The closest beach to downtown Savannah, only 20 miles away, Tybee Island has more than five miles of public beaches popular with families. The island has a rich history, starting with Native Americans who inhabited Tybee Island for generations, arriving by dugout canoe, before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century. The Spanish moved south in 1704, and Tybee became a part of the Georgia colony. The island also played a role in the Civil War and became a popular resort town in the decades following it. Today, there are eight hotels, six bed and breakfast inns, and hundreds of vacation rentals, along with plenty of seaside activities, restaurants and entertaining events.
Things to Do
Tybee Island Beach
Most travelers flock to the island for Tybee Island Beach, part of the five miles of public beaches ideal for sunbathing, surfing and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been named one of the country’s best beaches.
Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion
An icon within the community, Tybee Island Pier & Pavilion was built in 1891 and destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1996 for the Summer Olympics. Visitors can go fishing, chow down at the snack bar or soak up the view.
Marine Science Center
The Marine Science Center educates visitors on the native marine life on Tybee Island and Coastal Georgia. Admission covers a self-guided tour through exhibits with live animals, including fish and reptiles, and a touch tank.
Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum
Built in 1732, the Tybee Island Lighthouse & Museum is the tallest and oldest lighthouse in Georgia. It has been safely guiding ships into the Savannah River ever since. Climb the 178 stairs to the top, and learn about island history in the museum.
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.
East Coast Paddleboarding is the only paddleboard outfitter and school in the Savannah and Tybee Island area. They are one of the few nationally certified schools in the country, making them the best place to learn. They offer paddleboard lessons, tours and fitness classes, as well as sales for all the gear you need.
Places to Stay
Hotel Tybee has been an island favorite for 127 years and is the island’s largest full-service hotel. There are more than 200 guest rooms, two pools, a restaurant, bar, lounge and conference facility.
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.
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, free parking and free WiFi.
Surf Song Bed and Breakfast
This 110-year-old 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 the beach. There are more than 100 sites with full hookups as well as primitive sites. Free WiFi is available, as well.