Touring the coast: Tybee Island Lighthouse

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

National Geographic Traveler has highlighted fifty “Drives of a Lifetime.” A route along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts is one of the trips discussed. Several small detours would take you to historic places like the Tybee Island lighthouse.

The NatGeo overview reads:


Tybee Island Lighthouse in 2004.

A pungent, slightly salty smell permeates the air of the Low Country. Its source is the area’s pluff mud: the dark marsh soil left behind after the tide recedes. That smell—and term—is one of the Low Country’s many distinctive qualities. Other features that tend to leave lasting impressions on visitors include the wide, flat expanses of marsh grass, the shrill songs of tree frogs and katydids, the silhouettes of live oak trees, their long, arching limbs shrouded in silvery clumps of Spanish moss. Then there’s the seemingly omnipresent water—tidal marshes, rivers, estuaries, and the Atlantic Ocean—often with at least one shrimp boat trawling. On a road trip through the Low Country, Charleston and Savannah make convenient bookends. Some backtracking is required in between—out to the islands, and then back to the main road—but that just gives you more time to absorb the scenery. After all, this trip should not be rushed, but made slowly, Southern style.

Take this drive and you will see many historic buildings, including at the beginning city of Charleston, and at the end of the route in Savannah. Underground will be the remains of many archaeological sites. A few can be visited at museums and public parks.

After completing the driving tour, you could take short drive seaward from Savannah, and visit Tybee Island, where a series of lighthouses have helped sailors safely enter the Savannah River and go up to Savannah.

The Tybee Lighthouse website notes:

Ordered by General James Oglethorpe, Governor of the 13th colony, in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 270 years. The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America’s most intact having all of its historic support buildings on its five-acre site. Rebuilt several times the current lightstation displays its 1916 day mark with 178 stairs and a First Order Fresnel lens (nine feet tall).

Little known fact reported in the NatGeo story: the jungle scenes in the movie Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks, were shot on Hunting Island, South Carolina!