Wassaw Island is a pristine barrier island and a refuge off the coast of Georgia featuring slash-pine and wild-oak woodlands, vast salt marshes, and seven miles of undeveloped beaches with rolling dunes where you can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, beachcombing, sunbathing and playing in the surf. This is also a popular place for general nature studies since the human impact on the island has been minimal.
Location and Access
Wassaw Island is located between the Wilmington River and Wassaw Sound on the north and the Vernon River and Ossabaw Sound on the south. From the mainland, it is separated by salt marsh and tidal creeks.
The only way to get to Wassaw Island is to take a 30-minute boat ride, which costs approximately $50 and can be reserved at several local marinas around the city of Savannah and a public boat ramp near the Skidaway Island Bridge. There are also outfitters who provide such tours. Another option is to go by private boat; in such cases, visitors usually anchor boats to the north or south beaches or in Wassaw Creek.
You are allowed to stay on the island from sunrise to sunset, except during scheduled refuge hunts.
About 20 miles of dirt roads represent a perfect trail system for hiking and biking. Other popular visitor activities include hunting, fishing, taking photos, and wildlife viewing. All hunters are required to have a $25 refuge hunt permit and State licenses.
As for fishing, saltwater fishing is allowed in the estuarine waters adjacent to the refuge all year round. Freshwater fishing in the refuge ponds is not permitted. Beach or bank fishing in the estuarine waters is allowed during daylight hours.
Birdwatching is best during the fall and spring migrations. There are rookeries for herons and egrets, and wading birds are plentiful in summer. Other bird species include bald eagle, piping plover, peregrine falcon, wood stork, and a variety of shorebirds.
Local mammals and reptiles include wild boar, white-tail deer, feral hogs, alligator, and loggerhead sea turtle. At nights in late spring and early summer, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs and then return to the sea.
The beach is deserted during the week and not so crowded on weekends. The sand is white and clean, you can find many sand dollars and shells in it. However, shelling enthusiasts shouldn’t take live shells and are asked to limit collecting to a handful. Be aware that there are no restrooms, shelters, or drinking water available in the refuge.
Driving Time (till Skidaway Island)
You can drive till Skidaway Island and then go by boat from either of the local marinas.
- 1 hour 20 minutes from Brunswick, GA
- 2 hours 15 minutes from Jacksonville, FL
- 2 hours 25 minutes from Charleston, SC
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge Beach which you can visit: