“Are we there yet?” A common question we hear from the mouths of our anxious little ones while on the road to somewhere fabulous. When we mentioned the word “beach” to our 6-year-old daughter, Lilliana, that question was asked repeatedly as she was itching to get into the ocean. With little brother, 2-year-old Seth, on board, the four of us set out on an adventure we soon won’t forget. Beach time fun on Tybee Island in Georgia.
Beached on the Beach
Our trip took an unexpected twist as we learned we were headed toward a tropical storm. Beryl was making it’s way toward the Atlantic coast, and we didn’t know where it was going to land. But, that didn’t stop us … or any of the other beach goers.
We were bound and determined to stick our feet in the sand and have fun. Little did we know that during a tropical storm, the undertow is stronger than usual. Needless to say, the double red flags were flown and the beach was closed to swimming, even when the sun decided to finally show. So, we looked for seashells and still made the most of our beach time. We took a stroll down the pier and watched the fishermen try to get the catch of the day, and enjoyed watching the swirling ocean slam against the pier. We strolled along the streets and enjoyed window shopping. That right there is enough to make someone hungry.
Get Your Grub On!
If you want to eat somewhere casual and exciting, you must make your way over to The Crab Shack (40 Estill Hammock Road; 912-786-9857; thecrabshack.com). While you wait for your table, enjoy viewing and feeding baby alligators in front of the restaurant, see a few exotic birds within the Gift Shack or watch for dolphins that sometime swim into the area out by the dock. The Crab Shack is nestled right on the edge of the banks of Chimney Creek. There are a few tables that sit right by the water, and you may be lucky enough to spot a dolphin or two. The seafood here is fresh and phenomenal. I, personally, am very picky when it comes to seafood, but always up for trying new things. The Homemade Deviled Crab Plate is different and very tasty, but the crab legs were my absolute favorite. There’s something for everyone here, so don’t worry about non-seafood eaters — the Pulled Pork Sandwich is yummy!
If you’re not up to dining out and your accommodation is equipped with a kitchen, enjoy cooking the fresh catch of the day. We were just around the corner to the most wonderful fresh fish market I had ever been to, Bowie Seafood (801 First St.; 912-786-8211). Here, you can get crabs, shrimp, oysters, pick from a variety of fish and more … all caught each morning. We watched them slice our fish right there. They have all you need to season your dinner, too. It’s also fun watching the live crabs trying to escape from their crate while waiting for your order.
From a Bird’s Eye View
If you are not afraid of heights, then a climb to the top of the lighthouse at Tybee Island Light Station and Museum is in order (30 Meddin Ave., 912-786-5801; tybeelighthouse.org; $8 adults, $6 ages 6 – 17, free ages 5 and younger). Be ready for a 178 step climb up because it won’t be just the view that will take your breath away. We went the day after the storm cleared and the sky was blue as can be. You can see for miles around. This lighthouse has been around for more than 270 years providing guidance to mariners coming to the Savannah River. Once you get to the top, hang on to the little ones as it can get pretty windy. Seth was a little scared, but Lilliana loved every minute of it, including the climb!
I Spy …
For a more leisurely outing, there are several opportunities to play a game of I Spy with your children. Captain Mike’s Dolphin Adventure Tours (Lazaretto Creek Marina; 800-242-0166; tybeedolphins.com; $15 adults, $8 ages 12 and younger) is a fun way to get up close to our finned friends. It was only minutes after we were out in the ocean that we spied several dolphins. Lilliana was amazed to see so many and thrilled to keep yelling out, “There’s another dolphin!” Even Seth was pointing and beaming with excitement to see so many. I don’t know if it was because of the shrimp boat near by, but we came across nearly 20 dolphins all at once. We were even so lucky as to see one jump completely out of the water! The dolphins came very close to the boat and the guide was quick enough to keep us near them without interfering with the waterways and other boaters. The guide also gives a little history behind the area and how to spot a baby dolphin. This was the most spectacular encounter we were so blessed to have enjoyed together as a family.
For those of you who are into more scary sorts of creatures, you should take a drive over to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. There is a free four-mile drive at the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive (fws.gov/savannah) and it’s filled with wild alligators and beautiful birds of all kinds. It’s open from sunrise to sunset and is located 35 minutes north of Tybee Island (seven miles north of Savannah). Get your cameras ready because it’s hard to spot an alligator and they soon disappear. We were fortunate enough to spot several, and some even just a few feet away from the car. This was the most exciting part of our adventure for our son, Seth, as he recently learned to say “alligator” and he knew what he was looking for.
Where to Stay
Even though the beach was closed to swimming, we were still able to wet our imaginary fins at the cottage’s private pool. The Splash Shack, a vacation rental home from Tybee Cottages (877-524-9819; tybeecottages.com), is the place to stay. We were so at home here that the storms didn’t keep us from sleeping soundly. This quaint little cottage is the perfect size for a small family and it’s filled with all the amenities including a laundry room, full kitchen, living room, dining room, two bedrooms, one bath and a fenced-in-yard. Because most of our days here were spent inside due to the storm, we played games and had great family bonding time. This house had toys in the living room for the toddler set, board and card games for the older kids, books for parents to read, a few family movies and, of course, the private pool (pictured). As if that isn’t enough, this little home away from home is walking distance to Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and a local park.
If you’re looking for a great fall break getaway, make plans now for this great destination.