About the Refuge

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Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) serves as an important link in the chain of barrier islands that lie along the Atlantic Flyway, providing excellent habitat for a variety of migratory birds.


Wassaw, one of Georgia's coastal barrier islands, was designated a National Wildlife Refuge on October 20, 1969. Unlike many of Georgia's Golden Isles, little development and few management practices have modified Wassaw's primitive character. The 10,053-acre refuge includes beaches with rolling dunes, live oak and slash pine woodlands, and vast salt marshes.

Refuge visitors may enjoy recreational activities such as birdwatching, beachcombing, hiking, and general nature studies. The 20 miles of dirt roads on Wassaw Island and seven miles of beach provide an ideal wildlife trail system for hikers. Birdwatching is particularly fruitful during the spring and fall migrations.

The island supports rookeries for egrets and herons, and several species of wading birds are abundant in the summer months. In summer, telltale tracks on Wassaw's beach attest to nocturnal visits by the threatened loggerhead sea turtles that come ashore for egg laying and then return to sea.

Deer hunts (both bow and gun) are scheduled in the fall and winter (click here for refuge hunt information). The saltwaters of the refuge marshlands are open to fishing throughout the year (click here to download refuge fishing regulations).

Wassaw NWR is accessible only by boat, and transportation to the refuge is not provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Visitors may use their own boats to reach the refuge or arrangements can be made through local boat captains and charter services. Several local marinas in the Savannah area (at Skidaway Island and Isle of Hope) and a public boat ramp adjacent to the Skidaway Island bridge can serve as launching sites for trips to Wassaw. Only Wassaw Island is open to the public, daily from sunrise to sunset; all other upland areas of the refuge are closed.

Please remember that pets of any kind are NOT permitted anywhere on the refuge. This includes dogs that are leashed. This rule is strictly enforced to ensure protection of refuge wildlife and habitat, which is the primary mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service.