The historic Tom House is one of the wooden, tin-roofed cottages on Little St. Simons Island. AJC FILE

Discover Georgia’s Barrier Islands

Compared to its neighbors to the north and south, Georgia has a short coastline, measuring just 100 miles from Savannah to St. Marys. And unlike the green and blue ocean waters of its neighbors, Georgia’s water is brown, a result of the nutrient-rich silt and sediment washed down by the mighty Altamaha and other rivers that empty into the ocean here.

What really sets Georgia’s coastline apart from the rest of the Eastern Seaboard, though, is its spectacular barrier islands, most of which remain undeveloped and contain protected wilderness areas. Only four are accessible by car.

Each island has its own flavor. Some have fancy resorts and trendy restaurants. Others are completely uninhabited or only sparsely so. And all of them are rich in history, be it Native American, antebellum era or Gilded Age.

On Cumberland Island, wild horses graze outside Dungeness, the ruins of a 59-room Queen Anne-style house built by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie in 1885. CURTIS COMPTON /

But one thing all the islands share in common is their astounding natural beauty, from their wide sandy beaches and vast salt marshes to their protective dune systems and maritime forests thick with Spanish moss and live oaks.

To learn more about the nine islands accessible to the general population, check out our award-winning travel package, Discover Georgia’s Barrier Islands. 

Cumberland Island

Little St. Simons Island

Sapelo Island

St. Simons Island

Jekyll Island

Sea Island

Tybee Island

Ossabaw Island

Wassaw Island 

RELATED: Georgia’s salt marshes are a vital resource

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