Back in 2016, my family and I took our first ever official family vacation to Tybee Island, GA. It was in celebration of my husband and I paying off over $55,000 of consumer debt in just 2 years. It was a wonderful, paid in cash vacation that I’m so grateful for. And the best part is, that this trip was our 4th one and as such, we’ve gotten to know our island home pretty well!
So if you’re interested in planning a family trip to Tybee Island, read on for some helpful information in planning your trip! And if you want to know how we make traveling to Tybee on a $1,000 cash budget a reality, head to this post.
Tybee Island Beaches
Tybee has three beaches and each one offers its own special charm and unique traits. Here are the three beaches and the pros and cons of each:
This is also known as Savannah River Beach as its the beach on the shores of where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic Ocean so it has brackish water instead of salt water.
- The waves are much smaller on River Beach than any of the other beaches on Tybee which makes it a great beach to bring really small kids to because they aren’t going to get tossed by the waves.
- You can actually walk to North Beach and the Light House from River Beach!
- This beach is usually way less crowded than North or South Beach which again, makes taking the whole family for the day so much easier!
- Dolphins! You will more than likely get to see dolphins at this beach.
Charlotte at River Beach:
- Due to the brackish water, there can be a lot of jellyfish during certain times of the year. I speak from experience as I was stung by one our first year at Tybee and it hurts. But I also now never go to any beach without a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar in my beach bag. Again, speaking from experience, nothing cuts the pain of a jellyfish sting faster than vinegar. The lifeguard stands on North and South Beach have vinegar for any jellyfish stings.
- There is no lifeguard on duty at this beach.
- There is no way to drive up to this beach. You’ll have to park and walk.
- The large container ships coming in and out of the Savannah River can cause huge wake to happen. This isn’t a super big deal as there’s typically only one an hour or less that comes through and you’ll have enough time to get your stuff and move once you see the ship coming by. But seriously, the wake is crazy so just be prepared for it!
One of the container ships (this was during low tide):
North Beach is the beach at the north end of the island and is where the lighthouse is located.
- This is a more family-friendly beach than South Beach so your kids are going to have a ton of kiddos to play with!
- The waves are bigger than River Beach but not (typically speaking anyway) so big that your older kids couldn’t play.
- You can drive to this beach – there are several parking areas (you will have to pay to park).
- The sand is more sandy than River Beach (River Beach has more of a shelly sand).
- There is a lifeguard on duty (although they don’t have them all the way down on the beach just closer towards the lighthouse).
- Just like at River Beach you’ll more than likely catch a few glimpses of dolphins!
- The waves being bigger can be a little tough letting small children play in the water without an adult to hold them.
- Rip Tides are at both North and South Beach and are definitely something you need to be aware of.
- This beach can get really crowded on the weekends.
South Beach is located at the south end of the island and has the large pier.
- If you’re a wave junkie, then this is the beach you want to go to as the waves can get huge at this beach.
- There is a lifeguard on duty.
- There is a lot to do around South Beach like the science museum so you can sign your kids up to go on a beach exploration tour with the science museum and they’ll take the kiddos out and explore the different inhabitants of the beach.
- South Beach is right by what is referred to Tybee’s downtown area, Tybrisa Street where you can find all kinds of shops and restaurants.
- The pier at South Beach offers an awesome fishing spot, viewing spot, and has a few food and shop areas too!
- South Beach is the party beach – this is one where you’ll find a lot more intoxicated folks, loud music, and some not-so-family-friendly things going on.
- The waves are really overpowering at this beach and is why we don’t go to this beach often because both my husband and I have been swamped by the waves.
Best Places to Eat on Tybee with Kids
Okay, so really almost every place on Tybee is going to be kid-friendly. Tybee is still a very family-friendly island and most restaurants aren’t that clean – just being honest. But these are a few of the places that my family really enjoys on the Island:
The Crab Shack
This is my favorite restaurant on the island because you can literally show up in your bare feet and no one is going to care. It is super kid friendly and perfect if you have younger kids. I will tell you that this is not super budget friendly if you’re like me and love to eat crab!
Crab Shack does have a fantastic view, an alligator farm where the kids can see and feed the Gators as well as an exotic bird sanctuary where you can get up close and personal with birds like a Macaw (my kids loved getting to see this bird as they saw it so many times on Go Diego Go when they were little).
This is my kid’s favorite restaurant because, well, pizza. This is also one of the very few places on Tybee that delivers which is why we like it! But I’ll say that this one is also not super budget friendly either. The pizza is good but I think it’s overpriced. Again, my kids love this place and its a special treat that we let them have when we go to Tybee.
This is probably the most budget-friendly restaurant on Tybee (or at least that we’ve found so far) and the best part is that the food is actually really, really good! But…and this is a BIG but, the restaurant is very dive-barish and is truly not a clean place. So if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, you may want to skip this restaurant. My husband likes that the food is good and cheap but he can’t stand eating there because there’s literally dust everywhere.
The Sugar Shack
Another one of my kid’s favorite places! The Sugar Shack is another restaurant that needs some serious remodeling and good scrub down, but the homemade ice cream is sooooo worth it! Seriously, it’s amazing! They do serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner here but we’ve only ever eaten their ice cream so I’m not sure how the rest of their menu is, but the ice cream is wonderful!
My kids enjoying The Sugar Shack:
Coco’s is the kind of place where you can get a good mix of food and it boosts the best sunset viewing spot on the island (they even do a sunset toast every night)! The food is really good and you get a lot for your money! The downsides here are the parking lot is super small and crazy and they don’t serve straws with the drinks (which I understand why they don’t because they kill sea turtles, but it is weird drinking straight from a cup in a restaurant).
Things to do on Tybee
Okay, so not all of these we’ve done but these are the things that you can do on Tybee while you’re staying there.
You can climb the lighthouse and tour the museum. I still haven’t been able to convince my husband to do this one yet! Here’s to hoping to next year.
Okay, so we’ve never paid for one of these tours because we bring our jon boat down to Tybee and get to see the dolphins all the time. But I know lots of folks have loved going on these dolphin tours and like I said, at some of the beaches you’ll get to spot the dolphins without having to pay for the tour!
My kiddos fishing and looking for dolphins on our boat:
Like I said before, the Science Museum has beach tours that they do with the kids which can be super fun for your kids that love all things marine life! Also, the museum is a great thing to go do on a rainy day on Tybee.
Again, we bring our boat so we get to do the charter tour for free, but if you don’t have your own boat or it’s out of the budget to rent one, you can take the charter tours and hit up the beaches that are only accessible by boat. My family and I every year go to Wassaw Island and hang out with practically no one else! Seriously, the most that have ever been on Wassaw with us has been 5 other families. So 6 families total on a beach! It was like being on a deserted island! Super fun! So if you’re over the crowds on Tybee, hit up a charter tour and go on your own beach adventure!
Oh and totally random but if you use essential oils, this blend smells soooooo good! So even if traveling to the beach this year is out of the budget, you can transport yourself there with this super amazing blend! It seriously smells just like how the beach does in the early morning hours!
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