One of the famed Golden Isles, St. Catherines Island is partially open for visitors, who are allowed to access its spectacular, fine-sand beach. Absolutely serene is the best way to describe this unique place, which was declared a National Historic Landmark and included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
Location and Access
One of the Golden Isles on Georgia’s coast, St. Catherines Island is located just 20 miles south of Savannah, between Sapelo Sound and St. Catherines Sound. The island is owned by St. Catherines Island Foundation and the only part that is open to the general public is the beach below the high-tide line during daylight hours.
The interior areas of the island are used for scientific, ecological, educational, literary, and charitable purposes and can only be accessed under permit. You can reach the island by boat from Shellman Fish Camp, McIntosh County, or Halfmoon Marina on Colonel’s Island, Liberty County. There is no admission fee.
Culturally and ecologically significant, the island shares a diverse mix of cultural and ecological resources. Half of it is salt marshes while the other half is tidal marsh and wetlands. There are also woods and beaches. But what makes St. Catherines Island special among Georgia’s other important barrier islands is its globally significant archaeological sites representing the history of coastal Georgia.
St. Catherines Island boasts a wide variety of wildlife species including wild hogs, white-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos, and ring-tailed lemurs, as well as various birds including American oystercatcher, least tern, Wilson’s plover, painted buntings, and wood storks. The island is also home to Gopher Tortoises and Loggerhead Sea Turtles.
St. Catherines Island has more than 11 miles of white sandy beaches stretching along its eastern shore. Exceptionally clean and serene, the beach is open to the public up to the high tide line. Visitors are allowed to use this area of the beach for shelling, hiking, and picnicking during daylight hours.
As mentioned above, you can access the island only by boat. You can drive till Shellman Fish Camp, McIntosh County, or Halfmoon Marina on Colonel’s Island, Liberty County, leave your car there and reach the island by boat.
If you choose to go by car to Shellman Fish Camp, McIntosh County, mind you that there is no parking lot nearby. A car trip till Shellman Fish camp will take you:
- 45 minutes from Brunswick, GA
- 50 minutes from Savannah, GA
- 1 hour 30 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
Alternatively, you can drive till Halfmoon Marina on Colonel’s Island, Liberty County and leave your car on a small parking lot nearby. Then take a boat trip to the island. A car trip to Halfmoon Marina will take you:
- 45 minutes from Savannah, GA
- 55 minutes from Brunswick, GA
- 1 hour 40 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near St. Catherines Island Beach which you can visit: