They say that when you cross the Lazaretto Creek bridge onto Tybee Island, you cross into another dimension, a dimension called Tybee Time. I've crossed into that dimension many times. It's a dimension where the cares of the world, the concerns of living, the humdrum, the mundane, the worrisome, and the negatives of life are all washed away in that instant - and no one really ever wants to cross back over that bridge into the dimension from whence they've come.
Tybee is called Savannah's Beach. Since the 1890's, when train excursions (the right-of-way now serves as a bike/hike trail) brought Savannah's people to Tybee for the day, a week, or a season, Tybee has been a resort getaway offering lodging, food and fun to those seeking diversion. Three miles wide and five miles long, Tybee is the south barrier island for the mouth of the Savannah River. Although the north barrier island, Hilton Head (been there - too many cars, too much congestion, too many people,too many middle managers fakin' it 'til they make it), is better known - the rich go to Hilton Head, the rest of us go to Tybee.
Lodging: There are two trains of thought on which side - the Atlantic coast side or Savannah River side - one should stay.
For a long, wide-open beach, the Atlantic side with it's recently refurbished beach is the ticket for some yet, surfable waves may preclude it for small children. The river estuary, where we rent a condo every year, is more condusive to children and has never gotten rougher that the whitecaps on the Ohio River here at home. Condoes, motel rooms, and 1 to 10 bedroom homes are all available for rent with prices varying by season. Simply use your browser to locate rental companies, such as Sandy's by the Shore. (Secret: there are two ways to rent condoes - brokers and owner direct. Use a broker because they are there when you need help if things break or go wrong - you don't have to deal with an absentee owner a thousand miles away.)
THINGS TO DO: First, be a beach bum - do all those neat beach things (see current Corona beer TV ads for ideas)
Sightseeing: Tybee Lighthouse, and it's restored light keepers house, on the north shore comes first. It's 278 steps to the top are breathtaking, as is the view of coastal carolina/georgia. Next to it - Fort Screven - an eyesore left over from the coastal defense system of the 19th and early 20th century, now being used for better things. Fort Pulaski, named for the great Polish general and American Patriot, is one of the best examples remaining of the coastal forts of the 19th century - and a short walk from the Lazaretto Creek bridge. And then there's the Lady of the Southeast - Savannah - a sweet old girl that will charm you, seduce you, and make you return to her again and again. Between the Historic District, the renewed Riverfront, and the myriad of cultural and historic locations, one week won't be near enough.
Watersports: boating, kayaking, in particular, parasailing, et.al. all are available, for your equipment or rentals. This includes dolphin tours to see the ubitiquous Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, although you can see them from any beach 50 feet out.
Fishing: from the beach, from several piers and bridges, and charter fishing boats - just fish at least three feet off the bottom to avoid scavenger species.
Food: Sorry guys, there's not a fast food chain on the island, although there are several nice pizza delivery operations. With the exception of the two breakfast restaurants, one upscale restaurant, most food service is bar-related. Menus are 95% seafood, and vary by establishment. Food for home preparation is best bought along Rte 80 where selection is greater and prices are cheaper. One exception - there's a wholesale shrimp/seafood dealer in the Cafe Loco complex by Lazaretto Creek where, literally, right-off-the-boat shrimp can be gotten quite cheaply.
Shopping: A few galleries, here and there, and a bunch of "souvenir" shops downtown and along Butler Ave. provide
what shopping there is, except for several "convenience" stores and one grocery store purveying daily needs. And if you just have to have a "shopping" fix, Hilton Head has two Tanger outlet malls.
DRAWBACK: only one thing irritates anyone going to Tybee - Parking. There is very little off-street parking and the City of Tybee Island regulates on-street parking with meters and public lots - at $1.50 per hour and $18.00 per day, payable at kiosks along every street. They even charge their own residents for an annual parking permit. Other than the usual room tax, this must be the only other way the city makes money. Never got a parking ticket, so I don't know if they're friendly about you making good or not.
Savannah and Tybee, and several promotional groups, all have websites with tons of information, as does the one that you are reading now, a place where I originally got much of my information for our first trip to Tybee.