Tybee Island Beach — the beach of Savannah, Georgia — is another great island beach playground on the southeast coast of the U.S. Although larger than the beach community of Folly Beach in Charleston, Tybee Island Beach is just as relaxed, accessible and fun.
Actually, Tybee Island Beach is the only beach around or near Savannah. Located just fifteen minutes east of historic downtown (but forty-five minutes from our post on Skidaway Island), Tybee Island is the easternmost point in the state of Georgia and is its northernmost barrier island. With sandy beaches, fresh seafood and gentle (except during hurricane season) ocean waves, the island serves as a popular year round tourist destination. Less than three miles long, Tybee Island Beach consists of a sandy beach close to shore and a tidal salt marsh closer to town. There is also a maritime forest and freshwater sloughs (pronounced “sloos”). (Tybee Island)
Tybee, probably another word for “salt” in Native tongue, has a long history. Euchee (or Yuchi) Indians, Spanish Explorers, French and British settlers, Confederate and Union soldiers and tourists alike all have traversed the island, generally in search of or utilizing its natural resources, including sassafras, protection, game or relaxation and relief from the heat. For these travelers, we sought the latter two.
Although larger and more more touristy than Folly Beach, Tybee Island Beach offers many of the same elements as its northern neighbor — hard-packed sand, a long sturdy pier, lots of ocean and ample parking. And if you are in need of food, swimsuits or souvenirs, you certainly will find it on Tybee Island. But what stood out for us at Tybee Island Beach was the ocean life. We found lots of ocean-dwelling creatures on the beach this time around, and it made for a very exciting day. Things we had yet to show Luna — or see for ourselves — showed up at Tybee Island Beach. We helped a large crab fend off hungry birds and dug around a couple of sand dollars. Pelicans flew by in a long, undulating formation. Starfish chilled out in warm water at the base of the pier. And we stumbled upon a dead ray: Despite its unfortunate circumstance, we were grateful to see one up close.
When we ended our day at the beach, we searched for a local food joint, but we found that difficult. What we did choose — The Crab Shack — disappointed us. The staff was pleasant and eager, but everything — and we do mean everything — was served on Styrofoam and/or discarded, even aluminum cans. Our crab boil was overboiled, too. We do not recommend it, nor would we return, not that it matters or that they care, for we are but a blip on their tourist radar. Later we learned that more local and low key food establishments are based by the bridge, for those of you interested.
Despite the end-of-day downer in food, visiting Tybee Island Beach was fun, and it helped us shape our future in beach-going: Our beach towns will be within walking- or biking-distance for more frequent use! Who doesn’t love the beach? More beach, please.
For the record and for an adventurous day, the famous Bonaventure Cemetery is located on Tybee Island and is a short drive from the beach. Meander the vast resting place and then contemplate in sand. It also makes for a great neighborhood drive.
A visit to Savannah must include a jaunt to Tybee Island Beach. The coast of Georgia is cool.