Published February 22, 2019 2/22/2019

10 Best Places in Georgia to Camp by the Water

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Spring, summer, and fall are all wonderful times to go camping in Georgia, especially if you love spending time in the great outdoors and away from the stresses of city life. There are many great state parks and private campgrounds throughout the state, but some of the very best camping spots are right along the water. On Georgia’s lakes and oceanfront areas, you can find beach camping experiences along the Atlantic coast, island sites with plenty of privacy, and lively parks with lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Camping by the water means opportunities to go swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, boating, or just simply enjoy the peaceful waves. So, before your warm weather weekends begin to fill up too much, keep in mind these best places in Georgia to camp by the water!

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Lake Lanier Islands, Buford View of Lake Lanier from a Hammock
View of Lake Lanier from a Hammock

Lake Lanier Islands, Buford

Located in Buford, Lake Lanier is one of the most popular places to set up camp near the water in the state of Georgia. There are actually three campgrounds here: Blue Ridge Campground, Chestnut Ridge Campground, and Shoal Creek Campground. For the best lake views, book a site at Shoal Creek. Here you’ll find both electric hookup and primitive sites, as well as restrooms with showers, grills, and picnic tables. But if you plan to boat, choose the Chestnut Ridge Campground for its easy boat ramp access. Meanwhile, Blue Ridge has lakefront sites as well and a fishing pier. It’s easy to please everyone in your group with a camping trip to Lake Lanier because there is a spa, water park, and golf nearby for entertainment and relaxation.

Jekyll Island Campground, Jekyll Island Bird Sanctuary at Jeckyll Island Campground
Credit: mwms1916
Bird Sanctuary at Jeckyll Island Campground

Jekyll Island Campground, Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is a popular vacation destination in Georgia, but camping there allows you to experience the island in a whole new way. The iconic driftwood formations at Driftwood Beach set the stage for a wonderful evening walk before heading back to your tent or RV. The Jekyll Island Campground is located on the northern end of the island and has both RV and primitive sites available for campers. There are 208 campsites near Driftwood Beach, and some of the RV sites even have cable TV and Wi-Fi access. In addition to spending time on the miles of beaches here, there are also some great dining and shopping opportunities here. Once you’ve arrived on Jekyll, you can rely on the bike you brought along or rent one here to get around on the awesome network of trails.

Skidaway Island State Park, Savannah Trees at Skidaway Island
Credit: G. Dawson
Trees at Skidaway Island

Skidaway Island State Park, Savannah

Savannah is a very popular weekend destination in Georgia, with all its shops, restaurants, and historic sightseeing tours. However, you can make your trip to Savannah a little more adventurous and outdoorsy by booking a campsite at Skidaway Island State Park. You won’t have to drive too far outside of town to reach the park, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away once you arrive. The park is filled with beautiful Spanish moss hanging on the trees, and the intercostal waterway is full of life and native habitats. Come to this campground for great hiking experiences during the day and a peaceful retreat from the crowds at night.

Oconee River Campground, Greensboro Middle Oconee River
Credit: Ezra S F
Middle Oconee River

Oconee River Campground, Greensboro

But remember, camping by the water isn’t just about oceans and lakes. For an intimate riverside camping experience, head to the Oconee River Campground. There are only five tent camping sites here but easy access to the water. There’s a boat launch available and hiking and picnicking opportunities as well. Facilities are very limited though, so bring enough drinking water along for your camping trip. Drinking water is not available at the sites; however, the main road through the campground is paved. This is a very budget-friendly camping trip because sites are just $5 per night. The nearest town is approximately 13 miles southeast of here in Greensboro, so this where you can find restaurants and grocery stores.

Rivers End Campground & RV Park, Tybee Island Rivers End Campground
Rivers End Campground

Rivers End Campground & RV Park, Tybee Island

When you camp at Rivers End, you’ll only be a couple blocks from the beach, which makes it ideal for Tybee Island visitors who want to spend most of their time in the sand. Campers have a lot of options here because the campground is tent-friendly, RV-friendly, and even has cabins to rent. Everything from full-hookup sites to primitive sites are available and very accommodating. Come here for easy access to several miles of lovely beaches and to explore the best that Tybee Island has to offer. The campground is close to the beach and to downtown Savannah, which makes it ideal for families who want to minimize transportation hassles on their camping weekends.

Sea Camp, Cumberland Island National Seashore Driftwood on Beach Cumberland Island National Seashore
Driftwood on Beach Cumberland Island National Seashore

Sea Camp, Cumberland Island National Seashore

Sea Camp is the most popular place to camp on Cumberland Island but make your reservation early because these campsites fill up quickly.  But anyone who’s curious about what Georgia’s islands have to offer simply must see the free-roaming horses on the beach. This is one of the most unique experiences you’ll have anywhere in the state and truly beautiful and wild. You may even see the wild horses grazing around your tent when you wake up in the morning! Sea Camp costs between $4 per person to $22 per campsite depending on the season. Another nice camping area on Cumberland Island is the Stafford Beach Campground. This is a good area to find backcountry sites, and there are even some restrooms for guests to use. You’ll need to hop on a boat or ferry to reach Cumberland Island, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can kayak to get here!

Cabretta Campground, Sapelo Island Beach at Sapelo Island
Beach at Sapelo Island

Cabretta Campground, Sapelo Island

One of the lesser-known islands off the coast of Georgia is Sapelo Island, and this is a serene and unique place to pitch a tent. The island can only be reached by ferry or boat, so this isn’t a place for RVs. But if you have a tent and are looking for peace and seclusion, Sapelo Island is one of the best places to go. The Cabretta Campground in the R.J. Reynolds Wildlife Refuge is rustic and very close to the sandy dunes. This is a campground meant for groups of 15 to 25 campers in a group, and it’s just a short walk from the beach. Come here to beat the crowds of Georgia’s other coastal destinations and to really experience how wild this great state used to be before so much development took over. Otherwise, there are no hotels on the island, just a few vacation rental properties where visitors typically stay.

Little Tybee Island Little Tybee Island
Little Tybee Island

Little Tybee Island

Little Tybee Island is unique because it’s an uninhabited barrier island with pristine beaches and salt water marshes. There are no hotels or other buildings here, but camping is allowed. You’ll need to have your own boat or kayak to reach the island, which dramatically reduces the number of crowds here. However, local charter services will take you here if you don’t have your own boat or prefer to book a tour. Birdwatching enthusiasts love this spot because you can sometimes see rare species like the curlew sandpiper, roseate spoonbill, and bald eagles here. Campers should stay away from nesting sites and set up elsewhere to preserve the birds’ habitats, but the island is open to campers year-round.

Fort Yargo State Park, Winder Fort Yargo State Park lake view
Credit: Thomson200
Fort Yargo State Park lake view

Fort Yargo State Park, Winder

Fort Yargo State Park has a little bit of everything for outdoor recreation – 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, a large lake for water sports and beach time, and camping as well. This is a well-developed campground that puts you very close to the water for swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking. There are also lakeside yurts if you prefer to go the glamping route. There are 38 campsites, 13 cabins, six yurts, and three cottages here. The park is located between Atlanta and Athens and spans 1,816 acres in size.

High Falls State Park, Macon Glamping yurts at High Falls campground
Glamping yurts at High Falls campground

High Falls State Park, Macon

Camp here to be near the tallest cascading waterfall that’s south of Atlanta and drop in a line at one of the best fishing destinations in the Southeast. It’s easy to spend time on the lake here because there boat ramps, boat rentals, and fishing docks. There’s a spacious campground here with 100 sites and also six lakeside yurts that are perfect for glamping. In the summer months, there’s even a swimming pool here for guests to cool off. Some fun summer events hosted by the state park include a canoe twilight paddle, stand-up paddleboarding for beginners, and kayaking 101.

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