there beaches with accessibility for those with physical disabilities?
Yes, several public beaches provide accessibility for those with physical disabilities. A large mat pathway is available at the U.S. Coast Guard Station beach on St. Simons Island, and at Great Dunes Park (crossover #32) and Beach Village (crossover #38) on Jekyll Island. Please be aware that the mats may not always reach hard-packed sand due to the variation of tides throughout each day. St. Andrews Beach and Oceanview Beach Park on Jekyll Island features an accessibility ramp. Beach-going wheelchairs are available on Jekyll Island, and can be reserved by calling 912-635-2368.
How can I be mindful of beach wildlife?
The Georgia Barrier Islands are home to many wildlife species, including shorebirds and other water birds. It is important to be a responsible traveler and to be aware of how your actions can impact wildlife. During the summer, it's best to stay on the wet sand and to observe for signs or roped areas. Don't disturb birds or wildlife and leave your dogs at home or keep them leashed when possible.