The road to Tybee winds its way through marsh. Sure, at low tide it may not look like more than ruddy sludge, but when the tide is in, the sun glistening on the water, the vibrant green of the marsh grass stretching out for miles, the drive is truly breathtaking.
It’s easy to forget that the waterways and marshland that surround Savannah and Tybee Island are teeming with life: sea turtles, crabs, sharks, jellyfish, and even dolphins call these waterways home.
Spending the day at the beach is easy on Tybee. My personal favorite spot is North Beach. Located right at the mouth of the Savannah River, it’s a great location for seeing dolphins. It’s right next to the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, so there is ample parking. The North Beach Grill is sand and kid friendly, and often has live music on the weekends. Bonus: There are brand new bathrooms, showers and a concession stand right next to the North Beach Grill.
If you’ve seen the movie The Last Song, starring Greg Kinnear and Miley Cyrus, you’ve already seen North Beach’s parking lot. You’ve also seen the lengths that Tybee residents are willing to go to in order to protect the nests of Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Volunteers with The Tybee Sea Turtle Project, a conservation program by the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, begin walking Tybee’s three miles of beach every morning (Dawn Patrol) starting in May. They look for any evidence of sea turtles, and when a nest is found and confirmed, they rope it off. Nesting season lasts through October, and it’s important to play your part when you visit Tybee to ensure their survival:
- If you brought it, take it with you. Balloons, plastic bags, and other non-degradable litter can cause the deaths of many sea turtles who mistake them for food.
- Observe from a distance.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, do not shine lights on or around her – she may abandon her nest.
The Marine Science Center has a one-hour Turtle Talk walk appropriate for all ages, and is a great way to learn more about sea turtles. They even let you excavate a mock nest. The walks are $10 per person, and you can call 912-786-5917 or stop by the center to reserve space.
Looking for a way to get off the beach and on the water? There are a variety of charters and tours available on Tybee Island. While the fear of seasickness (I feel your pain!) may be enough to keep you land-bound, a dolphin tour is well worth the risk. Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours have been voted Best Adventure Tour on Tybee Island for the last 9 years and counting!
Dolphins love swimming alongside boats, and the tour guides know all the best spots to find them in their natural habitat. If you’re not exhausted from all there is to do on Tybee before dusk, I urge you to head back to the beach. Sunset is feeding time for dolphins, and I’ve personally spotted several over the years, even occasionally swimming just a few yards away from me. Whether you’re in or out of the water by then, there’s nothing quite like watching dolphins at sunset while you’re on the beach with your family and friends.