5 Reasons to Go (Beyond the Beach)
Ok, so the beach is the obvious draw, right? Tybee’s five miles of excellent beaches and pristine dunes are well known, plus you can watch the big ships come in, spot the occasional dolphin from your spot on the sand or just kick back and listen to the crashing of the waves while basking in the breeze. But not everyone has the beach on their shortlist, so here are some solid excuses—I mean reasons—to go to Tybee.
The Drive (No, really!)
One of Savannah’s points of pride is the 20-minute (or so) drive out to Tybee. But the drive itself is part of the experience. It winds past rickety but colorful fishing hubs, passes the beautiful Cockspur Lighthouse and winds across an endless sea of sparkling marshes. You can see for miles, and long before you make it to the Island you can see cargo ships heading for the river from the open ocean. The tide fluctuations may surprise you, with water levels changing so much during the day that you may get a very different view on your drive back!
If Savannah is a hybrid of the Old World and the New, Tybee Island is something else entirely. No matter the season, it has the timeless, windswept feel of a laid back beach community complete with cheeky mom-and-pop souvenir shops, colorful beach cottages, and visitors who are just there to relax and have a good time. Be sure to explore the somewhat hidden but delightfully chilled out North Beach community with its fun and funky houses, and don’t miss the views from the pier and pavilion, a gathering spot which provides the typical social beach experience.
Native Americans hunted, camped and explored on and around Tybee for thousands of years before the Spanish showed up in the late 1500s. With “tybee” being the Euchee word for salt, it was likely the Euchee tribe that Spanish explorers encountered upon their arrival. There are also many fascinating stories behind the Tybee Lighthouse, an impressive structure erected in 1736. Built to a height of 90 feet with wood and brick, it was briefly the tallest structure in in America! It’s seen many updates since, but its 178 steps are still a gateway to some of the most stunning vistas in all of the Lowcountry. Plus, there’s the Tybee Island Museum and Fort Pulaski to explore!
Let us not forget the allure of mouthwatering seafood straight from the ocean. For a meal with a view, try North Beach Grill, which serves perfectly seasoned Grilled Shrimp, or check out the fried oysters and scallops at CoCo’s Sunset Grille. The Sundae Cafe has consistently scrumptious crab cakes, and the traditional Lowcountry Boil at Bubba Gumbo’s—right on the shrimp docks of the Tybee Island Marina—is not to be missed! Point is, whatever your taste in seafood, Tybee’s got it.
Even without counting the beach itself, there is so much to learn about Georgia’s coastal ecosystem! Tybee’s Marine Science Center covers it all, and offers seasonal beach discovery walks and talks on Tybee’s turtles. It also houses fish, baby alligators, and sea turtles, and has a tank for touching spider crabs and other friendly invertebrates! You can also rent a kayak (or a jet ski, or a charter boat) and head out to Little Tybee (which is actually twice the size of Tybee!), an uninhabited nature preserve great for camping or birdwatching. It is only accessible by boat so you may just have the whole place to yourself!
Article by Dani Ray