With five different beach areas to choose from, Tybee Island is an ideal place to splash in the surf, build sandcastles, ride bikes or people watch.
We have visited Tybee Island beaches several times over the years and have never been disappointed in our stay. Lovely ocean breezes keep you cool in the hot summer months. If you visit in the off-season, you may find you have the beaches almost to yourself!
The swimming environment is especially well-suited for families with young children, as the waves on Tybee’s beaches are typically quite gentle. Popular swimming spots are also patrolled by lifeguards and if there are any issues, such as riptides or rocks, warnings are clearly posted. Tybee Island has put a lot of effort in to keep the beaches built up and sand replenished, allowing for a wide swath of granite sand perfect for sunbathing and castle building.
At peak season the more commercially-developed South Beach area may be quite crowded, so if you are looking for a more quiet place, try the North Beach. There are not as many restaurants and shops around, but you’ll find fewer large groups and a beautiful view of the Tybee Island Light Station. Of course, everything on Tybee is easily within biking or driving distance. (One of the days while we were visiting in April, a large college event was taking place on the South Beach near the pier. I was worried it might have an effect on our visit, but since we were on the North Beach, we never saw any evidence of the event whatsoever. Just family groups out enjoying the sun, surf, and sand.)
Public beach access is readily available, with pay-to-park lots in several places along the shore. All beaches are also easily accessible by bike, with free bike parking. Or, for even more convenience, choose an oceanfront vacation rental property right on the beach.
Tybee’s gentle waters are a great place to try your hand at ocean kayaking, paddle-boarding, and other water sports. Rentals are available from several places on the island. Fishing is also popular from areas of the beach, the fishing pier (where you can rent fishing rods by the hour), or you can charter a deep-sea fishing boat.
Quite a few dolphins make their home in these waters year round, with many more migrating into the area in season. Every time we have visited Tybee Island, we have seen pods of dolphins from the shore. If you are especially interested in dolphin watching, check out the dolphin boat tours offered by several local companies, which allow you an up-close look at the beautiful creatures.
If you are interested in learning more about the ecology of the island, don’t miss the walks offered by the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, located on the South Beach near the fishing pier.
Good to know:
•Public lots are pay-to-park seven days a week and are debit/credit card friendly.
•Beaches are all very easily accessed by bike and bike rentals are available by the day or week.
•Picnics are allowed. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the beach, but glass containers are prohibited.
•Bring your own beach chairs or rent from a vendor on the beach.
•Tybee is making their beaches more friendly to the handicapped by providing carpet “ramps” for wheelchairs in popular beach areas. (We saw one on the South Beach pier area.) These allow you to cross the loose sand on a stable surface in order to reach the firm sand near the shore. Some rental companies also offer sand-friendly wheelchairs.
•There are many restaurants and shops within walking or biking distance.
*Disclosure: This review is based on complimentary accommodations on Tybee Island. I received no other compensation and the opinions are entirely my own.
We vacationed at Tybee Island with our then 3-month old and 2 year old. We stayed at a condo a block off the sand. My background being from west coast California, it took a while for me to get used to the sun setting on the wrong side! :) Other than that, the beach actually reminded me of Ventura or one of the less beautiful CA beaches. The sand was ok, a little on the rough side, definitely brown as opposed to the white sand from the Gulf. The water was cool and swimmable. Our 2-year old loved walking out in the ankle-deep water when the tide was out. This was really neat, because it left behind lots of seashells and cool horseshoe crabs that had been trapped in little puddles. This happened every day, it was amazing to watch. The sand that was left when the tide was out was bumpy, you definitely need shoes or sandals on you and your kid, otherwise you will be carrying them and your feet will be hurting! Tybee in general seemed like a town stuck in the 80's as far as the look of things. It needs a major update and some painting. The restaurant options were meager. However, if you aren't looking for anything fancy, and just have small kids who want to dig in the sand, this is a great little place. We loved how quiet the beaches were - not a spring break destination. Definitely check out the Tybee lighthouse - more for adults and older kids rather than smaller kids, but it is neat to see.
During our family vacation to the Tybee Island beaches in April, we had a wonderful mix of cold and warm weather. When we arrived in town, it was a bit too chilly for us to put on our bathing suits but we could not resist going out to splash in the surf. We even made some sandcastles! We nearly had the beach all to ourselves. We watched the birds diving for fish and tiny sandpipers dash in and out of the surf.
The very next day, the weather was absolutely ideal for a day at the beach. The sun's warmth was balanced by a nice cool breeze off the Atlantic Ocean. We watched the sunrise as we unpacked our chairs and umbrella. There were a few beachcombers out early and kiddos were already building their sand masterpieces. The waves are low to moderate depending on the season. The lifeguard stands have weather and surf advisories displayed and the lifeguards can offer advice on where to swim.
If you're visiting the North Beach area, be on the lookout for dolphins! We spotted a few pods during our visit but could not capture them on camera. We'll just have to go back for another visit!
The Tybee Island area is really designed for families. There are cheap and easy places to get food and treat, even right on the beach. The beach stays shallow as it goes into the ocean and there's really not much big waves if you have little kids. However, this is also a little unexciting for bigger kids. Parking can be difficult, you really just have to find a place on the street if the lots are full (which they usually are).
Me and my DH went to Savannah on our honeymoon and went to Tybee Island. Since we were newlyweds, we really enjoyed the fact the beaches were pretty much deserted. We only saw one or two more families there besides us. There is nothing commercial about it, though. There is a restaurant there as you are driving into the Island that was very good. I can't remember the name, but it was about the only commercial thing there :)
What a beautiful beach! It seems liek it is almost undeveloped, no high-rises, beautifl sand, dolphin sightings from the water. It is simply a great place to visit! Loved that the meters to pay at the beach are debit-friendly, and you can pay by the housr. Lots of little shops that sell swimwear, pictures, souvenirs all within walking distance. Uncluttered and perfect.
Our family travels to Savannah atleast twice a year, to visit the in laws! And everyone knows we will spend a day on the beach, no matter the time of year. There is a park 1 block off of the beach with a covered pavillion, plus a playground and basketball courts. My sister in law took us there on December 26, with the hope that my children would not spend hours at the beach. Much to her dismay, my 2, 4, and 6 yr old, were capable of playing in the ocean for 2 hours and I learned to never travel without bathing suits.
Back when my husband and I were dating, we rented a condo near the beach for a week in December. It was just beautiful--of course it was too cold for swimming, but we went on many walks, flew a kite or two, and just enjoyed being beach bums during the off season. And it's so close to Savannah, you get to enjoy two vacation spots at once.
We have been to tybee island many times and love it. We stay at a hotel on the beach so it is esay to carry all of our stuff. The marine science canter is wonderful. We did an early morning activity and learned about all kinds of marine life. I would recomend the science center and the marsh walks. Lots of stuff to look at and touch.
It's gotten more expensive but it's a wonderful day trip from Savannah - beach, sun, food - eat at Spanky's or take a walk on the Boardwalk down on the south end. I am from Savannah and I take my kids there every time we come back. Because the weather is generally mild it's still a fun trip in the winter.