Tybee Island vs Hilton Head: An Efficient Guide to Choosing Your Day Trip from Savannah

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Planning a day trip from Savannah Georgia? The best options are Tybee Island and Hilton Head but you may be wondering which choice is right for you.

Whether you’re looking to lounge on the beach, climb to the top of a lighthouse for panoramic views, shop till you drop, or tee off for a round of golf, Savannah offers easy access to two great towns for an island day getaway destination.

This post examines Tybee Island vs Hilton Head. We wrote this to cut to the chase with the primary differences between both destinations for beaches, activities, crowds, accommodation, dining, budget, and natural beauty.

Let’s go!

Tybee Island vs Hilton Head

path leading to a beach

Location

Tybee Island

Tybee Island is a 30 minute drive from Savannah.

It’s a cute and quaint beach town with 3 miles of beach shores, beachfront restaurants and bars, and a historic lighthouse dating back to the 18th century.

Hilton Head

Hilton Head is a world-famous resort area and a 45 minute drive from Savannah. It is located in South Carolina.

Hilton Head is revered for its lush championship golf courses, high-end shopping centers, and pristine beaches including the iconic Coligny Beach.

Pro Tip:  No matter which destination you choose, you will need a car.  Plan your itinerary ahead of time to secure a rental and insurance. There are no tolls between Savannah and these two islands, but if you plan to explore beyond, bring your transponder to cover toll charges.

Beaches

woman standing on pier near beach with bag

Tybee Island is known for its laid-back, quirky vibe.

South Beach: This is the busiest and most popular beach on the island, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops nearby. It also has the Tybee Pier and the Tybee Island Marine Science Center for more attractions.

Back River Beach: This is a quieter and more scenic beach, with calm waters and stunning sunset views. It is ideal for fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can also see across to Little Tybee Island from here.

North Beach: This is the best beach for wildlife viewing and shell collecting, as you can spot dolphins and various birds here. It also has the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and Fort Screven for history lovers.

Hilton Head’s beaches are often considered more upscale with resorts.

Coligny Beach Park: This is the most popular beach in Hilton Head, with a boardwalk, public restrooms, showers, and a fountain for kids. It also has the Tiki Hut for drinks and beach volleyball. Coligny Plaza is a short walk away, with many boutiques, restaurants, and ice cream shops.

Driessen Beach Park: This is a mid-island beach that is less crowded and more relaxing. It has a playground, grills, and restrooms for convenience. It is also popular for shore fishing, surfing, and swimming.

Folly Field Beach Park: This is another mid-island beach that has easy access and a wide stretch of sand. It is great for walking, biking, and playing in the tide pools. It has restrooms and showers, but limited parking.

Pro Tip:  What kind of experience are you looking for? Do you prefer a relaxing beach vacation, a cultural break, an adventurous outdoor trip, or something else? Both destinations offer beautiful beaches, but the atmosphere differs.

Activities and Attractions

a tandem bike sitting on a sunny beach

Tybee Island is great for outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, and exploring the historic lighthouse.

Hilton Head offers golf courses, tennis courts, and upscale shopping and dining options.

Pro Tip:  Decide the attractions, landmarks, museums, parks, festivals, events, and other activities that you want to experience. You should also consider the weather, climate, and season of your destination and how they affect your activities.

Crowds and Atmosphere

tybee island shopping

Hilton Head tends to be more crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons.


The peak tourist season for Hilton Head is typically during the summer months, from June to August.

This is when the weather is warmest, and schools are on summer break, leading to higher numbers of visitors.

Additionally, the spring and fall months are also popular times to visit due to milder temperatures and fewer crowds compared to the summer peak season.

Tybee Island offers a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere, which can be appealing for some travelers.

The peak tourist season for Tybee Island is also during the summer months, from June to August.

This is when the weather is warmest, and visitors flock to the island to enjoy its beaches and outdoor activities.

The spring and fall months are also popular times to visit Tybee Island, as the weather is still pleasant, and there are often fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season.

Accommodations

a beach themed bedroom
Expedia.com

Both destinations offer a range of accommodation options, from hotels to vacation rentals and these are our picks for an overnight stay.

Tybee Island

Hotel Tybee: This is a 3 star hotel with private balconies, a tiki bar, and a rich history. It is near the city center and the South Beach.

Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island: This is a 3 star hotel with free WiFi, a year-round outdoor pool, and luxurious amenities like custom overhead rain showers and LED backlit mirrors. It is in a great location and has a delicious food.

DeSoto Beach Bed & Breakfast: This is a 4 star B&B with oceanfront rooms, a heated pool, and a complimentary breakfast. It is the closest B&B to the beach and has a great service.

Hilton Head

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort: This is a 4 star resort with spectacular pools, a full-service spa, access to a championship golf course, and award-winning beaches. It is in a great location and has spacious rooms.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa: This is a 4 star resort with a beachfront oasis, a refreshing pool, a heavenly spa, and a farm & sea to table dining. It is in a great location and has a great breakfast.

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island: This is a 4 star resort with a tropical garden, a zero-entry pool, a full-service spa, and access to a private beach. It is a great location and has spacious rooms with balconies or patios.

Pro Tip:   Compare the prices of your accommodations and see which one fits your budget better. You should also consider the hotel star rating, amenities, as well as the peak season of travel.

Dining

woman smiling in a beach coverup
tacos on a plate

I enjoyed the beachfront restaurants on Tybee Island. The staff were friendly, the tacos were amazing, and the sweet potato fries slapped.

Hilton Head has more upscale dining options, while Tybee Island is known for its casual, beachfront eateries.

Budget

restaurant with menu written on a surf board

Hilton Head is more expensive in every category — accommodation, food, and activities, especially during peak season.

Pro Tip:  Different destinations have different price points for transportation, accommodation, food, and activities. You should compare the prices of your potential destinations and see which one fits your budget better.

Natural Beauty

Both destinations offer stunning natural beauty, but the landscapes slightly differ.

Tybee Island has a more rugged, natural coastal views, while Hilton Head has more manicured beaches and golf courses.

Final Thoughts on Tybee Island vs Hilton Head

These are some of the main things that travelers should consider when making a decision between Tybee Island and Hilton Head as a destination.

Of course, many other factors influence my decisions such as my personal goals, preferences, and experiences desired.

Ultimately, the best destination for you is the one that makes you happy and fulfilled.

Safe travels.


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2 Comments

  1. Tybee and Hilton Head are hard to compare because they are very different. But… some major differences are facilities for guests, parking fees, and the ability to take you dog on the beach. Tybee looses out on all of these. Tybee – parking – 365 days/ year, 8:00 a to 8:00 p it’s $3.50 an hour, minimum 2 hours, aggressively enforced. HH: free beach parking. HH showers and restrooms at most public beaches, Tybee – only one bathroom & shower and it’s at North Beach, Tybee – no dogs on the beach ever with aggressive ticketing and exorbitant fines ($300). HH – dogs allowed on the beach all day from Labor Day to Memorial Day and allowed before 10:00a and after 5:00 p in the summer

    1. Tanya (Admin) says:

      Thank you so much for the additional insight, I’m sure dog owners will especially appreciate it!