Tybee Island: Georgia’s Most Sought After Beach
Tybee Island is a tiny island (only three square miles!) in Georgia just south of the border of South Carolina, 30 minutes from Savannah, and it’s packed to the brim with character. The summers here are hot, but the winter temperatures can drop to the low 40s F. Tybee Island often has overcast skies, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the beaches. The north, east, and south sides of this mini island are home to beautiful beaches overlooking the Atlantic. The west side is also lovely, but in a different way. The west part of the island mainly consists of marshes and hammocks—stands of trees that form an ecological island within a contrasting ecosystem. Though it is a small barrier island, it holds a lot of history. It is a quirky town with a real cute cultural experience, hippy-like, but in the “South.”
The northern part is the entrance to the island, one road in, one road out. US-80 will lead you right into downtown Savannah, making Tybee Beach the closest beach to Savannah. The majority of this 30 minute drive from downtown Savannah is scenic and serene, and it’s an absolute pleasant experience. Traffic can occur during busy times of the season. Regardless, once you’re on Tybee Island, there’s no need to leave. There are plenty of hotels, VRBOs, and AirBnBs, but one off-the-beaten-path accommodation you may want to try is the River’s End Campground and RV Park. The campground is just a short walk or ride to North Beach, where you can spot dolphins from shore, check out the lighthouse, and learn the history of Fort Screven. There’s plenty of other fun activities to do on this small island too.
Whether you’re visiting for a day or several days, the best way to see the entire island as a simple nomad is by renting a bike at Tim’s Bike Rental. The designated bike path around the island is brilliant. If you are driving in for the day (like I did) park outside of the busy part of town (near Tim’s Bike Rental). From there, you can ditch your car, and bike anywhere on the island with ease. The trail will take you by the lighthouse, past the Marine Science Center, along the beaches, through the residential neighborhood, and by The Sugar Shack… an ice cream shop that’s one of the islands most prized possessions (at least in my opinion, but I might be biased since I’m an ICECREAM-OHOLIC). If you’re in the mood for ice-cream, or even if you’re not in the mood for ice-cream, just do yourself a favor and stop by. Get the Pralines and Cream...no, get the Rocky Road...NOOOO! Get the Turtle ice-cream! Just get whatever you want, and you must get a waffle cone.
After you get your sugar fix, continue biking through the neighborhood, and enjoy all the colorful beach houses. The architecture and town is a mix of a hippie vibe but still with a “Southern” feel. For example, you can sip sweet tea while you zen-out in your beach cottage. Like with most beach towns, everyone here is chill and looking for a good time...unless you have a kid that isn’t allowed that third scoop of ice-cream, then there is no chill there, talk about a meltdown! The people who live on the island are beachgoers and outdoorsy types. I saw people working on their cars, big groups of families and friends, people relaxing in their yards or on the beach. Tybee Islanders are the kind of people I can see myself having a few drinks with. Yes... I gathered all that from a bike ride.
The halfway point of the bike trail is South Beach. It’s refreshing to relax on the beach’s soft sand, and lazily take in the gorgeous views. South Beach is a serene moment before you continue the path to downtown Tybee. Downtown Tybee is a tourist trap with beach shops and a large fishing pier. The public can fish off the pier, buy bait and rent fishing gear, but it can get very crowded. The downtown area (the locals call it “down front”) has some beach bars and junky (but charming) t-shirt stores. Hands down, the best place on Tybee Island is the beach; whether it’s North, Mid, or South Beach, they’re all enjoyable.
Before returning our bikes, we stopped at a restaurant right off of the beach, called The Deck. You can actually walk off the sand from the beach onto The Deck’s patio. The food is an awesome assortment of fresh casual seafood plates, which is just the cuisine you’ll be craving coming off of the beach. If you don’t eat here, at least grab a drink and bring it back to the beach—no “open container” law on this island! Not too many US beaches have a true “beach bar” that is this classy, and it’s worth a sip.
Remember, don’t have too many sips if you rented a bike, since you still have to make the short ride back. Near Tim’s Bike Rental there is a cool open-air market, or a bazaar, if you will. There are about seven very eclectic shops, and an interesting outdoor eating venue called Huc-A-Poos. I didn’t have time to venture into this roadhouse for drinks or food, but it looked like an amusing spot. If live music isn’t playing, big speakers play throughout the entire area, which gave this place an incredible vibe. One of the many things I will need to come back for.
Many people are not familiar with the beaches on Tybee Island because they cannot get past the attraction of Savannah. Now don’t get me wrong, Savannah is a special place, but Tybee is the most sought out beach in the state of Georgia. You might be thinking, “I’ve never heard of this place before,” but maybe it’s just one of those “best kept secrets.” And if you take the time to visit this hidden gem, I guarantee you’ll be glad I let you in on the secret. 😉
If you read this far, here are some Pro Tips for you…
Pro Tip 1: Do the bike ride!
Pro Tip 2: You will be in the sun a ton, so make sure to protect yourself. Beach NeedZ has all the gear you need to protect you and your family. All products are organic and eco-friendly, so it is safe for you and Mother Ocean. The goods can be shipped to any hotel or residence in the USA.
Pro Tip 3: Travel here in May - September if you want the warm weather.
Pro Tip 4: Here’s a great Playlist for Tybee Beach on Spotify. Attention: Explicit Language on Some Songs.
Pro Tip 5: Book a Tybee Beach Ecology Trip