Tybee Island, Georgia, is known for its white-sand beaches, but it has a rich history as well. Starting with the Revolutionary War and continuing until shortly after World War II, Tybee Island served as the gateway and first line of defense for the port city of Savannah. The island‘s history is documented by several well-preserved historic landmarks.
Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
The Tybee Island Lighthouse is the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Georgia. Built in 1736, the lighthouse is 145 feet tall and one of only seven surviving colonial-era lighthouses in the United States. The Tybee Island Museum is across the street from the lighthouse and showcases Tybee Island’s rich history.
Sunrise and sunset tours are offered on select days during the spring, summer, and fall. Tours fill up quickly, so reservations are recommended. The lighthouse and museum are open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The cost of admission is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 6 to 17. Children younger than 6 are free. Admission includes access to the lighthouse, museum, and the head keeper’s cottage.
Visitors should consider booking a hotel close to the lighthouse and museum for easy access to it and other historic sites located on the island. Hotels close to Tybee Island’s many historic sites are also close to beaches, shops, and restaurants.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument is between Savannah and Tybee Island on Cockspur Island and is managed by the National Park Service. Constructed in 1847 to protect Savannah, the fort sits at the mouth of the Savannah River. The park surrounding the fort encompasses more than 5,000 acres, and visitors can hike the many trails that wind through the area. Bicyclists will enjoy a 6-mile trail that follows the rail line that once connected Tybee Island and Savannah.
Tours of Fort Pulaski are offered twice daily and last about an hour. Fort Pulaski is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of admission is $7 for adults and is valid for seven days. Children younger than 16 are free.
Fort Screven is on the north end of Tybee Island and played a vital role in America’s coastal defense system from 1897 to 1947. It was closed, sold to the City of Tybee Island in 1947, and partially converted to private residences in the 1950s.
Fort Screven had seven batteries, two of which are now open to the public. Battery Garland houses the Tybee Island Museum, and Battery Hambright is open for exploration. The fort’s other batteries are visible from the street and beach but are not open for tours. Fort Screven is open daily, and admission is free.
Cockspur Island Lighthouse
The Cockspur Island Lighthouse is preserved by the National Park Service as part of the Fort Pulaski National Monument. It was built in 1855 and extinguished in 1909. Visitors can observe the lighthouse from Fort Pulaski’s walking trails.
Tour the above beautiful landmarks steeped in history during your next visit to Tybee Island. These significant sites offer glimpses into the island’s storied past that visitors shouldn’t miss.