Tybee Island: A laid-back seaside town

Cox NewspapersMarch 25, 2012 


FOR TRAVEL CP ON TYBEE ISLAND (1tybee0210) - The Tybee Island, Ga., lighthouse and restored lighthouse keeper's cottage, right, are part of coastal Georgia's tourist attractions. Tybee Island is a laid-back beach community of 3,390 residents off Savannah. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)


If you rent a bike on Tybee Island, there’s a small detail you might notice that says a lot about the place’s culture: cup holders. Most of the bikes (and there are plenty) riding around the flat roads of this laid-back, seaside town are equipped with a cup holder on the handlebars. Because that’s just how easy Tybeeans like to take it.

Tybee Island is a tiny city 18 miles outside Savannah, Ga. Like the rest of the state’s Barrier Islands, Tybee has a beach on one side and a salt marsh on the other. The beach is what attracts the tourists, who eclipse the population of fewer than 3,000 locals, especially in the summertime.

To say that Tybee is relaxed would be an understatement. Activities on the island primarily center on the beach, where life is not meant to move quickly. Bike rentals abound, seafood restaurants are pricey but fresh, and alcohol is served in plastic to-go cups (remember that cup holder I mentioned?).

We ate at Fannie’s on the Beach (1613 Strand Ave., fanniesonthebeach.com) enjoying a view of the ocean and a live band. Don’t forget to bring some change (or a credit card) for the parking meters. There is no free parking on Tybee.

There are a few historical sites to visit, including Fort Screven and the Tybee Lighthouse. Festivals and celebrations attract visitors as well, like the Pirate Festival (Oct. 5-7, tybeepiratefest.com) and Fourth of July fireworks. Gift shops are filled with kitschy trinkets, including hermit crabs with hand-painted shells.

I regret that I didn’t have one of the tourist shops make me a custom airbrushed T-shirt with a dolphin jumping through a rainbow, but my bike does have its very own cup holder now.

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