Spend A River Day in The Savannah Area
When you think of a day on the water, don’t just think of the beach! Another great way to cool off from the summer heat and enjoy the great outdoors is to spend time on one of the rivers or creeks in the area.
First is the Ogeechee River, which is a beautiful 294-mile-long blackwater river in Georgia that offers a variety of activities, such as kayaking, fishing, boating, and duck hunting throughout the year. Its largest tributary is the Canoochee River, and it is one of the state’s few free-flowing streams with a watershed of 5,540 square miles.
Enjoy a day of kayaking, canoeing or jon boating- whether you stop to do some fishing in the summer or duck hunt in the fall/winter. Fishing enthusiasts can also enjoy the numerous fish species that call the river home as they fish up and down the river.
If you prefer a more laid-back outing, the sandy beaches on the bankare a great place to relax and take in the scenery. Soak up the sun, take a refreshing dip in the cool water, and bring your four-legged friends for an exciting day on the water!
Little Ogeechee River
The Little Ogeechee River, a river of notable length, bears two namesakes The Little Ogeechee River and 3 Mile Creek. Originating from southern Effingham County, it flows through the heart of Georgia, ultimately reaching Chatham County, where it becomes tidal near U.S. Route 17. The river is a remarkable sight to behold as it widens and gracefully crosses under Georgia State Route 204 before finally ending its journey at Ossabaw Sound, covering a total distance of 42.8 miles.
South Channel Savannah River
Nearby you also have the Savannah River, which spans over 300 miles from its origins in the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia mountains to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina and drains a vast watershed of over 10,000 square miles. The river passes through four distinct regions, each with unique ecosystems ranging from agricultural tracts to swamplands and marine marshes. Tidal action affects water levels and flows approximately 45 miles upstream from the mouth, and the river broadens into a marine estuary before flowing into the ocean near Tybee Island.
The Savannah River is a fun spot to visit during special occasions like the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights or during the annual 4th of July fireworks on the river. It also offers great docking options. Rousakis Riverfront Plaza is open to the public and offers the first three hours of docking for free. To the east of Rousakis sits the Eastern Wharf dock. Hop out at either one and explore all that River Street in Downtown Savannah has to offer. The Savannah River is a lot stronger, wider and deeper so if you are wanting to hop out for a swim, this isn’t the river for you.
While most boaters don’t hang out in the Savannah River long due to the large container ships coming in and out of the ports, the South Channel Savannah River offers plenty of reasons for a visit including an up close view of those larger container ships. Shark Tooth Island also sits in the middle of the river at the access point to South Carolina’s intercoastal waterway. Shark Tooth Island is fun for a Saturday of archaeological digging. Frequentists have uncovered ancient megalodon shark teeth that have risen to the surface of the mud due to the dredging of the rive
Bull River is around 8 miles long and it’s a tidal river located in Chatham County, east of Savannah. If you’re up for adventure, start your journey at the north end where it connects with St. Augustine Creek and the Wilmington River, which eventually leads to the Savannah River. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, head to the south end where you can explore Wassaw Sound that opens up to the vast Atlantic Ocean. It’s also the perfect spot for water skiing, tubing, and wakeboarindg. And it’s definitely a must-visit river, if you’re into fishing.
The Wilmington River is one of Savannah’s longest rivers at 17.3 miles. It flows through Chatham County, passing by the shrimping city of Thunderbolt. It’s a popular river for fishing as well, especially off of the W.E. Honey Park Pier in Thunderbolt and provides access to many of Savannah’s boat clubs and marinas as it passes between many of the city’s residential islands. The private and exclusive Savannah Yacht Club (Whitemarsh Island) as well as the Landings Harbor Marina (Skidaway Island) sit along the Wilmington River, making it one of the busiest rivers in Savannah. At its north end, it connects with the Savannah River, and it eventually ends in Wassaw Sound, which is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Here you’ll find much to explore with the barrier islands that can only be reached by boat: Little Tybee Island and Wassaw Island. If you’re looking for a fun route to explore, the Wilmington River is definitely worth checking out!
The Herb River is a perfectly quiet tidal river in Georgia, stretching for about 8 miles. It is situated in Chatham County, near the southeastern part of Savannah. The river connects with the Wilmington River to the north and wraps around the Wylly Island neighborhood towards the south ending in run off to Shipyard Creek. It’s perfect loop around Wylly Island makes it idyllic for a fun day of drifting on the water. A less traversed river, it is a hidden gem for those who like to grab an oversized float, a cool drink, and relax in calmer waters. It’s also great for stand-up paddle boarding.
The Skidaway River is a fascinating tidal river on the intercoastal waterway of Georgia that flows for about 8.4 miles. It’s central to all of the rivers as it passes through Chatham County, southeast of the Savannah city limits. It’s the perfect river for accessing all of Savannah’s most private beaches on the barrier islands of coastal Georgia. At its north end, it connects to the Wilmington River, which provides access to northern Wassaw Island and the south end of Little Tybee Island. The river flows southwest through Skidaway Narrows and ends at Moon River, which ultimately leads to Wassaw Island and Ossabaw Island. The neighborhoods of Skidaway Island lie to the east, while the Dutch Island and Isle of Hope communities are on the west side of the river. Butter Bean Beach is located off the Skidaway River and provides a perfect entry point for boats or even just a day of floating or fishing on the river.
Although it may appear so, Moon River is, in fact not wider than a mile. You probably recognize the name of this tidal river from the song named after it. Johnny Mercer wrote Moon River, which was featured in the cinematic classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. His childhood home overlooked Moon River on Burnside Island, of which this 4.6-mile-long river flows around connecting the Skidway River with the Vernon River. Moon River is a frequented waterway that provides easy access for Burnside Island and Skidaway Island residents to boat to the beaches on Wassaw or Ossabaw Islands. Visiting these islands make for perfect day trips for those who want to avoid the busier Tybee Island beach or who enjoy being inundated with the sights and sounds all these protected nature sanctuaries have to offer.
The Vernon River is another great waterway with both busier and calmer sections. This 12.4-mile-long tidal river flows through marshes and meets with the busier Little Ogeechee River, which dumps out between Wassaw and Ossabaw Island. Further inland towards the Halcyon Bluff neighborhood and Vernonburg, its one of the calmest rivers in Savannah, making it perfect for paddle boarding or kayaking. Additionally, the Vernon River plays an important role in draining approximately 40% of the City of Savannah, as urban and suburban runoff from Wilshire Canal, Harmon Canal, Casey Canal, and Hayners Creek, which all contribute to the river. It is loved by nature enthusiasts for its abundant wildlife. As you venture out towards the Atlantic, you can catch glimpses of dolphins and otters swimming in the creeks along the way. These waterways are part of the Ogeechee River watershed as well.
Remember the Protect The Vernon project we mentioned in our “Hands-on Savannah: Making a Difference through Volunteering” blog? You can still volunteer with Ogeechee River Keeper to assist in their effort to keep our waterways clean and hospitable for not only ourselves but for our local wildlife!