From Tybee Lighthouse, scoot out Van Horne to Butler Avenue and take a left. This is Tybee’s main drag, the beach fully public and accessible from any of the numbered side streets on your left.
Go all the way down to Tybrisa (formerly 16th St.) to get a flavor of old Tybee. Here’s where you’ll find the old five-and-dimes like T. S. Chu’s, still a staple of local life, and little diners, ice cream spots, and taverns. The new pride of the island is the large, long pier structure called the Tybrisa Pavilion II, built in 1996 in an attempt to recreate the lost glory of the Tybrisa Pavilion, social and spiritual center of the island’s gregarious resort days. Built in 1891 by the Central of Georgia railroad, the Tybrisa hosted name entertainers and big bands on its expansive dance floor. Sadly, fire destroyed it in 1967, an enormous blow to area morale.
Literally at the foot of the Pavilion you’ll find the Tybee Island Marine Science Center (1510 Strand, 912/786-5917, www.tybeemarinescience.org, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., $4 adults, $3 children), an outstanding resource with nine aquariums and a touch tank featuring native species. Here is the nerve center for the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project, an ongoing effort to document and preserve the local comings-and-goings of the island’s most beloved inhabitant and unofficial mascot, the endangered sea turtle. A very kid-friendly facility despite the seriousness of its mission, the Center holds summer Sea Camps for area children, and indeed one of its goals is to bring a hands-on aspect to educating the public about the area’s rich variety of ocean, dune, and marsh life—only steps away.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition