Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion. This is Tybee's "grand strand," the center of the summer beach action. Anchored by a 700-foot pier that is sometimes host to summer concerts, this stretch of shoreline is your best bet for people-watching and beach activities. Just off the sand at the bustling intersection of Tybrisa Street and Butler Avenue, a cluster of watering holes, souvenir shops, bike shacks, and oyster bars makes up Tybee's main business district. There's metered street parking as well as two good-size lots. Both fill up fast during the high season, so arrive early. There are public restrooms at the Pier and at 15th and Tybrisa Streets. The pier is popular for fishing and is also the gathering place for fireworks displays. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguard; parking (fee); toilets. Best for: partiers; sunrise; surfing; swimming. Tybrisa St. at Butler Ave., Tybee Island, Georgia, 31328. 912/652--6780.
North Beach. Tybee Island's North Beach is an all-in-one destination for beachgoers of every age. Located at the mouth of the Savannah River, the scene is generally low-key and is a great vantage point for viewing the cargo ships making their way to the Port of Savannah. A large, metered parking lot gives you convenient access to the beach, Fort Screven, and the adjacent Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum, a 178-step lighthouse with great views of the surrounding area. The North Beach Grill, located in the parking lot, is perfect for an ice-cold beverage or bite to eat. To get here from Highway 80, turn left on Campbell Street and follow the signs to the Tybee Island Lighthouse. The local police are notorious for parking tickets, so make sure you feed the meter. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguard; parking (fee); toilets. Best for: solitude; sunrise; swimming; walking. Meddin Dr. at Gulick St., north of 1st St., Tybee Island, Georgia, 31328.
South End. If your idea of a good beach day involves empty stretches of sand, unobstructed views, plenty of privacy, and the sound of crashing waves, then you should test the waters at the south end. As its name suggests, the south end is located at the southern tip of the island where Tybee's Back River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Riptides and strong currents are prevalent here, so use extreme caution when swimming. At low tide, the waters recede to expose a stunning system of sandbars that are great for shelling and spotting sea life. Check the tides to make sure you don't get stranded on the sandbars. This is one of Tybee's prettiest beaches, and is worshipped by locals for its seclusion. There are no restaurants in the immediate vicinity, so it's a good idea to bring a cooler packed with snacks and beverages. Parking is tough—just two very small metered lots. In high season, arrive on the early or the late side, when crowds are thinner. Amenities: parking (fee). Best for: sunset; walking; windsurfing; sea kayaking. Butler Ave., at 19th St., Tybee Island, Georgia, 31328.