Aerial view of South Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy of @jdwolfjr via Visit Tybee

Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy of @jdwolfjr via Visit Tybee.

Guide to Tybee Island

Tybee Island, Georgia, is located 20 minutes outside of downtown Savannah. This coastal barrier island has been welcoming visitors since the late 1800s and serves up some authentic, retro beach vibes unmatched in the area.

This quaint barrier island is home to more than three miles of beautiful beaches, each with its own personality. The island's rich history, lively locals and a plethora of outdoor activities will keep you busy, no matter your interest.

On Tybee Island, you won't find big-box hotels blocking your view of the Atlantic Ocean or wait in long lines at chain restaurants; this beach town prides itself on authentic beach fun with a local personal flair. So, start planning your trip with this list of popular things to do, unique places to stay and great places to eat on Tybee Island.

Things to Do

People on South Beach on Tybee Island, Georgia
South Beach on Tybee Island, Georgia

Experience Tybee Island's 5 Beaches

Tybee's wide beaches stretch for over 3 miles. Unlike most beach destinations, this island offers five unique beach experiences to please any visitor.

North Beach is where you'll find the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Tybee Island Marine Science Center. This quiet beach overlooks the Savannah River and gives great views of container ships navigating the waterways.

Mid Beach is centrally located on the island with easy access to some of the most popular restaurants and lodging establishments.

South Beach is Tybee's most popular beach, with more crowds and activity than anywhere else on the island, you'll enjoy walking the Tybee Island Pier and shopping along Tybrisa Street.

The island's "secret beach" is Back River Beach. Positioned on the Tybee's back river, this stretch of beach offers a quiet escape, perfect for families with small children who will enjoy calm waves while catching glimpses of dolphins at sunset.

Unknown to some, Little Tybee Island is an uninhabited nature preserve located just south of Tybee Island. This remote beach is only accessible by boat, kayak, or jet ski. Pack a lunch, or a tent to camp out for the day.

Tybee Island Pier at sunrise
The Pier on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @afordphotography

Walk the Tybee Island Pier & Pavilion

For decades, the iconic Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion has been a beacon of island fun for those visiting Tybee Island. Stroll down the Pavilion and taste summertime treats from Sweet Dreams Bar & Grill while watching cargo ships glide along in the distance, people watch on the beach or try your hand at fishing. Just steps from the pier, you'll find the island's local restaurants and shopping, all within walking distance.

Child pointing at a small turtle at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center
Tybee Island Marine Science Center on Tybee Island, Georgia

Visit the Tybee Island Marine Science Center

The Tybee Island Marine Science Center opened the doors to its state-of-the-art North Beach location last year. The museum features permanent exhibits in addition to year-round education programs for island visitors and student groups. They also celebrated the re-release of Admiral, the rehabilitated sea turtle that was found as a hatchling in a hotel bathroom on Tybee Island several years ago.

Woman walking toward the lighthouse on Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island Lighthouse on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @mylittlelifesjourneys

Climb the Tybee Island Lighthouse & Museum

Built in 1732, the Tybee Island Lighthouse & Museum is the tallest and oldest lighthouse in Georgia. Climb the 178 stairs to the top, and then head to the Tybee Island Museum to learn about the island's unique history.

Dolphin swimming in the ocean near Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island, Georgia

Experience a Dolphin Tour

If you want to see dolphins and other wildlife, join an excursion with one of Tybee Island's tour operators. Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours and Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure operate dolphin tours, sunset cruises and fishing charters.

Fort Pulaski National Monument in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Ace Anderson
Fort Pulaski National Monument in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Ace Anderson

Explore Fort Pulaski National Monument

Named for Casimir Pulaski, who died in the 1779 siege of Savannah, Fort Pulaski National Monument protected the sea approach to Savannah. Named one of the "most spectacular harbor defense structures" in the United States during the Civil War era, eventually, it fell to Union forces. Today, it features interpretive programs, fort tours, sun-dappled trails and plenty of dog-friendly experiences.

Catch a Show at the Tybee Post Theater

The Tybee Post Theater is not only the sole entertainment venue on the island, but it's also laced with a history of its own. Constructed in 1930, the theater was used by the public and those living on Fort Screven. It sat vacant for 40 years but reopened in 2015 as a cultural arts center for the community, and now features live entertainment, classic and first-run movies, and theater productions.

Paddleboarding on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by Lea Lynch, @leabedea
Paddleboarding on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @leabedea

Make a Splash

It comes as no surprise that Tybee Island offers a variety of water activities to suit any level of experience. Bring a group of friends or join other island visitors for an adventure that brings you closer to nature in a kayak or standup paddleboard (SUP) tour. For those that love to ride the waves or want to learn how to surf, Tybee Surf Lessons offer surf classes right on Tybee's beaches.

A collection of fossil shark teeth found by Sundial Charters on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @coloradoturns
Shark teeth found with Sundial Charters on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @coloradoturns

Go Fossil Hunting

Extinct for more than 2 million years, Megalodons were known for cruising the waters around Georgia for millions of years. Thanks to changing ocean currents, huge fossils of this megatooth shark can be found around Tybee Island - if you know where to look. That's where Sundial Charters come in to provide an experience that you can literally take home with you. Scout the shores for fossils for an afternoon that you won't soon forget!

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Places to Stay

Tybee Island has plenty of options to accommodate any traveler or group. Whether you pick a beach hotel, quaint cottage, charming inn or chic condo, you can rest assured you'll feel right at home.

Interior of Hotel Tybee room on Tybee Island, Georgia
Hotel Tybee on Tybee Island, Georgia

Hotel Tybee

Named the "Best of the Best" by Savannah Magazine, Hotel Tybee has been an island favorite for more than 130 years and is the island's largest full-service hotel. There are more than 200 guest rooms, two pools, a restaurant, bar, lounge and premier event and conference spaces.

Desoto Beach Hotel

For direct beach access, there's nowhere better than the Desoto Beach Hotel. There are more than 30 rooms with TVs, coffee makers and free WiFi. The hotel also has a pool and sundeck, arcade and game room, conference center, continental breakfast, and rentals for bikes, beach chairs and umbrellas.

Admirals Inn

Set in the heart of the island, the award-winning Admirals Inn is one block from the beach. There are 41 newly renovated rooms with mini fridges, smart TVs and free high-speed Internet. There is also a fitness center, continental breakfast and free parking.

Surf Song Bed and Breakfast on Tybee Island, Georgia
Surf Song Bed and Breakfast on Tybee Island, Georgia

Surf Song Bed and Breakfast

This 110-year-old North Beach Victorian home was transformed into Surf Song Bed and Breakfast in 2013. Each room has an ensuite bathroom, and the inn is a short walk from the beach. They also have a swimming pool, daily breakfast, and a cozy porch with swings and rockers.

River's End Campground and RV Park

Those traveling with RVs and tents can stay at River's End Campground and RV Park, which is a few blocks from North Beach. There are more than 100 sites with full hookups, cozy cabins as well as primitive sites. Campground guests will enjoy convenient amenities and comforts of home like a 24-hour laundry room, fully equipped fitness center, the island's largest swimming pool and complimentary WiFi.

Beachview Inn & Spa

Tybee Island's Beachview Inn & Spa has 14 graciously appointed guest rooms near South Beach. Guests can enjoy daily coffee and breakfast at Java & Juice Beach Bar, as well as access to the onsite spa with steam room and sauna. This preciously restored inn is a beloved bed and breakfast accommodation on the island.

Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals

Discover your happy place with Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals! With more than 300 fully furnished vacation rental properties sprinkled across the island, they can easily accommodate any group size or special occasion.

Exterior of a Mermaid Cottage on Tybee Island, Georgia
Mermaid Cottage on Tybee Island, Georgia

Mermaid Cottages

Mermaid Cottages is another vacation rental company featured by Coastal Living and Travel + Leisure for its historic homes and quirky cottages. Some are even pet-friendly, including some that date back to the 1930s. They also support local non-profits.

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Places to Eat

For such a small island, Tybee Island has no shortage of great places to eat.

Bar at Sea Wolf Tybee
Sea Wolf Tybee on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by Sea Wolf Tybee

Sea Wolf Tybee

Does champagne and hot dogs spark your taste buds? Then, Sea Wolf Tybee is where you need to be. The weekly menus rotate with religious regularity and are full of fresh oysters, vegan creations, gourmet hot dogs and inventive cocktails. Don't leave Tybee Island without stopping by this eclectic, coastal hangout!

Chamaco's Tacos & Surf

Chamaco's Tacos & Surf, known for delicious street tacos and their tequila bar, is opening a new location near North Beach on Butler Ave. You can continue to enjoy your favorite taco joint, refreshing drinks and upbeat tunes every day from noon to 9 p.m. Come feel the vibe!

Cockspur Grill

Get a taste of island comfort at Cockspur Grill. Steaks, seafood, wings, burgers or salads, this island eatery has a way of providing a relaxing atmosphere and satisfying appetites. Join them for live music Tuesday – Saturday from 7-10 p.m. and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. Be sure to check their online event calendar for the rotating artist lineup.

Pier 16

They're keeping it all in the family at Pier 16 Seafood Restaurant, located in downtown Tybee, just one block from South Beach. This family-owned seafood haunt has breathtaking views of Tybrisa Street, courtesy of its rooftop deck. Enjoy fun with the family playing cornhole or a night out with friends at the rooftop bar. A fantastic meal awaits you seven days a week.

Dining outside at The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, Georgia
The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, Georgia

The Crab Shack

Featured on The Food Network, The Crab Shack is known for its seafood platter, which comes with crab legs, shrimp and the catch of the day. The restaurant has three bars with Sunday drink specials and waterfront views.

North Beach Bar & Grill

Featured in the movie "The Last Song," North Beach Bar & Grill is a dockside eatery tucked between the lighthouse and the beach. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu is made up of seafood favorites with Caribbean influences.

Sunset view of boats on the water near Coco's Sunset Grille on Tybee Island, Georgia
View from Coco's Sunset Grille on Tybee Island, Georgia

Coco's Sunset Grille

Located at the marina, Coco's Sunset Grille is a laid-back spot for seafood dishes and Caribbean-inspired sandwiches, soups and salads. Their cocktails elicit flavors of the islands like the CocoRita and Parrot Head.

Fannie's on the Beach

For beachfront dining since 1992, head to Fannie's on the Beach, which has outdoor seating, Sunday brunch and live music on weekends. The menu has seafood, pizza and drinks, but don't miss the big salads!

Sting Ray's Seafood

Sting Ray's Seafood calls itself “the home of blue crabs, beach music and beer,” so get your fill of all three. They have live music on weekends and have won awards for their margaritas, seafood and bartenders.

The Deck Beachbar & Kitchen on Tybee Island, Georgia
The Deck Beachbar & Kitchen on Tybee Island, Georgia

The Deck Beachbar & Kitchen

The Deck Beachbar & Kitchen is the area's only beachfront bar and restaurant, and is perfectly positioned right on Mid Beach's sandy shore. The laid-back spot has waterfront views and live music. Don't miss the menu, which draws inspiration from the cuisines of Australia, coastal Mexico and Hawaii.

AJ's Dockside Restaurant

Open since 2003, AJ's Dockside Restaurant has a cozy location on the Back River, which means your dining guest will typically be the local Bottlenose dolphins. Outdoor deck seating overlooks the water, but there's also an indoor dining room and bar. The menu has fresh seafood and an extensive lineup of bottled beer.

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Events

There's always something happening on Tybee Island.

Beach Bum Parade

The unofficial kick-off to beach season is the Beach Bum Parade, a free event open to locals and visitors alike at the end of May. It starts with a parade that soon becomes an island-wide water fight. Bring your waterproof bags and sense of adventure!

Group of sand castle artists at the SCAD Sand Arts Festival on Tybee Island, Georgia
SCAD Sand Arts Festival on Tybee Island, Georgia

SCAD Sand Arts Festival

SCAD Sand Arts Festival in May features guest artists that create works using Tybee's best resource: the sand! Awards are handed out for the best designs. The event is open to Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) students, alumni and the general public.

Fourth of July Fireworks

Enjoy the Fourth of July Fireworks on the island, which is one of the state’s biggest celebrations. The fireworks at the pier start at dusk, usually around 9:30 p.m., but they can be viewed all over the island.

Parade and crowd during the Tybee Island Pirate Festival on Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island Pirate Festival on Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island Pirate Festival

In October, the Tybee Island Pirate Festival brings together the seafaring community for pirate costumes, parades, live entertainment and more. There's also a beer garden, kids area and fireworks.

Polar Plunge

Polar Plunge is a New Year's tradition where thousands of people take a brisk dip into the Atlantic Ocean at noon. The entire family is welcome to participate or just watch!

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Published: June 2022