Just outside of the historic bustling city of Savannah, Georgia is a quaint easy going beach town called Tybee Island. It’s a mixture of long-time locals, retirees, and vacationers all there for the same reason. The beautiful beaches, the fresh seafood, and the overall experience of this funky yet charming town.
The island is a mixture of rentals and residential homes with 3,000 total house units. 1,000 of them are primary residences, the remainder being rentals or second homes. There are a limited amount of lots on Tybee, as it is a popular island to reside on. At this time there are around 25 building lots for sale on the whole island starting at $115,000 all the way up to $1.3 million. The oceanfront lots start at $400,000 and go up from there. Knockdowns are a rare occurrence on the island, so this is the reason for the scarcity of property for sale. There are pros and cons to this because while the property for sale is few and far between, the lack of knockdowns gives the island its charm, history, and authenticity. The style of homes ranges from 1950s ranches to funky bungalows, and updated modern beach houses. It’s a beautifully kept uptown with new construction, but also has original retro 80s motels.
The set-up of the island is really dispersed and there isn’t just one perfect area for a family beach house. There are options. The north end is a little quieter and less touristy, and the beach is a little more difficult to access over here, so you’ll find fewer people here. It’s still a mix of residential and rentals, but it’s a bit more relaxed and slower-paced than the South end. One of my favorite streets on the North end was Lewis and 6th. It was right on the marsh, about a five-minute drive from the beach, and in a cute, quiet and modest part of the island. The South end is where the main strip of restaurants, bars, and front beach access is, so if you’re looking to be a part of the hustle and bustle, then you should go here! Even though the main drag is on the South end, the neighborhood behind all the restaurants and bars still feels residential and is quiet and removed enough from the commotion. After talking with the locals, I quickly found out there’s a place for everyone on Tybee Island.
Like most visit-worthy beach towns, there are tourist trap restaurants scattered around. Thankfully there are even more great, local authentic restaurants with outstanding eats. My first recommendation is Chamacos. Their street tacos fall on my list of top favorites I’ve ever had. The ingredients are fresh, and so many choices of tacos to choose from. They’re inexpensive, delicious, and the atmosphere is top-notch. For breakfast, I suggest Sunrise Restaurant. It looks like it popped up out of the 90s and has the best breakfast in town! If you find yourself in this fun beach town, you have to make it to the famous Hucapoos. It’s a no-fuss, funky dive bar where the beers are cheap and the hangs are good. And they have specialty brick oven pizza that was so delish I came back twice. You can’t forget to get fresh seafood when you visit Tybee, it is on the beach after all! For the best fresh seafood go to Bubba Gumbos (don’t worry it’s not the same as the chain Bubba Gump), and they serve the day’s fresh catch, seafood gumbo, and other American eats. Coco’s is also a really fun, laid-back local place on the creek where you can get fresh and fried seafood. I recommend sitting on the top deck that overlooks the beautiful shrimp boats. You’ll be looking at the boats that most likely caught the shrimp on your plate! There’s also a farmer’s market during the season behind the lighthouse with local cuisine, jewelry, art, and more. Definitely a must for locals and visitors!
Speaking of the beach, Tybee’s is a delight! There are multiple beach accesses on the South end of the island, with the pier being a bit more congested and touristy. There is beach access on the North end by the lighthouse, but it is harder to get to so you’ll find lighter crowds than the pier here. I highly recommend renting bikes to get to know the island and cruise around. Tybee is only 3.7 miles long, so a beach cruiser is perfect for bopping around town. Go see Leo at Fat Tire Bikes on the main drag. He is the nicest local guy and has cheap beach cruisers for daily and weekly rentals. As for other beach activities, there’s kayaking, paddle-boarding, and of course surfing! If you’re looking for lessons as an adult, I suggest Tybee Surf Lessons, but if you’re wanting to drop your kids off at surf school I suggest Tybee Surf School. They provide rash guards, wet suits, surfboards – everything you would need for a day of surfing!
I stayed on Tybee for three nights and easily got to know the locals, found my favorite spots, and could really see that the people that lived there and visited both found themselves at home. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone, but also an escape from everyone and everything. It’s a beautiful yet spunky beach town that tourists and locals alike fall in love with each year.