With the beach, marsh, and maritime forest habitats, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic destination for fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, strolling, hiking, and beach recreation.
In the old days, this island was used by the infamous British pirate “Blackbeard” as a hiding-and-waiting place for his ships; then the US Navy used it as a quarantine station and source of lumber. Now it is one of the most secluded barrier islands in the state – a perfect place to enjoy the nature of Georgia away from crowds.
Location and Access
Midway down the Georgia coast, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge is located 40 miles south of Savannah and just north of Sapelo Island. It is conveniently reached from Brunswick, Darien, or St. Simons Island. As there is no road bridge, access to the island is only by water (boat or kayak). You can go by yourself or take a guided tour.
The refuge features free admission and is open from sunrise to sunset daily all year round, with the exception of two several-day deer hunts in fall and winter (check out the official website for more information).
In addition to the saltwater and freshwater marsh and forest-covered dunes, the refuge includes miles of sandy beach. It is peaceful, unspoiled, and stunning, with a great “boneyard” area. The sand is good for shelling – there are many sand dollars, horseshoe crabs, whelk, etc. The beach is mostly deserted. It is so long that it seems never-ending.
Hiking, Biking, and Wildlife Viewing
There are several designated hike and bike trails running through maritime forest and marsh. Please follow the marked trails in order to protect wildlife and not to get lost.
Since the island is home to many species of wildlife and birds, it is a good destination for wildlife observation and birdwatching. Local species include songbirds, shorebirds, bald eagles, wood storks, American oystercatcher, piping plover, and waterfowl. Alligators, loggerhead sea turtles, deer, and smaller wildlife can also be seen.
Saltwater and creek fishing is allowed while freshwater fishing in the ponds is prohibited. They say fishing is especially good in the area between Blackbeard and Sapelo Islands.
You can drive till Brunswick, Darien, or St. Simons Island, leave your car and take a boat trip till Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Driving time till Brunswick:
- 1 hour 5 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
- 1 hour 15 minutes from Savannah, GA
- 2 hours 50 minutes from Charleston, SC
Driving time till Darien:
- 1 hour from Savannah, GA
- 1 hour 10 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
- 2 hours 40 minutes from Charleston, SC
Driving time till St. Simons Island:
- 1 hour 20 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
- 1 hour 30 minutes from Savannah, GA
- 3 hours 10 minutes from Charleston, SC
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge Beach which you can visit: