Hunting Island beach - View of ocean, beach, palms and driftwood

The Southeast’s five most ethereal driftwood beaches

Sculpted by the sea

From the sun-bleached shores of South Carolina to the dramatic coastlines of Georgia and Florida, the Southeastern United States is home to some of the most visually stunning beaches in the world. These aren’t your typical sandy retreats; they are landscapes transformed by nature’s artistry, where driftwood and boneyard beaches create otherworldly scenes that draw photographers, nature lovers and adventurers. Join us as we uncover the quiet majesty and raw beauty of five coastal treasures where nature’s past and present merge in dramatic displays.

Hunting Island beach 

Sea Island Parkway, Hunting Island 

Hunting Island features a striking boneyard beach where sun-bleached tree skeletons and driftwood create a hauntingly beautiful coastal scene. Located 50 miles from Hilton Head Island, this beach draws visitors with its dynamic landscape, a vivid reminder of coastal change. Ideal for photographers and nature lovers, the beach is best explored during low tide to fully appreciate its dramatic appearance. Nearby trails also offer views of the marshes, lighthouse and dense maritime forest. Visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment by not removing driftwood or artifacts.

High tide at sunset on Hunting Island, South Carolina.

Bulls Island beach

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge near Awendaw

The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, located approximately 95 miles from Hilton Head, spans 66,287 acres, featuring diverse habitats such as water impoundments, creeks, bays, salt marshes and barrier islands. Bulls Island, the largest island within the refuge, is noted for its striking boneyard beach with weathered trees and driftwood. Access is via ferry from Garris Landing, operating on a set schedule. Visitors are advised to bring water and sunscreen due to limited amenities and to explore the island’s trails for a full experience of its serene natural beauty and wildlife.

meditative seascape at Boneyard Beach on Bull Island in South Carolina at sunrise

Boneyard Beach

Big Talbot Island State Park, Florida

Boneyard Beach, stretching over a mile within Big Talbot Island State Park near Fernandina Beach, Florida, is renowned for its striking scenery featuring the bleached skeletons of oak trees that line the shores. Park archaeologists also have unearthed fossilized mammoth bones there, some as large as the trees themselves. Situated south of Amelia Island along the First Coast Highway, 168 miles from HHI, this beach is not ideal for swimming but offers ample opportunity for exploration. Given Florida’s intense heat and humidity, visitors should come prepared with sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water, especially since the beach offers little shade. For a more pleasant experience, plan a visit during the cooler early mornings or in the winter months.

Big Talbot Island State Park Florida. Two exposure blend. Sunset and night.

Botany Bay beach

Botany Bay Road, Edisto Island 

Located about 85 miles from Hilton Head Island, Botany Bay Heritage Preserve is a conservation area that was established from the merging of the Sea Cloud and Bleak Hall plantations in the 1930s. The preserve, opened to the public in 2008, includes several sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, like the 1840s outbuildings and ancient Fig Island shell rings. Accessible via a scenic half-mile trail through a marsh and maritime forest, the boneyard beach showcases a dramatic landscape of sun-bleached, fallen trees and still tide pools. It’s a haven for wildlife watching and photography, especially striking during low tide or in the soft light of early morning or late afternoon. Visitors should note that collecting shells or driftwood is prohibited. Dogs are not allowed, and the preserve is closed on Tuesdays for hunting.

Botany Bay Sunrise at Edisto Island, South Carolina

Driftwood Beach

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island is known for its striking, surreal landscape that resembles more of an outdoor art gallery than a typical beach. This shoreline, located 120 miles from Hilton Head, is dotted with large driftwood formations, lending an otherworldly atmosphere to the area. Its east-facing orientation makes it an ideal spot for sunrise photography, capturing the early light as it illuminates the dramatic driftwood. Visitors should consult tide charts prior to their trip, as high tides can significantly alter the accessible areas of the beach. Due to its popularity, consider visiting during weekdays to enjoy a quieter experience amidst this natural wonder.

Driftwood Beach sunrise in Jekyll Island, Georgia, GA, USA.

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