Georgia’s coast, between Savannah and the Florida state line, is dotted with barrier islands small and large, boasting luxury resorts as well as natural wilderness equipped with campgrounds. This is a part of the world where you won’t find the large tourist crowds that make Florida so popular. Here, four islands — accessible by small roads or boat — that feel almost tourist-free.
The Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of the most untouched regions of the state, home to wild horses that roam the mudflats and sandy beaches. Only accessible by ferry from nearby St. Mary’s, Cumberland was once home to the country’s elite — but these days you can camp in the national park, where spots are booked months in advance, or stay at the luxurious and historic Greyfield Inn. Visit the ruins of the Carnegie mansion at Dungeness as well as the Brack Chapel, where John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette.
Little St. Simon’s Island
The smaller sibling of St. Simon’s Island is the least developed of all of Georgia’s islands. Little St. Simon’s is made up of salt marshes, where alligators, turtles, and over 200 species of birds thrive. For an intimate base camp for hiking trails, bird watching, and dozens of other activities, try the rustic 32-guest Lodge on Little St. Simon’s.
Managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Sapelo Island is where many families have hunting lodges. The island is only open for guided tours or guests of residents. Here, you can stay at the state park accommodations at Reynolds Mansion or the dormitories with the University of Georgia Marine Institute.
Known for world-class golfing and (yet again) stunning wildlife, Jekyll Island is another one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets. You can access the island by car via a long causeway, but keep in mind that there are no gas stations once there. Jekyll Island also has a few campgrounds, or try luxury hotel The Jekyll Island Club, formerly a stomping ground for the rich and famous. Fun fact: This island was home to a number of Native American settlements, as well as Georgia’s first brewery, way back in the 1700s.