Picture this, golden sands, gentle waves and warm sun on your skin – welcome to Tybee Island, Georgia’s coastal paradise. In this article, we will dive into the charm and allure of this idyllic paradise, located just a stone’s throw from the historic city of Savannah.
- Tybee Island public beaches
- Tybee Island Beach (South Beach)
- Mid Beach
- North Beach
- Savannah River Beach
- Back River Beach
- Little Tybee Island Beach
- Unique things to do in Tybee Island
- Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
- Fort Pulaski National Monument
- Tybee Island Marine Science
- Little Tybee Island
A beloved vacation destination, Tybee Island has captivated generations of visitors with its unique blend of natural beauty, rich history and laid-back vibe.
Whether you’re a beach bum in search of the perfect conch shell, a history buff eager to uncover stories of the past, or a foodie ready to savor local delicacies, Tybee Island is a treasure waiting to be discovered.
Tybee Island public beaches
The island boasts several beautiful beaches, each offering its own unique atmosphere, amenities, and opportunities for adventure. Here’s a detailed look at the island’s top beaches, their locations, and facilities:
Tybee Island Beach (South Beach)
- Location: South end of the island, stretching from 14th Street to 18th Street
- Facilities: Restrooms, showers, changing rooms, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and a nearby parking lot with metered spaces
- Highlights: This popular beach is known for its lively atmosphere, with nearby shops, restaurants, and the Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching. Note that this beach tends to be more crowded, especially during the peak season.
- Location: Along Butler Avenue, between South Beach and North Beach
- Facilities: Limited public facilities, but it’s within walking distance to nearby hotels and vacation rentals
- Highlights: Mid Beach offers a quieter alternative to South Beach, with fewer crowds and a more laid-back atmosphere. This beach is perfect for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, and beachcombing.
- Location: North end of the island, near the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
- Facilities: Restrooms, showers, changing rooms, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and a nearby parking lot with metered spaces
- Highlights: North Beach is a picturesque spot with views of the historic Tybee Lighthouse and easy access to Fort Screven. It’s a great location for birdwatching, shelling, and enjoying a more peaceful beach experience. The nearby North Beach Bar & Grill offers delicious food and refreshing drinks with ocean views.
Savannah River Beach
- Location: North end of the island, adjacent to the Savannah River entrance
- Facilities: Limited public facilities, but it’s within walking distance of North Beach’s amenities
- Highlights: This beach is perfect for those seeking tranquility, as it’s tucked away from the bustling beach scene. Watch ships pass by, spot dolphins playing in the river, or comb the shoreline for unique shells and driftwood.
Back River Beach
- Location: South end of the island, near the mouth of the Back River
- Facilities: Limited public facilities, but it’s close to South Beach’s amenities
- Highlights: Back River Beach is a serene retreat, ideal for kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. Enjoy striking views of Little Tybee Island and watch the sunset paint the sky with vibrant hues as the day comes to a close.
Little Tybee Island Beach
- Location: Uninhabited island situated to the south of Tybee Island, accessible only by boat or kayak
- Facilities: As an undeveloped barrier island, there are no public facilities or amenities available. Visitors should plan to bring their own supplies, including water, food, and any necessary beach gear.
- Highlights: Little Tybee Island offers a pristine, untouched beach experience for nature lovers and adventurers alike. The island’s remote and unspoiled shoreline is perfect for shelling, birdwatching, and fishing. You can also explore the island’s diverse ecosystems, including salt marshes and tidal creeks, which are teeming with wildlife. Be prepared for a true off-the-beaten-path adventure and always practice “Leave No Trace” principles to preserve the island’s natural beauty.
Unique things to do in Tybee Island
There’s plenty to do on Tybee Island, from soaking up the sun on the beach to exploring the island’s history. Here are a few ideas of things to do while you’re on Tybee Island.
Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
Steeped in history and standing tall as Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, the Tybee Island Light Station has guided mariners safely to shore since 1736. Climb its 178 steps to the top and take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the surrounding area.
The adjacent museum, housed in an 1899 Military Battery, showcases fascinating exhibits and artifacts that detail the island’s storied past. Don’t forget to explore the beautifully restored Head Keeper’s Cottage and the Tybee Island Museum grounds.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
A short drive from Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski National Monument is a testament to the island’s rich military history. Constructed between 1829 and 1847, the fort played a pivotal role in the American Civil War and showcases the evolution of military engineering and technology.
Wander through the fort’s well-preserved rooms and corridors, learning about the site’s history through interpretive exhibits and ranger-led programs. The surrounding parkland offers nature trails, birdwatching opportunities, and picturesque picnic spots.
Tybee Island Marine Science
The Tybee Island Marine Science Center is a must-visit for ocean enthusiasts and families alike. Through interactive exhibits, live animal displays, and educational programs, the center aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Georgia’s coastal ecosystem.
Highlights include the touch tank, where visitors can interact with local marine life, and guided beach walks led by knowledgeable naturalists. Be sure to check their calendar for special events and workshops.
Little Tybee Island
Just south of Tybee Island lies Little Tybee Island, an uninhabited barrier island that serves as a pristine nature preserve. Accessible only by boat or kayak, this hidden gem offers miles of unspoiled beaches, lush maritime forests, and flourishing salt marshes.
Ideal for a day trip or camping adventure, Little Tybee Island is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore, with activities like birdwatching, fishing, and beachcombing. Its remote location also makes it a prime spot for stargazing and witnessing awe-inspiring sunsets.
Tybee Island’s natural beauty and coastal charm provide a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of activities and adventures.
Water sports enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to kayak through the meandering salt marshes or try their hand at paddleboarding and surfing on the island’s gentle waves. Fishing aficionados can cast their lines from the pier, join a deep-sea fishing expedition, or embark on a serene sunset boat tour to soak in the area’s picturesque beauty.
On land, discover the island’s diverse flora and fauna along biking and walking trails that weave through maritime forests and coastal landscapes. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of migratory and native bird species found in the area, including egrets, herons, and ospreys.
For an unforgettable marine encounter, hop on a dolphin tour to catch a glimpse of the playful bottlenose dolphins that call the island’s waters home. These guided tours are both fun and educational, offering insight into the local marine ecosystem and the behavior of these fascinating creatures.
Golf enthusiasts will find several nearby golf courses just a short drive from the island, where they can tee off amid stunning coastal scenery and meticulously maintained greens. With a variety of courses to choose from, there’s something for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy.
Tips for a memorable island experience
- Pack wisely: Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, along with comfortable shoes for exploring the island. Don’t forget your swimsuit, beach towel, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
- Respect local customs and the environment: Remember to follow the island’s beach rules, such as avoiding dunes, properly disposing of trash, and respecting wildlife.
- Safety first: Always pay attention to beach flags and lifeguard warnings, and be aware of local conditions such as rip currents or jellyfish.
Best time to visit
The island boasts a mild climate year-round, making it an inviting destination no matter the season. However, the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and interests.
- From May to September, expect warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. These months are perfect for beachgoers, water sports enthusiasts, and those looking to indulge in the island’s vibrant atmosphere. Keep in mind, though, that this is the peak season, and crowds may be larger.
- For a more tranquil experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. The weather is still pleasant, but the island tends to be less crowded, providing a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
- Winter on the island can be quite peaceful, with cooler temperatures and fewer visitors. It’s an ideal time for long beach walks, birdwatching, and exploring the island’s rich history at a leisurely pace.
Hotels: Tybee Island offers a range of hotels to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. From charming boutique hotels boasting coastal-inspired décor to larger establishments with a full range of amenities, you’re sure to find the perfect place to rest your head after a day of island exploration.
Some popular hotel options include the Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island, Desoto Beach Hotel, and Hotel Tybee. Many hotels on the island are conveniently located within walking distance of the beach, local attractions, and dining options.
When booking your accommodation, consider factors such as proximity to the beach, availability of parking, and on-site facilities like pools, restaurants, and beach access to ensure the best possible stay for your needs.
Vacation Rentals: For those seeking a more private and personalized experience, vacation rentals are an excellent choice. The island boasts a variety of rental options, including beachfront homes, cozy cottages, and modern condos.
Vacation rentals often come equipped with all the comforts of home, including fully-stocked kitchens, laundry facilities, and outdoor spaces perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or evening barbecue.
To find the ideal vacation rental for your trip, explore options on websites like VRBO, Airbnb, or local rental agencies such as Tybee Vacation Rentals and Oceanfront Cottage Rentals.
Campgrounds: If you prefer to be immersed in the great outdoors, consider camping on Tybee Island. The Tybee Island Campground, also known as River’s End Campground and RV Park, offers a variety of options for campers, including tent sites, RV sites with full hookups, and rustic cabins.
The campground is conveniently located just a short walk from the beach and Tybee Island’s main attractions, making it an ideal base for your island adventure. Amenities include a swimming pool, bathhouses, laundry facilities, a camp store, and Wi-Fi.
For a more secluded camping experience, consider venturing to nearby Little Tybee Island. As an uninhabited nature preserve, it allows primitive camping in designated areas, offering a unique opportunity to connect with nature in a serene, undisturbed setting. Be sure to pack all necessary supplies, as there are no facilities on the island, and always follow Leave No Trace principles.
How to get to Tybee Island?
Although Tybee Island feels like a world away, it’s conveniently located just 18 miles east of the enchanting city of Savannah. Embrace the scenic drive, as lush marshes and the picturesque Lowcountry landscape unfold before your eyes, beckoning you closer to your coastal haven.
- From Savannah: To reach Tybee Island from Savannah, head east on President Street (US-80 E) and continue straight for about 18 miles. As you cross the Lazaretto Creek Bridge, you’ll be greeted by the island’s iconic welcome sign. Follow the road until you reach the island’s roundabout, which will connect you to different parts of Tybee.
- From Atlanta: If you’re coming from Atlanta, take I-75 S and then merge onto I-16 E toward Savannah. Once you’re in Savannah, take Exit 167A onto Chatham Parkway and turn right on W Bay Street, which becomes US-80 E. Continue along US-80 E for approximately 18 miles to reach Tybee Island.
- From Jacksonville: Travelers from Jacksonville can take I-95 N to Exit 99A, merging onto I-16 E towards Savannah. In Savannah, take Exit 167A onto Chatham Parkway and turn right on W Bay Street, which becomes US-80 E. Continue for about 18 miles to reach Tybee Island.
By Public Transportation
- Chatham Area Transit (CAT) provides bus service from Savannah to Tybee Island via Route 4 (Tybee Island). The bus operates daily, with limited schedules on weekends and holidays. For detailed schedules and fares, visit the CAT website.
- The Tybee Island Shuttle is another option, offering door-to-door service from Savannah to Tybee Island. This shuttle service is available by reservation, with pricing dependent on the number of passengers and pickup location.
Several companies in Savannah offer guided tours to Tybee Island, which typically include transportation to and from the island, along with guided visits to attractions such as the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and Fort Pulaski National Monument. These tours are a hassle-free way to explore Tybee Island’s highlights with knowledgeable guides.
If you’re up for an adventure, consider biking from Savannah to Tybee Island. The ride is approximately 18 miles, and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the Lowcountry marshlands. Be sure to plan your route carefully, as some portions of US-80 E may not have designated bike lanes.
The closest airport to Tybee Island is Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV). Once you’ve arrived, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or use rideshare services to reach Tybee Island, which is about a 45-minute drive away.
In conclusion, Tybee Island is a coastal haven that caters to a variety of interests, whether you’re seeking sun-soaked relaxation or thrilling adventures. Its unique blend of natural beauty, history, and local charm makes it a must-visit destination for travelers near and far.
Now that you have a glimpse of what this enchanting island has to offer, it’s time to embark on your own journey to paradise. So pack your bags, and let the warm sands and soothing ocean breeze whisk you away to an unforgettable Tybee Island experience.