Little Tybee, owned by the state of Georgia, is an uninhabited barrier island lying just to the south of Tybee Island. It is made up of salt marsh interspersed with hardwood hammocks and fronts the Atlantic Ocean with pristine beaches. It is an undisturbed nature preserve with no hotels or other dwellings on the island, but camping is allowed.
The only way to get to Little Tybee is by boat or kayak. Many local charter services on Tybee will take you to tour the island or to camp and kayak rental and tours are available.
Rarities that have been sighted on Little Tybee include: roseate spoonbill, reddish egret, and the curlew sandpiper. Osprey and bald eagles nest on the island. In the winter large numbers of shorebirds gather to rest on its beaches including whimbrels, dowitchers, and piping plovers. Egrets, herons, ibis, and storks are numerous and there are a few nesting spots on the island for these birds. In the summer oystercatchers, Wilson’s plover, and the endangered Least Tern nest on its undisturbed beaches. These birds are easy to see but you are requested to stay away from the posted nesting sites.
I’ve camped here a good bit as it’s one of the only local places that isn’t lot camping. The “bone yard” as it’s called by locals is an area of fallen, uprooted trees on the eastern side of the island that is absolutely gorgeous (and fun to climb through). Bonus is that there’s never a shortage of firewood! Also the sunrise is absolutely spectacular at this site. I think it’s also important to check the wind speed/direction before camping here. I came out on a turbid night once and flipped my kayak! Which as a kayak instructor I’ve never done before - unintentionally. My sleeping bag was soaked! But overall it’s one of my favorite coastal sites. Secluded - but paddling distance (~1 mile) to AJ’s Dockside Restaurant.
Campground Review: Little Tybee Island is an undeveloped barrier island off the Georgia coast, that can only be accessed via kayak/boat. Despite its name, the island is huge--around 6000 acres--with several species of rare birds, making it a popular place for day trips in addition to camping. There is no fee to camp on the island, however the parking fee on Tybee Island, where you launch from, is $2/hour, or a maximum of $24/day.
This island is absolutely gorgeous. While camping is permitted anywhere, the island is entirely undeveloped, and much of it is overgrown or marshland, so the best camping spots are in hammocks located near the shore on the eastern side of the island unless you are a very experienced paddler and have the confidence to explore the streams on the island's interior. When we stayed, we kayaked in to a hammock about one mile from the developed Tybee Island, to a series of hammocks just on the other side of the aptly named "oak graveyard;" where several fallen oak trees stick out of the ocean. We camped on a Sunday night, and while there were other campers who had been there over the weekend, we had the beach to ourselves once the tide started coming in and they left for the mainland.
There are absolutely no amenities here--you must pack in all water you will need as there is not water available for filtration, and there are no services, so all trash must be packed out. The tides are extreme so choose your campsite carefully, and check tide tables before kayaking in or out (it is best to head out with the receding tide, and head back with the rising tide). The sun can be relentless and the winds can be strong, and there are also alligators, raccoons, and several species of venomous snake--this island is still largely untouched by man, and so proper preparation is needed, along with respect for the wildness of the area. All that aside, I would come back here again and again, for the beauty and solitude. It's rare to find oceanfront camping where you can pitch your tent on the sand and not be surrounded by so many other people, so if you don't mind the extra effort involved, this place is nothing short of magical.
Gear Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am periodically given gear to test and review. For this trip I was able to use the ER210 E+Ready Compact Emergency Crank WX Radio.
This radio was perfect for this trip. It has AM/FM bands and a weather alert channel directly from NOAA that updates for your area. Being at the beach, we were able to not only listen to the weather forecast for temperature/wind speed/precipitation, but also tide tables and water current information. While we had cell signal on this island, I didn't know if we would in advance and wanted to make sure we had a way of monitoring possible storm activity, and could verify the tides since timing your trips in/out of the island are heavily dependent on the tides. The radio also has emergency alerts, sounding an alarm if there is a national weather service alert for anything from thunderstorms to hurricanes, or any other weather system that could move through your region.
The radio can charge in three ways; via USB, a solar cell, or a hand crank, ensuring you can use it in even the most remote settings or roughest weather, and the antennae extends for greater signal receptivity. There is also a flashlight with two brightness levels, and is programmed to flash SOS if necessary--another reason we wanted this specifically for this trip, so we could signal for help if we got stranded for any reason and could not use our phones.
We used the compact version; there is a larger version of this radio that includes all of the above features, in addition to a dog whistle to assist in SAR, and the ability to charge phones/smart devices through the radio.