Tybee Island Vs Jekyll Island: Which Georgia Barrier Island Is Better For Your Beach Vacation?

With miles of sandy shores, gentle waves, and laidback vibes, Tybee Island and Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast attract beachgoers looking to soak up the sun. But which barrier island should you choose for your next vacation by the sea?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Jekyll Island offers more activities and amenities as a state park resort, while Tybee Island provides a more relaxed, old-fashioned beach town atmosphere.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare and contrast what both islands have to offer. Read on to discover the best beach, sights, places to stay, dining options, and more to determine whether Tybee or Jekyll is the ideal barrier island retreat for you.

Beaches and Outdoor Recreation

When planning a beach vacation in Georgia, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer beautiful beaches and a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day by the ocean or an adventure-filled getaway, both islands have something to offer.

Beach Scenery and Vibe

Tybee Island, located just 20 minutes from Savannah, is known for its laid-back and lively atmosphere. The beach on Tybee Island has a vibrant and energetic vibe, with families and groups of friends enjoying the sun, sand, and surf.

The beach is lined with colorful beach cottages, and the nearby Tybee Pier and Pavilion is a popular spot for fishing and people-watching.

Jekyll Island, on the other hand, offers a more serene and secluded beach experience. The beaches on Jekyll Island are uncrowded and peaceful, making it the perfect destination for those seeking tranquility.

The island is also home to the driftwood beach, known for its unique and picturesque landscape created by the fallen trees.

Coastline Features

Tybee Island boasts a long stretch of sandy beaches, with plenty of space for sunbathing, beach volleyball, and building sandcastles. The island is also home to the Tybee Island Light Station, Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, which offers stunning views of the coastline.

Jekyll Island, on the other hand, has a more diverse coastline with a mix of sandy beaches, marshes, and tidal creeks. The island is known for its natural beauty and is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Visitors can explore the island’s marshes and tidal creeks by kayak or take a guided tour to learn about the island’s unique ecosystem.

Watersports and Activities

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a wide range of watersports and activities for visitors to enjoy. On Tybee Island, you can try your hand at surfing, paddleboarding, or even parasailing. The island is also a popular spot for dolphin-watching tours and deep-sea fishing excursions.

Jekyll Island is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, with several fishing piers and boat rentals available. The island also has miles of biking and hiking trails, perfect for exploring the island’s natural beauty.

Nature lovers can also visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rehabilitation and education center dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles.

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island have official websites where you can find more information about the beaches and outdoor activities they offer. Visit www.tybeeisland.com for Tybee Island and www.jekyllisland.com for Jekyll Island.

Sights and Attractions

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a range of sights and attractions that are sure to enhance your beach vacation experience. Whether you’re interested in history, family entertainment, or vibrant nightlife, these barrier islands have something for everyone.

Museums and Historic Sites

For history buffs, Jekyll Island is a treasure trove of museums and historic sites. The Jekyll Island Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past as a retreat for America’s wealthiest families. Visitors can explore restored cottages and learn about the island’s role in the Gilded Age.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is another must-visit attraction, where you can learn about conservation efforts and even see rehabilitated sea turtles up close.

Tybee Island also has its fair share of history. The Tybee Island Light Station and Museum is a must-see for those interested in maritime history. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views of the island.

The Fort Pulaski National Monument is another popular attraction, offering a look into the history of the Civil War.

Family Entertainment Venues

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a variety of family entertainment venues to keep everyone entertained. Tybee Island boasts the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, where visitors of all ages can learn about the island’s unique marine ecosystem through interactive exhibits and programs.

The Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion is another popular spot, perfect for fishing or simply enjoying the ocean views.

Jekyll Island is home to the Jekyll Island Mini Golf, a fun-filled activity for the whole family. The Summer Waves Water Park is another popular attraction, offering thrilling water slides and lazy rivers. Families can also enjoy bike rentals and explore the island’s scenic trails.


When it comes to nightlife, Tybee Island shines with its vibrant atmosphere. The island is known for its live music scene, with numerous bars and restaurants offering nightly entertainment. Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back beachfront bar or a lively dance club, Tybee Island has something for everyone.

Jekyll Island, on the other hand, offers a more relaxed and serene nightlife experience. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach or indulge in a romantic dinner at one of the island’s upscale restaurants.

The island’s peaceful ambiance provides the perfect setting for a quiet evening under the stars.



Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a range of hotels to suit different budgets and preferences. From luxury resorts to cozy beachfront inns, you’ll find a variety of options to choose from. Tybee Island boasts a number of beachfront hotels that offer stunning ocean views and easy access to the beach.

On the other hand, Jekyll Island is known for its historic hotels and elegant resorts, many of which are located in the beautiful Jekyll Island Club Historic District.

Vacation Rentals

If you prefer a more private and home-like experience, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer an array of vacation rentals. From beachfront cottages to spacious condos, you can find the perfect rental for your beach vacation.

Websites like VRBO and Airbnb are great resources to browse and book vacation rentals on both islands. Renting a vacation home allows you to have more space, a kitchen to cook your own meals, and often access to amenities such as pools and private beach access.

Camping Options

For those who enjoy camping and being closer to nature, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer camping options. Tybee Island has several campgrounds, such as River’s End Campground and RV Park, which provide facilities for tents and RVs.

Jekyll Island also has a campground called Jekyll Island Campground, where you can pitch your tent and enjoy the island’s natural beauty. Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors and is often more affordable than staying in hotels or vacation rentals.

Ultimately, whether you choose to stay in a hotel, vacation rental, or campground depends on your personal preferences and budget. Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a range of accommodations to suit different needs, so you can find the perfect place to stay for your beach vacation.

Dining and Cuisine

When it comes to dining and cuisine, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a wide range of options to satisfy your taste buds. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or a fine dining experience, you’ll find something to suit your preferences on both islands.

Seafood Restaurants

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island boast a variety of seafood restaurants that serve up delicious dishes straight from the ocean. From local favorites to upscale establishments, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

On Tybee Island, one popular seafood spot is the Crab Shack, known for its laid-back atmosphere and mouthwatering seafood platters. They offer a wide selection of fresh seafood, including crab legs, shrimp, and oysters.

Jekyll Island is home to the The Wharf, a waterfront restaurant that offers stunning views and a diverse menu. From grilled fish to steamed shrimp, their seafood dishes are sure to impress even the most discerning palate.

Casual Dining

If you’re looking for a more relaxed dining experience, both islands have plenty of options for casual dining.

On Tybee Island, you can’t miss The Breakfast Club, a local favorite known for its hearty breakfast dishes. From fluffy pancakes to savory omelets, they have something to satisfy every craving.

Jekyll Island offers The Sandbar & Kitchen, a casual beachfront restaurant that serves up delicious burgers, sandwiches, and salads. It’s the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat after a day of exploring the island.

Fine Dining

If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island have options that will impress even the most discerning foodie.

Tybee Island is home to 80 East Gastropub, a fine dining establishment that offers a fusion of Southern flavors and international cuisine. Their menu features dishes like braised short ribs and seared scallops, paired with an extensive wine list.

Jekyll Island boasts Grand Dining Room, located in the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort. This elegant restaurant offers a refined dining experience with a menu that highlights local ingredients. From filet mignon to lobster bisque, every dish is prepared with precision and care.

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer a diverse range of dining options, ensuring that every visitor can find something to satisfy their taste buds. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, casual dining, or a fine dining experience, both islands have you covered.

Getting There and Around

Location and Accessibility

Tybee Island and Jekyll Island are both located on the coast of Georgia, making them easily accessible for beach vacations. Tybee Island is situated just 18 miles east of Savannah, while Jekyll Island is located about 80 miles south of Savannah.

Both islands are easily reachable by car, with well-maintained roads leading to each destination. Visitors can enjoy a scenic drive through the coastal landscapes to reach their desired island getaway.

Public Transportation

When it comes to public transportation, Tybee Island has a slight advantage. The island offers a convenient shuttle service, known as the Tybee Island Shuttle, which provides transportation to various locations on the island.

This shuttle service is especially useful for visitors who prefer not to drive or want to explore the island without the hassle of finding parking. Jekyll Island, on the other hand, does not have a dedicated public transportation system.

While there are taxis available, having a car is more convenient for getting around the island.

Biking Opportunities

Both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island offer excellent biking opportunities for those who enjoy exploring on two wheels. Tybee Island has a bike-friendly community and offers bike rentals for visitors. With its flat terrain and scenic routes, biking around the island is a popular activity.

Jekyll Island also provides bike rentals and has over 20 miles of paved biking trails, allowing visitors to discover the island’s natural beauty at their own pace. Whether you choose Tybee Island or Jekyll Island, biking is a fantastic way to soak up the sun and enjoy the coastal breeze.


With stretches of sand perfect for lounging, intriguing sights from historic landmarks to family fun centers, places to stay to suit different budgets, mouthwatering Lowcountry fare, and relative ease of access, both Tybee Island and Jekyll Island have their own unique coastal charm.

Which is better comes down to the type of island experience you desire.

If you seek a peaceful escape surrounded by natural beauty, Tybee Island and its retro beach town vibe can’t be beat. But those wanting more action with resort amenities will find their ideal oceanfront playground on Jekyll Island.

Hopefully this guide has helped you decide whether Tybee or Jekyll is calling your name for that upcoming beach vacation!

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