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Dreaming about a unique family-friendly beach vacation or romantic getaway to Tybee Island? But first, you need to know the best things to do in Tybee Island, Georgia!
Want to know about the best seafood restaurant, the best Tybee vacation rental, and Tybee’s secret beach?
You’ve come to the right place, sister!
But where is Tybee Island?
This quirky little beach town is located in Chatham County, just a short drive from Historic Savannah, and 50 miles south of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It’s very close to the Golden Isles and part of our Coastal Georgia Road Trip series.
Whether it’s a family vacation or a romantic getaway of beachcombing or Tybee Island history hunting, you’ll never get bored on this island…..
This article will help you with the best stress-free Tybee Island itinerary so you can focus on what matters most… spending time with your people!
Oh, and don’t miss the “know before you go” tips near the end.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN TYBEE ISLAND GEORGIA
Tybee Island Beach is often called Savannah’s beach, but while nearby, it has its own laid-back beach vibe.
At only three miles in size but packs a punch with multiple souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and charming Caribbean-colored cottages.
Year after year, Tybee gains popularity for summer vacation beach trips and winter retreats.
Celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, David Hasselhoff, Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, John Mellencamp, The Rock have enjoyed it for leisure and filming movies.
Let’s explore Tybee Island, y’all…..
GET LOST AT FORT PULASKI NATIONAL MONUMENT
Fort Pulaski National Monument was built to defend Savannah from attacks and invasion.
It’s amazing the technology that was used and the military history that was built here between 1829 and 1847.
During the American Civil War, the Union Army tried out rifled cannons for the first time against Fort Pulaski’s brick fortification in 1862 and was successful. Today, the fort shows this history and nature to all. As you head out the back of the Fort Pulaski, one cannonball remains amid the dozens of holes in the wall.
Definitely follow the Lighthouse Trail which is a leisurely, flat stroll that leads to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse.
Insider Tip: It is now unlawful to approach this historic lighthouse as it’s a fragile beauty built on an oyster bed. See more info about Fort Pulaski HERE.
CLIMB HISTORIC TYBEE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Tybee Island Light Station and museum is a must-see.
It’s the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Georgia, dating back to 1736. Some say it’s one of the most intact, historic lighthouses that remain in America!
In fact, it’s one of only seven Colonial-era lighthouses in the country!
The Tybee Island Lighthouse herself stands 145 feet tall. From the top, not only can you see the ocean and river, you can see all the way to Hilton Head Island.
Insider Tips: There is a large parking area that is free for those who buy tickets to climb to the top. Each ticket includes a walk to the top of the lighthouse, one cottage, and the Battery Garland Museum. See more details HERE.
JOIN THE FUN AT TYBEE BEACHES & PIER
There are several different areas of Tybee Island Beaches.
North Beach is near the Tybee Lighthouse and there are great bathrooms and a nearby restaurant and ice cream. Visit this beach for quiet and relaxation.
In the middle of the island, you’ll find Mid Beach, with its wide beach and plenty of shallow water for children to enjoy. Those seeking seashells will love it here!
South Beach is the loudest and busiest beach entrance on the island. If you want to be where the action is, this is your jam. However, it’s not my favorite beach at all!
Back River Beach is the amazing secret beach I told you about that sports a secluded fishing pier and beaches. With only a handful of people there at all times, it’s the perfect place for a beach novel.
Tybee Island Fishing Pier and Pavilion are located on 16th street and full of life and energy. This area has plenty of bathrooms, a full concession, and is handicap accessible!
Insider tips: Everyone should visit the Tybee Pier & Pavilion at least once to see all the fun being had! Also, be careful with the strong currents especially at south beach.
RIDE BIKES AROUND THE ISLAND
Can you ride bikes on Tybee Island?
Absolutely! And bike rentals are easy!
This island town is only three miles long with flat ground and a multitude of bike lanes that make it very bike-friendly.
Get your bike delivered right to your vacation rental or hotel and ask for beach tires!
Insider Tips: Those over 16 years old must wear a helmet on Tybee. And it’s illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk.
DIVE INTO TYBEE ISLAND MARINE SCIENCE CENTER LEARNING
If your family loves marine life, then the Tybee Island Marine Science Center is your go-to spot!
Have you ever been close to horseshoe, fiddler, or hermit crabs? How about loggerhead turtles or a floating classroom for dolphin encounters?
Experience all of those intriguing animals and more with touch tanks, aquariums, and guided beach tours!
Insider Tip: Call ahead to Tybee Island Marine Center to check tour sizes and hours since the pandemic has limited space to centers like this!
GET ADVENTUROUS WITH WATER SPORTS & TOURS
The amount of sports and tours on the water are endless on Tybee Island.
The back river and salt marshes of Tybee are beautiful worlds that few have experienced!
Catch one of the exciting dolphin tours or sunset tours with Captain Mike. Or catch a fun salt marsh paddle tour with Sea Kayak!
Get on a waterways adventure on a stand-up paddleboard. East Coast Paddleboarding starts each tour with basic skills for beginners, and takes you up close to nature and wildlife!
Insider Tip: Don’t forget the sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
ESCAPE TO “LITTLE TYBEE ISLAND
Owned by the state of Georgia, Little Tybee Island is an uninhabited barrier island that sits just below the tip of Tybee Island.
Twice the size of Tybee, I’m not sure why it’s called “little” but it’s worth a trip for the adventurous!
Only accessible by boat or kayak, there are folks like Tybee Island Charters that will transport you. On Little Tybee, enjoy shelling, nature hiking, bird-watching, and fishing.
Insider Tip: With Tybee Island Charters, book the exquisite sunset picnic dinner on Little Tybee!
DIRECTIONS TO TYBEE ISLAND
When traveling from Savannah, it’s easy to get there with your own car, taxi, rideshare options, shuttle, or bus.
From Downtown Savannah to Tybee, it’s an 18-mile road trip. If you are driving in from the Savannah airport, add 12 miles. Depending on traffic, it will be about a 15 to 27-minute drive.
A taxi ride from Savannah airport to Tybee will run approximately $39 to $50. Or grab a rideshare service from Downtown Savannah for about $30.
PLACES TO EAT IN TYBEE ISLAND?
There is no lack of food, drinks, or desserts around here. Let me share what I feel are the best restaurants on Tybee Island…
For the best cup o’ joe, make your way to Tybean Art and Coffee Bar. This eclectic cottage with so much more than coffee will make you want to stay awhile!
Looking for the freshest seafood, but without the crowds?
Head around the back river of the island for what I call our favorite hideaway restaurant. A-J’s Dockside Restaurant has the best appetizers and entrees. Get the buffalo fried shrimp!
Got a sweet tooth?
Head to the iconic Sugar Shack for creative ice cream flavors and fun outdoor seating. It has served scores of customers for 45 years since the early days as an ice cream stand!
Insider Tip: Keep in mind that Tybean Art and Coffee Bar closes daily at noon!
WHERE TO STAY ON TYBEE ISLAND?
I know that my greatest source of stress when visiting a new destination is choosing the accommodation.
That’s why I’m sharing my honest opinion of the best Tybee vacation rentals and hotels.
Since Tybee is a touristy destination, there are many hotels, cottages, and B&Bs to choose from. Everyone needs something different, so I share my thoughts below.
Choices for each category and details @ why they were chosen:
Tybee Hotel: Hotel Tybee (budget option)
Tybee Hotel is a typical large condo structure. If you want a deal and don’t mind lots of folks around, this may be for you.
- 2-star hotel
- close to Tybee Pier
- walk to restaurants & shopping
- new amenities of bikes & beach chairs
- 2 outdoor pools
- tiki bar
- direct beach access
- pet friendly
- older hotel
Insider tip: There is a $30 parking/ amenity fee at the time of writing this article. The staff admits that this is not a resort (part of the name when the new owner purchased it that could not be changed). The current owner is working tirelessly to renovate but some guests have complained about older rooms. My advice is to ask for a new room when booking.
Boutique Hotel: Admiral’s Inn Tybee Island (moderate)
Admiral’s Inn Tybee Island is a small, unfussy 3-star hotel with unexpected amenities that elevate it to a moderate status.
- very clean
- tight parking lot when full
- close to Tybee Pier
- close to Marine Science Center
- three minute walk to the beach
Tybee Bed and Breakfast: Beachview Inn & Spa (upscale)
If you want a bit of privacy, luxury, and attention to detail, Beachview Inn & Spa is the place to be.
- thirteen unique rooms
- luxurious linens + beach amenities + bikes
- Java & Juice cafe located next door
- large rooms with sitting areas and porches
- on-site spa with 5 types of massage
Tybee vacation rental: (varies in price)
Mermaid Cottages Tybee vacation rental company has a great reputation or choose your own Airbnb or Vrbo house or cottage.
SHOPPING IN TYBEE ISLAND?
If you are looking for some groceries, souvenirs or almost anything else and don’t find it on this island, you weren’t looking hard enough.
The island has a full choice of grocery stores, art galleries, beachwear shops, boutiques, and more!
You’ve got to check out the Fish Art Gallerie, Seaside Sisters, Red Clover, and Time’s Bike and Beach Gear.
TYBEE BEACH GEAR & MORE YOU MAY NEED
Want a great Tybee Island read on your stress-free vacation? How about a cozy mystery known as Terror on Tybee Island? You may prefer more of a historical glimpse of “Savannah’s beach town” in Tybee Island Images of America.
My favorite Tybee beach gear is this huge 9′ x 10′ Sandfree Beach Blanket and Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding All Terrain Utility Beach Wagon.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SAVANNAH?
Haven’t visited nearby Savannah, Georgia yet and want to check out America’s Most Haunted City?
Get your spook on with Sense World Historic Ghosts & Cemetery Tours.
Want to travel back to Savannah to piddle around? Check out these posts so you don’t miss a thing!
The short answer is yes. Several of the reasons, in my opinion, are listed in my YouTube channel video above. Fort Pulaski, Cockspur Island Lighthouse, Back River Beach, and A-J’s. I will add that I prefer a quieter island and have been spoiled by one a couple (more on that beach coming up soon on this road trip).
If you want to spend most of your time outdoors, April and May are the best months for sunshine without extreme heat. I love the beach in the fall and winter also, therefore, October and November have less people and cooler temps without being too cold.
Yes. To my knowledge, all restaurants and other businesses are open for business post-pandemic. However, please be patient as they are implementing new policies and procedures for dine-in and takeout options.
Yes. Glass bottles and large containers are prohibited to keep a family-friendly atmosphere. But be aware that Spring Break and summer vacations brings lots of folks wanting to party. I personally avoid busy seasons, festivals, and beaches for this reason.
No. Pets are not allowed on any of the beaches of Tybee.
BEFORE YOU GO
There are a couple of important things to know about Tybee.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find free public parking on the island from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on any day.
Make sure that your beach house rental or condo includes a paid parking space or you will pay a pay-and-display meter elsewhere.
Enforcement of the parking rules are strictly followed, so don’t get a ticket!
Tybee Island Georgia is fun place for a day trip with the family or weekend getaway as a couple. Our favorite spots are the historical sites and A-J’s Restaurant.
Want to plan a trip to the Georgia Coast?
Feel free to read my full guide to Georgia HERE.