Driftwood Beach: Jekyll Island’s Northern Tree Necropolis

February 9, 2016

On the northern end of Jekyll Island lies a tranquil beach where weathered aesthetics combine with a haunting sense of desolation along the shoreline from the Atlantic Ocean to St. Simons Sound. That long stretch of water’s edge is known locally as Driftwood Beach.

Driftwood Beach is a must-see for anyone visiting Jekyll Island. Named for the countless expired trees scattered along the shores, Driftwood Beach presents coastal explorers with a thousand photo opportunities and memorable vistas, all from a single location off North Beachview Drive. The arborous decor protruding from the sand also creates a ligneous labyrinth for beach explorers to navigate their way through, around, under and over.

The driftwood environment is the result of Jekyll’s northernmost beach being slowly eroded away. The shoreline we can see today would most likely be gone if Jekyll were affected by non-stop waves, but the fact that Jekyll is situated in shallow waters and far from the Atlantic’s continental shelf means waves are minuscule by the time they reach Jekyll’s beaches. This results in slowly formed tidal coastlines, creating enough devastation to kill trees residing too close to shore, but without the force necessary to keep the beaches clean by carrying debris out to sea.

driftwood beach 6 blue copyKnown by some as Jekyll’s tree graveyard, Driftwood Beach is sure to evoke a sense of poignant reflection for anyone walking amongst these long-lapsed coastal trees. Getting to Driftwood Beach is easy; the beach can be accessed at several points along Jekyll’s North Beachview Drive. The beach also extends from Villas by the Sea Resort and Conference Center to the Clam Creek Picnic Area, putting roughly two miles between the two landmarks on Jekyll’s north end.

Looking north toward St. Simons Island from Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.
Looking north toward St. Simons Island from Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.

Driftwood Beach may seem a little eerie, especially during the off-season when the entire beach is one long, deserted span of dead trees; even more so with the occasional cawing crow overlooking beachgoers from dead limbs above. If you’re into haunting coastal scenery, and you’re near Jekyll Island, make sure you check out Driftwood Beach. And if you happen to have a proton pack hanging up in the garage, be sure to bring it along – just in case.

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