tybee island lighthouse at dusk

Ultimate Guide To Visiting Tybee Island Lighthouse (2023)

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Interested in visiting Tybee Island Lighthouse? Look no further as we are giving you all the details about visiting this iconic lighthouse museum!

As frequent travelers, we have been to Tybee Island and experienced firsthand the beauty of its lighthouse. So we can tell you from experience that it’s a sight worth seeing!

Whether you’re into history or just want to take in some incredible views from up top, a visit to the lighthouse is not one you’ll soon forget.

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Facts & History Of Tybee Island Lighthouse

Located near the entrance to the Savannah River, the lighthouse was originally built in 1736.

The first structure was damaged in a storm, and the second came down due to erosion (these two originals were mainly made from wood).

The third lighthouse built at this location was made from brick but was badly burned by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War in 1862.

Fortunately, only the top half was damaged, so it was decided that rather than rebuilding the entire thing, they would rebuild the top only. That way, they could save costs and maintain the bottom of the structure.

lighthouse on tybee island

In the 1870s, the lighthouse was damaged again by both a hurricane and an earthquake but was quickly repaired.

So it has definitely seen its fair share of struggles and damage over the years!

With the changing times, the lighthouse tower has had a variety of “looks.” It has been all white, variations of the black and white theme, and white and grey.

In the early 200os, the Tybee Island Historical Society did a complete restoration, bringing the lighthouse to its current coloring (a nod to what it looked like from the 1920s to the 1950s).

Today, the lighthouse stands at 145 ft, making it the tallest and oldest lighthouse in Georgia.


Map of Tybee Island Light Station And Museum

As you can see from the map, the lighthouse sits on the Northeast tip of the island. The island itself is a close drive to Savannah, which is also a great place to spend a day.

google map of tybee island lighthouse on the island as well as showing it is quite close to savannah

Lighthouse At Tybee Island Pricing

Adult Admission: $12

Seniors (62+) and Children (6-17): $10

Children under 5: FREE

There are a few discounts, like military or groups with reservations. So pricing can vary slightly.

Lighthouse Hours

The hours for the lighthouse are daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The grounds surrounding the lighthouse are open until 5:30 pm, but the last tickets are sold at 4:30 pm to give you a chance to look around.

It is closed every week on Tuesdays and New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

And it has shortened hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

lighthouse in georgia

What Can You See During Your Visit To The Lighthouse

The property encompasses 5 acres, so let’s talk about what you can see during a visit.

Lighthouse

First, check out the lighthouse itself, as it is the main attraction. You can go to the top for some incredible views.

Buildings

There are several historic support buildings on the property.

Start with the two keepers’ cottages, one of them houses a short video about the lighthouse’s history. Then swing by the summer kitchen where you can view archeological finds from the area.

You can also see a summer cottage, built in 1908, that has been moved to the lighthouse grounds. This raised cottage shows the layout and style of the houses from that time period when well-to-do families would spend their summers on the island.

Last on the grounds is an old garage that is now the gift shop.

Museum

As part of your ticket, you can also head across the street to look at the Tybee Island Museum located inside Battery Garland.

The museum shares details about island life from colonial days all the way through World War II.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: If you decide to head to the Tybee Museum, don’t miss the periscope located in the gift shop that provides you with an interesting view of the lighthouse.

the iconic black and white lighthouse tower on tybee island

Does Tybee Island Lighthouse Have An Elevator

Unfortunately, the lighthouse does not have an elevator.

Overall, the attraction is not very disabled-friendly. While there are pathways between the attractions, the majority of the buildings on-site have stairs to see inside.

Can You Climb Tybee Lighthouse

Yes! As part of the admission fee, you can go inside the lighthouse and climb to the top. Though, the site does reserve the right to close it at any time due to inclement weather.

There are 178 steps to the viewing platform at the top. The views are stunning and completely worth the effort if you think you are physically able to make the climb.

the lighthouse stands in the background with long blowing grass in the foreground

Important Information To Know For Your Visit

Let’s go over some information you might find helpful before your visit.

Parking

Parking on Tybee Island is pretty much pay-to-park in all public lots. However, the lighthouse does have its own parking lot for visitors that is free for up to 2 hours while you are looking around the property.

If you are staying on the island, we suggest leaving your car at your accommodation and walking the island. The island encompasses only 3.7 miles of land, so you can pretty much get anywhere with your own two feet.

But if you are just visiting the island for the day to see some attractions, instead budget some money for parking. The average is around $4 per hour.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: Bicycles are also a great way to get around, and there are plenty of places to rent one!

Rules & Drone Policy

Shirt and shoes are required. You are not allowed to wear a bathing suit unless it is covered.

Drones are only allowed to fly over the lighthouse when it is NOT open. So you are free to fly before 9 am, after 5:30 pm, and anytime on Tuesday.

Not Allowed To Bring With You

Tybee Island lightstation is quite strict with what you can bring.

You cannot bring a backpack of any size. No tripods or monopods. Large purses and rigid camera bags are also a no-no.

They do not allow food, gum, or any drinks except water on the premises. And if you are coming straight from the beach, make sure to leave the beach towels and bags in the car or a safe location.

Make sure Fido stays at home, as they aren’t allowed either.

And you can’t smoke or bring weapons onto the premises.

tybee island lighthouse at dusk

Best Time To Visit Tybee Island

The best time to visit Tybee Island and the lighthouse will be late spring or early fall. From late March to late May and from early September to late October are going to be the ideal weather conditions for wandering around the island.

During these shoulder seasons to the height of summer, many of the attractions are still open, and the weather is perfect. Temperatures average between 70ยฐ F and 85ยฐ F during the day. The evenings will cool down, and a light jacket may be required.

Of course, summer is also a good time to stop by, especially if you want to head into the water while on the island.

Tybee Island has always been a popular spot for families to have a vacation home and come during the summer. The downside is it will be quite hot and humid. But the trade-off is that many activities are always going on during the summer months.

Tybee Island Tours

If you want to see Tybee Island but are staying in Savannah without a car, you can still visit the island and lighthouse with the Tybee Island Dolphin Cruise.

This 1/2 day tour will take you on a quick tour of historic downtown Savannah before hopping on a boat to cruise around looking for dolphins and other coastal wildlife.

Then it is off to Tybee Island, where you can climb the lighthouse for views or even head to the local beach for a bit if you wish.

โžก๏ธ Book the Tybee Island Dolphin Cruise with Lighthouse

lighthouse and palm tree

Nearby Attractions

There are many other interesting attractions on Tybee Island or located very close by. Let’s look at a few.

Tybee Beach Pier

The pier is located about 3 miles from the lighthouse on South Beach and is free to visit. South beach is considered the downtown district, so you will find all the restaurants and shopping, with the pier being a tourist draw.

Walk along the beach, watch the waves, or take a dip. Make sure you head to the end of the pier to take in the awesome views and see if anyone is fishing.

The pier holds festivals and events (including weddings), so check what is happening during your visit.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: Head under the pier for some interesting photographs.

North Beach For Birding

North Beach is the best place on Tybee Island to do some birding. As Georgia sits on the coast, most of the birds seen here will be sea and shorebirds.

Several species are full-time residents and can be seen year-round. So no matter the season, if you are a birder, it is worth a visit. But winter brings many migrating and seasonal birds, making it extra special during this time of year.

In addition to birds, dolphins can sometimes be spotted in the water. It is also the best place on the island to find shells and fossils.

Fort Pulaski

Located northwest of Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski National Monument is on Cockspur Island. For military history buffs, this fort makes for an interesting half-day trip.

Fort Pulaski was used during the Civil War. Surrounded by a moat, it has a drawbridge entrance. Today you will find re-enactments, rifled cannons on display, and barracks that once housed prisoners of war.

Make sure to climb up onto the wall for a great birds-eye view of the fort and surrounding areas.

If you want to make a day of seeing Tybee Island Light Station and Ft Pulaski from Savannah, this tour will be perfect. In just over half a day, you get to see both locations AND spend some time at the pier or beach to top it off.

โžก๏ธ Book the Tybee Island – Ft Pulaski tour

fort pulaski entrance

FAQs For Tybee Island Light Station And Museum (& The Island Itself)

Let’s answer some common questions about the lighthouse and island.

Can You Go In The Tybee Island Lighthouse?

Yes, you can go inside the lighthouse. It’s open to the public and you can climb up 178 steps to reach the top platform, which is 75 feet above sea level. You will be rewarded with stunning views of Tybee Island and its surrounding area. So explore this iconic landmark!

Is Tybee Island Worth Visiting?

Absolutely! Tybee Island offers something for everyone, from exploring the iconic lighthouse to taking in the stunning beach views. Plus, there are plenty of other activities and attractions like fishing, biking trails, and various restaurants and shops. There’s always something to do on this incredible island.

Do You Have To Pay To Get On Tybee Island?

No, you don’t have to pay for access to Tybee Island. However, once on the island, plan to pay for parking. The island is pay-to-park, so you will be expected to pay an hourly fee pretty much wherever you go on the island.

Can You Drive Your Car On Tybee Island?

Yes, you can drive your car on Tybee Island. However, be sure to observe the speed limits and park in designated areas only. A few private roads on the island require permits or permission from property owners before driving. Additionally, some of the access points to the beach may also have restrictions, so always check before entering.

Is There Free Parking At Tybee Island?

Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of free parking on Tybee Island. The island is mainly pay-to-park, and you can expect to pay an hourly fee pretty much wherever you go. Even if you find a free spot, be sure to double-check, as often, these spots are reserved for local residents or businesses.

Can You Walk Everywhere On Tybee Island?

Yes, you can walk everywhere on Tybee Island. With its small size and flat terrain, it’s a great place for walking and exploring. Take the time to wander around and discover some of the hidden gems this incredible island offers. You’ll get to experience firsthand what makes Tybee Island so special.

How Far Apart Is Savannah And Tybee Island?

Savannah and Tybee Island are located just 20 miles apart. It’s a short drive, making it easy to explore both cities in one day. Even if you choose to take a few scenic stops along the way, you’ll get there quickly! So don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to explore two of Georgia’s most beautiful cities.

The tybee island light station at night with stars in the sky and the lighthouse lit up

To Finish – Ultimate Guide To Visiting Tybee Island Lighthouse

This lighthouse was beyond our expectations. Even though we ended up with a cloudy evening, it didn’t diminish the sight of the impressive lighthouse itself.

And the island has so much to do that the lighthouse can truly be just a small portion of your visit. From sandy beaches to great restaurants, you can turn this day trip into a week with no problems.

Just make sure you stop by and see the historical Tybee Island lighthouse during your stay.