One of the most notable barrier islands near Savannah, Georgia is Wassaw Island. Wassaw is a National Wildlife Refuge and is only accessible by boat. I have visited the island countless times on both the north and south end beaches. Without a doubt, the natural piece of land, including the maritime forest, sandy beaches, and wildlife, is beautiful as the island remains undeveloped. Unfortunately, Hurricane Idalia left a notable impact along the shoreline. I had the opportunity to visit Wassaw just five days after the storm passed. Hurricane Idalia caused erosion on Wassaw Island Georgia. 

Wassaw Islands Two Accessible Beaches

What is interesting about Wassaw Island is that it has two direct beach access points. In addition to two primary anchorages, the island is also equipped with a small dock in Wassaw Creek. 

Unquestionably, most boaters who are venturing the Wassaw beaches anchor along the shore as compared to using the dock. The position of the dock requires a lengthy walk to reach the shore. It goes without saying that this is problematic when lugging beach gear. 

For this reason, boaters primarily anchor on the north end beach in Wassaw Sound. Alternatively, others prefer the South end in Ossabaw Sound at the entrance of the Little Ogeechee River. 

I primarily anchor on the south side of the island at the north end of Ossabaw Sound. However, it should be noted that currents during changing tides are swift. Therefore, caution must be taken when dropping the hook and venturing to shore. 

Unfortunately, the east facing portion of the island is not accessible by boat. The eastern coast is lined with sand bars and shallow water, making the approach by boat nearly impossible. However, you will have no issue walking the eastern beach when anchoring at the north or south. 

Beach Erosion At Wassaw Island Georgia

The impacts of storms are highly dependent on a multitude of factors. These factors include wind speed, tide, rain, and more. 

Hurricane Idalia passed near Wassaw Island with sustained winds at tropical storm with hurricane force gusts. The tide, fortunately, was not at its highest point during the strongest winds. For this reason, the seas crested at a lower point along the shore compared to high tide in combination with hurricane force wind. 

Wassaw Island Beach Erosion

Without question, beach erosion was noticeable at Wassaw Island. Based on our visit to the south end five days after the storm, I first noticed where the waterline crested. A one foot high sand wall formed and was well into the beach grass on the inland side of the beach. 

Debris On Wassaw Island Beaches

No matter what beach you visit after a storm, you’re likely to encounter excess debris. The debris ranges from trash to washed up plants and trees. I’ll admit I was concerned about hitting a tree beneath the surface when approaching the beach. 

During our visit, I noticed a significant number of dead horseshoe crabs, starfish, and sand dollars. Additionally, sharp oysters and other shells were more prevalent in comparison to before the storm. 

Lastly, it goes without saying, but there was a tremendous amount of rack and debris from trees. Let’s just say that you need to tread carefully to avoid stepping on anything but sand. 

Shallow Water Along The Southern Beach

Much to my surprise was the depth of the water on my approach by boat to the beach. Most often, I am able to get within ten feet of the sandy shore without being at risk of the hull touching the seafloor below. 

Unfortunately, the water was measuring far more shallow at points 30 to 40 feet from dry land. In fact, I only had 1 foot under the boat, where I would previously measure three to four feet. With that being said, take caution when approaching by vessel. 

Wassaw Island Georgia Was Impacted By Hurricane Idalia

It is safe to say the differences before and after Hurricane Idalia passed were notable. Unfortunately, we cut our beach day short because we were in fear of injuring our feet from the debris strewn sand. It should be noted that the seafloor was pure muck. This is not common on Wassaw. Typically, the seafloor is lined with soft sand. I’ll admit, venturing to the boat to the beach and the beach to the boat was less than ideal. We all were sinking into the muck with every step we took. Soon enough, the shoreline will return to more normal conditions once all the debris has a chance to drift away on the most high tides of the month.