There is more to Tybee Island than the beach! Here's everything you need to know about this three-mile Georgia barrier island.
Family Fun Time: Tybee Island Style
Tybee Island Marine and Science Center
The newly opened science center is better than ever! Located across from the iconic Lighthouse, the Center recently opened as part of the latest phase of its buildout plan. Visitors can peruse the gift shop, check out exhibits in both galleries, or enjoy the new amphitheater that overlooks the dunes—and beyond them—to the mouth of the Savannah River, looking north to Daufuskie and Hilton Head Islands.
Before the new location on Meddin Drive, it had operated out of the City of Tybee’s former police station on the island’s south end. Sprung out of “jail,” it is now located adjacent to other attractions, and for the hungry family, it has walkable dining options.
The Center offers a Sea Camp for youngsters, interactive exhibits, and family programs.
Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
Across the street from the new Center is the best-known local landmark, the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. No trip would be complete without a visit to Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. This landmark has guided mariners’ safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 285 years. Jog (or walk) up all 178 steps to the top for unparalleled ocean views!
Before being converted to electricity in 1933, three “keepers of the flame” crewed the Light Station. Each of these keepers had their own house, which still exists today.
Did you know?: The lighthouse lens can be seen from 18 miles out at sea and is so large that a family of four can fit inside.
The adjacent museum is open daily (except for Tuesdays) and is housed in a historic Endicott Period Battery, built as part of Fort Screven during the Spanish-American War. And since you already stretched your legs traversing those Lighthouse stairs, it’s time to take a well-deserved break.
North Beach Bar & Grille
Ready to recharge and enjoy some good island food? A short walk from the Lighthouse is the North Beach Bar & Grille. The varied lunch and dinner menus will satisfy all picky palates and provide a welcome respite from a busy day’s adventures.
This quaint beach shack by the sea is a local fixture and, on occasion, offers live music. They are committed to “going green” year-round and use environmentally safe packaging and to-go products. From a burger and beer to eclectic dishes with a Caribbean flair, the Grille is a savior for weary vacationers who do not want to cook!
Before returning to your Natural Retreats vacation home, drive to one of the most significant historic landmarks in Georgia: Fort Pulaski Park. A hop, skip, and 10-minute car ride from Tybee, this national monument is located in nearby Savannah. Call ahead for availability and hours.
Army engineers and enslaved men helped build the fort, and many men and women sought refuge inside. Not surprisingly, the people of Fort Pulaski have a wealth of stories to share. Among them is Susie King Taylor, a teacher and nurse who achieved many firsts in her lifetime by overcoming adversity and helping to liberate others from slavery. She authored Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers. She was the only African-American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.
In 1861, John C. Rowland enlisted in the Confederate service and was sent to Fort Pulaski. He was accompanied by March Haynes, who, still enslaved, was conscripted as a carpenter.
Following the fall of the fort in 1863, Union Major General David Hunter issued a general order which stated that “all persons of color lately held in involuntary service by enemies of the United States in Fort Pulaski and on Cockspur Island, Georgia are hereby confiscated and declared free, in conformity with the law, and shall hereafter receive the fruits of their labor."
Haynes immediately took advantage of his newfound freedom to help others gain theirs. In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, Haynes became the top conductor of the Underground Railroad in the Lowcountry.
Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure Tour
A trip to Tybee Island would be incomplete without a dolphin tour! Watch pods of dolphins in their natural habitat from the vantage point of a chartered boat with a professional guide. Group tours last 1-1.5 hours. Along the way, you’ll see the historic lighthouses and Fort Pulaski. Guests of Natural Retreats receive complimentary tickets to local attractions—including a dolphin tour!