How Safe Is Tybee Island for Travel?

Tybee Island, United States
Safety Index:
82

Tybee Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia.

It’s the easternmost point of Georgia and is surrounded on three sides by sunny, sandy beaches.

It’s just 30 minutes from the city of Savannah, making this a great day trip for those who live or visit that city, but it’s also a vacation destination in its own right.

Tybee Island has five beach destinations:

  • Little Tybee Beach (the “avoid large crowds” beach)
  • Back River Beach (where a small fishing pier is located)
  • South Beach (where the big pier is located)
  • Mid Beach (the busiest spot)
  • North Beach (where the lighthouse is located)

You might hear some locals refer to this as Savannah Island, but the name is officially Tybee Island.

This small island holds a lot of excitement, from lighthouse tours to Fort Pulaski to nightclubs to dining and shopping.

There’s a Marine Sanctuary and Marine Science Center if you want to see sea life without going in the water.

You don’t want to miss one of the fresh seafood dinners caught and served in the same area.

Tybee Island is a safe, affordable getaway that is close to land but feels like a tropical world away from normal life.

Warnings & Dangers in Tybee Island

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

The low overall risk is thanks to an attentive police department, a small landmass, and locals who want to preserve the charm of the community for years to come. The biggest risk in June - November is hurricanes, which could quickly shut down this tiny island.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

There's low risk when taking the public transportation options here. You either want to bring a car to get to the island and then park it while using the variety of bike and shuttle services on the island, or you can rideshare from Savannah.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

Only 6 larcenies were reported in 2020, giving it a staggeringly low risk. Yeah, that number seemed low to me too, so I double-checked and then dug into some 2021 numbers posted by Tybee Island Police. Thefts are just very low here.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Hurricanes are a big concern during the season, which again is June - November. There's a medium risk of a hurricane hitting or impacting Tybee Island. You'll get plenty of notice if a storm is brewing, they don't just pop up overnight. The island can get severe thunderstorms and lightning is always a concern in an outdoor community. Follow the rules "Go indoors when thunder roars" and you'll be just fine.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

There's a low risk here too. Digging through the crime data, I saw a couple of thefts from motor vehicles, so allow me the common reminder of "Don't let personal belongings or valuables in plain sight in your car when heading to an attraction or the beach."

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There's a low risk of terrorists going after one of the safest islands I've ever researched. There is, however, a nuclear bomb in the waters off Tybee Island. More on that later in this article.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk of falling victim to a rental scam. This is a popular trend with crooks in destination beach locations. They'll find pictures of a home and offer that home for rent at a discounted price. A tourist gets all excited about the "great deal" and hands over the money ahead of time to reserve the rental. The tourist arrives on Tybee Island to find it was a scam and they lost their money. Don't wire money ahead of time ever for a vacation rental. If a deal seems too good to be true, it is. Contact a local rental company in Tybee Island that has a legit business license to get a safe rental experience.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

There's a low risk for women here in general, but if you are going to be drinking, have a buddy with you. Don't take a drink you didn't see poured. Don't walk around drunk. There were several arrested for public drunkenness on those crime reports.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

There's a low risk when drinking or using tap water as it meets or exceeds all safety standards from a state and federal level. Tropical storms and hurricanes can cause water quality issues and there will be water warnings if that happens.

Safest Places to Visit in Tybee Island

There are two big tourist attractions based on the history of Tybee Island.

Fort Pulaski is a 6-mile ride from the Island and has Civil War history in its masonry walls.

I’ve visited plenty of forts along beaches in my travels and I have to say they are downright stunning to see in person.

The Tybee Island Light Station and Museum is a popular and safe spot to visit.

If you aren’t terrified of heights, you can go up to the top of the lighthouse.

Allow me a brief story.

I am terrified of heights but I love lighthouses, so I went up to the Tybee Island lighthouse.

I was too scared to walk out on the balcony and was trying to build up the courage.

A 10-year-old boy was just as scared as I was, but his parents were encouraging him to go out.

He didn’t want to admit he was scared, so I said “Tell them you’re staying with the scared lady inside the lighthouse because you are a nice guy.”

It worked and he got ice cream for being so nice to me.

The view from the top of the lighthouse is stunning and you can see ships for miles off the coast.

Beachside, there are fishing activities and the big draw is hunting for Megaladon Shark teeth.

These massive sharks have been extinct for two million years but their teeth still wash up on the Tybee Island beaches.

You can also book one of the many sea excursion options available on Tybee Island.

When you shop on Tybee Island it’s all locally owned and operated, so you’re giving right back to the local community.

There are also several art galleries on the island.

All that touring gives you an appetite and Tybee Island mixes the best of Southern cuisine with seafood recipes.

Placess to Avoid in Tybee Island

If I was writing this in the 1600s or 1700s, I could tell you about all the dangers of pirates and pillaging on the island.

I could warn you of soldiers searching for enemies ready to battle if this was during the Revolutionary War or Civil War.

However, I’m writing this in the 2020s and there are very few places to avoid.

The pirates are long gone.

It’s a safe island.

The beaches wrap just 5 miles.

You do need to avoid the sandbar at the south end of the island at all costs.

During low tide, it looks so inviting.

If you haven’t lived in an area with tides, you should know the tides can rise fast and swiftly.

More than 50 people are rescued each year by ignoring this advice on the Southend Sandbar.

It’s a life-threatening situation for you, your family, and others who might be gullible enough to follow you out.

The same advice goes for the smaller, yet more dangerous, North Beach sandbar.

Those big ships that pass offshore stir up water surges that hit this sandbar.

One surge and you can be swept off your feet and carried out into the channel.

There are no lifeguards at this beach.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Tybee Island

  1. When you swim at the beach, you are banned from going more than 50 yards offshore. If the lifeguard doesn’t catch you, the sharks might, so stay close to the water and follow the rules.
  2. There’s a nuclear bomb in the waters off Tybee Island. Seriously. In 1958, a U.S. Military accidentally dropped a 7600-pound weapon of mass destruction 100 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb in the waters off Tybee Island. A big mistake in itself, but even worse is that the military hasn’t been able to find it despite many attempts. While there’s said to be no environmental damage caused by this uranium-enriched bomb, it’s still creepy to think it’s out there—somewhere.
  3. You can pay for parking on Tybee Island with a parking app. This prevents you from having to take out money so use this option as much as you can.
  4. Near Mid Beach there’s a strict no-smoking zone. It’s from 14th Street to 16th Street in the main commercial district area and onto the surrounding beach and water.
  5. You’ll need a basic fishing license in Georgia for any freshwater, and if you want to go saltwater fishing, you’ll need a special permit for that. All of these can be obtained on the Georgia Wildlife website.
  6. On the backside of Tybee Island, you might see some alligators. The animals live in freshwater, and there’s a gator hole on Little Tybee. Alligators generally don’t mess with people, we’re too big and loud for their taste, but there have been occasional attacks. If you see one, go the other way. OK, snap a quick picture, and then go the other way.
  7. If you are visiting Tybee Island from Savannah during a busy time of year, traffic is going to be very busy and slow. There’s just one way in and out of the island and that’s down a two and sometimes four-lane road. Be patient, or go early.
  8. The nightlife on Tybee Island can be fun, but this is also one of the most dangerous times. Drunk people acting out and causing fights or damage can ruin a fun night out. Even looking through the monthly crime logs of the Tybee Island Police, there are at least 2-5 people each month who just can’t control themselves and get arrested. For those looking to drink underage? Yeah, several arrests for that as well. Don’t risk it. The drinking age is 21.
  9. The strong current of the Atlantic Ocean can push jellyfish onto the shore. As powerful as their sting is, the jellyfish can’t swim, so they just live wherever the water takes them. It’s easy to look around and not notice jellyfish underfoot. The sting can ruin your day and cause large amounts of pain at best, and at worst it can send you into anaphylactic shock.
  10. Grab some Dramamine if you’ve never been on a boat before and want to do a sea excursion. The rough waters of the ocean can quickly bring on seasickness, so it’s better to plan than be stuck miles offshore throwing up repeatedly.

So... How Safe Is Tybee Island Really?

Aside from the nuclear warhead lingering somewhere offshore, it’s pretty safe.

Petty crimes dominate the crime reports, like public drunkenness, underage drinking, disorderly conduct, and traffic citations.

The real dangers are in the water.

That sandbar warning is real and can be deadly.

Rental scams are the biggest concern for people who are looking to stay on the island.

You need to make sure your landlord is licensed and if something seems like too good of a deal it probably is.

How Does Tybee Island Compare?

CitySafety Index
Tybee Island82
Atlanta58
St Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63

Useful Information

  • Visas - You'll take care of Visa requirements at the airport or port of entry. You will need a legal ID to get into bars and nightclubs on the island. Many of the excursions require a legal ID as well.
  • Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the currency here. Pay for attractions ahead of time if you can, but bring some walking-around money just in case you find a cash-only business or need to tip a vendor.
  • Weather - November - March you'll have highs in the upper 50s and low 60s with temperatures dropping as low as the upper 30s. Bring a heavy jacket or a coat. May - September you'll enjoy highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s or 70s. The island gets about 50" of rain per year, so bring rain gear.
  • Airports - The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is the closest option and it's about an hour away from Tybee Island. The Jacksonville, Florida airport is about two hours away to the south of Savannah. The Atlanta Airport is five hours northwest of the island.
  • Travel Insurance - Hurricanes, rogue winter storms in the South, unexpected delays all are good reasons to get travel insurance for your trip to Tybee Island, Georgia.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Tybee Island Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 11° C
Feb 12° C
Mar 15° C
Apr 19° C
May 23° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 28° C
Aug 28° C
Sep 26° C
Oct 21° C
Nov 16° C
Dec 13° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
141618222529313028241916
Low
°C
781116202325252318129
High
°F
576164727784888682756661
Low
°F
454652616873777773645448

Where to Next?

1 Review on Tybee Island

  1. Wonderful, just wonderful!

    Tybee Island is a great place for a vacation or just for recharging your batteries. There’s not much going on in the crime department meaning you will be safe. One thing that is mentioned in this article and I completely agree with is the potential for scams. Some people don’t do their research and take the word of scammers that promise them great deals and discounts on homes for rent. NEVER, EVER give your money before you actually see the property yourself, unless it’s through a well known agency. Otherwise it’s probably a scam and many people have fallen victim to such things.

    Other than this, the place is safe and welcoming with great people and many places to enjoy. One thing I will add because I must is the seafood here: it was delicious! Never had such great seafood in my life.

    Having fun on the beach is probably the main activity, with many beaches available here. A few nice beaches you can try out are Savannah River Beach, South Beach, North Beach and my personal fave, Back River Beach. This last one is not as crowded as others and it has a certain peaceful feel to it that can’t be explained in words.

    I highly recommend going on a tour with Dr. Joe. It’s inexpensive and you’ll have some of the best 2 hours of your trip. Beachcombing, finding live specimens and learning about them (it’s great for both kids and adults alike). Make sure you reserve your spot with plenty of time in advance as he’s very sought after.

    There’s paddle boarding, kayaking (which is probably the best way to see this island and its fauna), tours with Captain Mike, the Lighthouse museum, etc.

    If you’re visiting with kids, make sure to go to Fort Pulaski. This place is great on its own, offering many interesting things and kids can also become a Junior Ranger here by doing some activities. They will get a badge and certificate which will mean a lot to them!

Rated 5 / 5 based on 1 user reviews.

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