This Georgia Island Has One of the Best Beaches in the U.S. — Known for Its Unique and Beautiful Backdrop

Driftwood Beach is located on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia at sunset
Photo: Penny Britt/Getty Images

When it comes to the best beaches in the U.S., states like Florida, Hawaii, and California often dominate the conversation. But with more than 95,000 miles of coastline throughout the country, those who know where to look can find some little-known gems.

Tripadvisor's recently released list of Top 10 Beaches in the U.S. for 2022 points to some popular options you may be unfamiliar with — like Georgia's Driftwood Beach, which snagged the no. 6 spot in Tripadvisor's rankings.

Located on Jekyll Island just off the coast of the Peach State, Driftwood Beach isn't necessarily beloved for the usual reasons that people flock to the beach. While the white sand is soft and the sun-drenched waters are warm, Driftwood draws visitors for its unique landscape that's filled with — you guessed it — driftwood.

But the namesake driftwood that covers this beach is far more impressive than a scant few branches or logs. Entire trees have washed ashore at Driftwood Beach, creating a perfectly dreamy backdrop for a romantic stroll or photoshoot, something you'll see lots of couples doing there. It also makes for the perfect playground for kids and adults alike as they climb on these massive, ancient driftwood trees, some of which are more than 500 years old.

After exploring the trees that line the beach, picking up unique shells along the way, it's time to go for a swim. Though there are some rocky areas, Driftwood Beach is perfectly fine for taking a dip. Visitors should note that the brownish color of the water is caused by the intense tides that this beach experiences twice a day, as well as the rivers that flow nearby bringing in silt and other microscopic sediment.

Beyond Driftwood Beach, visitors can explore Jekyll Island's Historic District, a 240-acre site with 33 historic structures, including the Jekyll Island Club Resort, which has served as a family retreat since 1888. The area earned its nickname as "Millionaire's Village" many years ago thanks to the wealthy families that once called the island home, including the Pulitzers, Vanderbilts, and Rockefellers. Some of their homes still stand today, waiting to be admired by architecturally inclined visitors.

Though all of Jekyll Island is now a state park, golfing enthusiasts will find 63 holes on four golf courses, plus a mini golf course for some family fun. Meanwhile, outdoorsy visitors can keep busy by kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or taking a guided nature walk on one of the many trails. For a uniquely authentic Georgian adventure, visitors can also try their hand at shrimping or crabbing.

Ancient weatherd pine and live oak trees lost to coastal erosion at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia.
John Coletti/Getty Images

After a full day of outdoor activities, Jekyll Island makes it easy to refuel with plenty of eateries fit for every palette and budget. The island boasts options ranging from casual Mexican restaurants and ice cream shops to fine-dining establishments and more. Driftwood Bistro is a favorite among locals for its classic low country fare, while The Wharf offers the only waterfront dining on the island.

For a beachy getaway that offers something outside of the norm, Driftwood Beach fits the bill for families, couples, and even friend groups looking for a more relaxing vacation. And if a driftwood-filled beach is not your scene, Jekyll Island has six other idyllic beaches to choose from.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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