AMAZING DRIFTWOOD BEACHES OF THE US EAST COAST – WHERE TO FIND THEM

Driftwood beaches of the US East Coast draw visitors with their serenity and beauty. Also called boneyard beaches, they are essentially maritime forests that are being eroded into the ocean. They are created by forces of the Atlantic pounding its way into the woods and knocking down the trees. The waves then continue to wash away all the leaves and bark to the “bone”. As a result, the beach becomes a scene or dramatic shapes, shadows, and constant transformation. These beautiful stretches of sand are a mecca for nature lovers and photographers. I am inviting you to learn about the best driftwood beaches on the Atlantic Ocean: Bulls Island in South Carolina, Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area in South Carolina, Driftwood Beach in Georgia, and Boneyard Beach in Florida, where you will find nature at its best. 

Jekyll Island driftwood beach at sunrise.Driftwood beaches are especially fascinating at sunrise.

AMAZING DRIFTWOOD BEACHES OF THE US EAST COAST – WHERE TO FIND THEM

The first driftwood beach I ever visited was Boneyard Beach in Florida. I immediately fell in love with its captivating beauty.  Since then, I tried to find more fascinating beaches like that. As of now, I visited two more, Botany Bay beach in South Carolina and Driftwood Beach in Georgia.

To my knowledge, these are the only four boneyard beaches on the East Coast. One more is still on my list, Bulls Island, in South Carolina.

Driftwood beaches of the East Coast. Jekyll Island. Bent tree at sunrise.
Beauty and drama unveil at sunrise at driftwood beach on Jekyll Island.

Bulls Island, South Carolina

Out of four driftwood beaches on the East Coast, Bulls Island is the hardest to access. It can only be reached by boat. The Bulls Island Ferry runs year-round, taking passengers to the island from Garris Landing in Awendaw. Following a 30-minute eco-tour through Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, the ferry docks at Bulls Island, and passengers depart to explore the island on their own.

Since I never visited Bull Island, I asked my friend, Jim Cook ( Jim Cook Photography ), to share this experience and pictures from his visit.

Bulls Island, South Carolina, Photo by Jim Cook.
Not easy to get to but breathtaking – Bulls Island, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Jim Cook.
 
Jim Cook tells about his tour with Coastal Expeditions from Charleston South Carolina:
 
“I awoke at 3 AM to drive to the launch site. Almost an hour later, 30 or more photographers boarded the ferry that took us to a drop off site where we then hoisted ourselves onto trailers, which then towed us to the beach. We were there an hour before sunrise and had plenty of time to search out a good spot.
 
Sunrise on Bulls Island, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Jim Cook.
You need to get very early to capture sunrise on Bulls Island, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Jim Cook.
 
No one is allowed to camp overnight on the island; thus, sunrise is kind of a rare event for many. These sunrise photography expeditions are timed to coincide with low tide. The refuge itself encompasses about 66000 acres. Aside from the sunrise, the island is a mecca for birders, wildlife enthusiasts, and beachcombing enthusiasts looking for shells and sand dollars that you won’t find on other beaches. It was truly one of a kind experience. “
 
Bulls Island, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Jim Cook.
My friend Yong exploring Bulls Island, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Jim Cook.

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area, South Carolina

Located approximately 45 miles south of Charleston, just off SC Hwy. 174, Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area are managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

The area is located adjacent to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast corner of Edisto Island in lower Charleston County, South Carolina. It is open for general public visitation during daylight hours (1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset). There is no charge to enter the preserve.

Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina.
This beautiful road will welcome you to  Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina.

The drive to the preserve is an attraction on its own. You will be greeted by Spanish-moss draped live oak trees, pine-needle covered trails and even sunflowers fields. The six-mile loop will take you through woods, marsh areas, and farm fields, Expect the dirt road to be bumpy.

You will need to walk about half a mile through the marsh and maritime forest to reach the water. Watch for the birds, fiddler crabs, and other animals.

Botany Bay Plantation is a perfect destination for a day trip.
You will have the driftwood beach of Botany Bay Plantation to yourself. 

Even though not much physical effort is required to reach it, the beach is practically empty even in high season. This is a perfect place to relax and let your senses thrive. Botany Bay’s beach shows nature at its finest.

Fun in the sun in Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina
Come and enjoy fun in the sun in Botany Bay Plantation in South Carolina.

I only spent a few hours on the beach, but if you are vacationing nearby, it is a perfect day trip. You can use the beach for swimming, just like any other beach. Bring everything with you need with you since there are no facilities in the park. The shells are amazing, although you cannot remove them from the beach.

Botany Bay Plantation, South Carolina. Enjoy but do not remove!
Enjoy the beauty of nature at Botany Bay Plantation, South Carolina, but do not take any souvenirs! 

Driftwood Beach, Georgia

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island in Georgia offers the easiest access out of all the amazing driftwood beaches of the East Coast. It is just a short walk away from the road. Photographers who come here can easily carry all their gear to capture its beauty. Come before the sunrise to witness how the scenery changes with the rays of light.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia.
Fallen trees at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia, reaching the sky.

The beach is located on the northern end of Jekyll Island on N. Beachview Drive between the Clam Creek Picnic Area and Villas by the Sea Resort. (Map of the area with where to park)

Driftwood Beach Georgia. Jekyll Island.
Holding the sun – Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Vehicle entry onto the island requires a valid parking pass, which must be purchased at the entry gate. This pass gives you access to many of the island’s public outdoor areas, including picnic areas, beach parking, and access points.  Multi-day passes are available. Bicycles and pedestrians can enter at no charge

Kids off ages appreciated fallen trees of Driftwood Beach, Georgia.
Kids of ages appreciate the fallen trees of Driftwood Beach, Georgia.

Situated within the chain of the Golden Isles, Jekyll Island is a great tourist destination. As a State Park, Jekyll Island is a coastal haven where offering not only unique beaches but also miles of paved biking paths, water sports excursions, and even a water park.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island does not see a lot of people despite being easily accessible.
Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island does not see a lot of crowds despite being easily accessible.

Boneyard Beach, Florida

Among the East Coast driftwood beaches, Boneyard Beach is the most popular because of its close proximity to Jacksonville, Florida. It can be accessed off A1A and is the northernmost park entrance on Big Talbot Island State Park.
 
The ocean and storms have brought down many trees creating a bone-like appearance. While no longer standing, these trees still have an important job to do. They protect the remaining woods and uplands by breaking the wave energy and slowing further erosion.
 
Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot State Park, Florida.
Witness the erosion in progress at Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot State Park, Florida.
 
The beach is rather close to the road, but access to it is not apparent. Check with the park office how to get there. Be aware that even though you can see the beach from the parking lot, you must walk a trail to the north for roughly a 1/4 mile to enter the beach.  There are no facilities at this location.
 
Sunrise at Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot State Park, Florida.
Come before the sunrise to fully enjoy Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot State Park, Florida.
 
Boneyard Beach is a photographer’s dream and not only for nature photographers. I witness many photo sessions taking place there, including engagement, family photos, and wedding shoots. Despite all of this activity, the beach remained serene. You will have plenty of space to find a secluded spot.
 
Boneyard Beach, Florida welcomes a new day.
Boneyard Beach, Florida welcomes a new day.

Did I cover all the driftwood beaches of the East Coast? Let me know in the comments if I missed any!

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6 thoughts on “AMAZING DRIFTWOOD BEACHES OF THE US EAST COAST – WHERE TO FIND THEM

  1. What about Hunting Island, SC. Haven’t been there for several years, but remember the beauty of the fallen trees

    1. I was there about 20 years ago, and I do not remember fallen trees but I just checked out pictures on the internet and it seems that they are there. I will have to take a closer at the destination. Thank you very much for making me aware of it.!

  2. Hi, Yvonne! Very nice article. I’m looking for smaller pieces of driftwood to use in an art project. Would one of these be better than another? Thanks!

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