The Adventure Guide to Savannah

Head just outside this storied Georgia travel destination for wild coastal adventures.

The oldest city in Georgia (established in 1733) is a hotbed of Southern cuisine, best known to travelers for its vibrant culture, funky art, and bevy of Gothic and Greek Revival architecture in a downtown area divided into walkable and scenic squares. But the terrain sitting just outside the historic downtown is even more enticing, as Savannah is nestled on the inner edge of a tangle of barrier islands that buffer the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean. A good number of those barrier islands are undeveloped and protected as parks and wildlife refuges, offering outdoor adventurers desolate beaches, lonely trails and frothy breaks to explore. Mind the seasons, as summer often brings sweltering heat and swarming bugs. Winter, however, is a bastion of mild temperatures, clear skies and empty beaches. Plan accordingly with the following picks for the best outdoor adventures near Savannah. 

 

Sea Kayaking Little Tybee Island 

Tybee Island (highlighted below) is a developed island with a popular beach outside of Savannah. Its sister island, Little Tybee, is a completely undeveloped barrier island that sits just across the mouth of Tybee Creek, a mile from the southern end of Tybee. You need a boat to reach it, but its close proximity makes Little Tybee an ideal sea kayaking adventure. Launch from Tybee’s Back River Beach and paddle the mile of open water. Once on Little Tybee, explore the large beach that faces the Atlantic, or paddle the tidal creeks that meander into the island. If you don’t have a kayak, several outfitters in Savannah offer rentals and guided tours. Pay attention to the daily tides and launch your boat accordingly. More info: visittybee.com

Beachcombing Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge

The 10,053-acre Wassaw Island sits just south of Little Tybee Island. Protected as a National Wildlife Refuge, Wassaw is one of the most pristine barrier islands on the East Coast and an important stop for migratory birds. It’s also a hiker’s dream, with 20 miles of dirt roads and 7 miles of boneyard beach to explore. Though the island’s interior is crisscrossed with tidal creeks and marsh, it isn’t open to the public. You’ll need to stick to the beach and adjacent forest, all of which is critical habitat for Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles, so watch your step. Much like Little Tybee, Wassaw is accessible only by boat. If you have your own vessel, you can visit any time between sunrise and sunset. It’s a full-day kayaking excursion for experienced open-water paddlers. Or you can hop on a boat charter. More info: fws.gov

 

Surf Tybee Island 

Tybee Island is Savannah’s beach playground, and home to some of the best surfing on Georgia’s coast. The pier is the center of action on the island, picking up small, but ridable surf on all swells. High tide typically offers the best conditions. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the South Tybee Sandbars, which sit between Tybee and Little Tybee islands. This offshore sandbar break offers long, mellow waves perfect for longboards. It’s a hefty paddle to reach the breaks, though, so it isn’t ideal for beginners. More info: surfline.com

 

Camp (and Hike) at Skidaway Island State Park 

Car camping around Savannah is scarce. Unless you want to pitch a tent in a developed RV resort, the 588-acre Skidaway Island State Park is your best bet. The park has 87 campsites (some of which cater to RVs) that are developed in typical state park fashion (gravel pads, picnic tables and electricity), but offer a bit of privacy thanks to the mature coastal forest canopy surrounding most sites. You can also reserve a rustic camper cabin if you’re looking for four solid walls and your own bathroom. Either way, you’ll likely be surrounded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Campsites are $45 a night. And you’ll have 6 miles of trails just outside your tent flap that traverse the park’s maritime forest and tidal creeks. The 1-mile Sandpiper Loop is a must-hike, as boardwalks take you over salt marshes and bubbling creeks through a pristine coastal forest. More info: gastateparks.org

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.