Georgia's top beaches include Jekyll Island's North Beach, a
great venue for family beach fun. The area we think of as North Beach
starts at the end of Driftwood Beach and encompasses the beach front at Villas-by-the-Sea and the former Jekyll Oceanfront Clarion Resort (which is now closed awaiting new ownership).
Past the Clarion is a section of homes overlooking the beach. Some of these are rentals, and make great oceanfront homes for a family beach vacation.
The North Beach area is constantly changing due to the erosive force of wind and water. Erosion strips sand from the North Beach and deposits it further south.
Over the years, the North Beach area has narrowed, while the South Beaches have widened. But there's still plenty of room for family beach fun or to stage a wild beach party - at low tide. When the tide rises, the water comes all the way up to the granite rock breakwater, so the beach is inaccessible at high tide.
Villas-by-the-Sea has built a 400' boardwalk which parallels the beach and is above the high tide line. It connects to their Beach Pavilion, and is a great place to walk with your sweetheart or family and enjoy the ocean when you can't get down to the beach due to high tide.
There's also a sand terrace between the rental homes and the former Clarion resort and the sea, and it, too, is above the high tide line. Martha and I have taken our beach chairs out to the terrace several times and enjoy lounging back, a cold drink in hand, and watching the play of the sea breeze on the sparkling Atlantic.
At low tide, the beach is perfect, with no accessibility problems at all. You can find shells and the odd piece of flotsam (we even found a small coconut once, or at least what I thought was a coconut).
The sand is firm and wide at low tide, and cut with rivulets draining water back to the sea. Kids and grownups alike can cool off by wading through the tidal pools trapped by sand berms at low tide.
Kids may be tempted to climb over the rock breakwater protecting the North Beach, but it's a good idea to discourage this activity. The rocks are slick, some jagged, and may have sharp-edged barnacles growing on them.
Jekyll Island's top beaches are perfect places to spot wildlife, and North Beach is no exception. You can see dolphins frolicking in the surf, or watch the seagulls chasing free meals behind the cruising shrimp boats.
If you're staying in one of the interior homes on the island, there are several public beach access points you can use to get to the beach. There are access walks at the ends of Gould, Ellis, Tyler, King, and Brice Streets.
Or you can access the beach through Villas-by-the-Sea's boardwalk.
Further north, where Beachview Drive starts to turn away from the sea to round the island, there's a pull off area where you can park your car. Here, you'll find trails to the beach that come out at the end of Driftwood Beach, where the breakwater for North Beach starts. Driftwood Beach is another of Georgia's top beaches.
Before you leave home, check with Villas-by-the-Sea for any beach vacation packages they might be promoting. You can reach Villas-by-the-Sea at 1-866-920-1263.