Tucked away on the southern tip of Tybee Island is Back River Beach. While most visitors choose to spend their day on the popular triad of Tybee beaches (North Beach, Mid, and South), it would be a shame to miss this hidden spot, as it offers spectacular views from a different-facing part of the island (Tybee Island faces east but Back River Beach faces west, overlooking Tybee Creek and Little Tybee Island). The beach is at the end of Highway 80 and it is best accessed via the end of Chatham Avenue.
Parking at Back River can be challenging. Even though there is a parking lot ($2/hour) right by the beach, just like on the rest of the island, this particular parking lot is a lot smaller than the other ones and it can fill up fast. Quite annoyingly, most of the space was taken up by boat trailers on the day our family visited.
Back River Beach is a clean and well-maintained off the beaten track spot on Tybee Island. It is tranquil and perfect for a walk, as it has white, soft sand, peppered with lots of tiny seashells. It has quite a few fishing piers and seems to be a great fishing spot (though my children found the smell of fish on the beach overpowering).
Back River Beach is not ideal for swimming. The water is shallow but the currents can be quite strong. Sharks and stingrays have also been reported in the area. As there are no lifeguards, it felt safer to partake in other types of beach activities instead. We rented a kayak, which we took to Little Tybee Island, an unspoiled tiny island across the river. Paddleboards were also available for rental from Tybee Jet Ski & Watersports. While we didn’t have enough time to do one on the day we visited, Dolphin Tours are also offered by a couple of companies on the beach.
The best thing about Back River Beach is the sunset view! I have never seen a sunset with so many colors. Definitely a must-see. I also found the locals to be exceptionally friendly and helpful. What made me quite sad is that they said Back River Beach is rapidly changing because of tourism, with all the jet skis in the sea and condos springing up everywhere obstructing the beach views and taking away from this scenic location’s natural and effortless charm. A final highlight was all the wildlife – from turtles to pelicans and dolphins. It was so amazing to just relax on the beach watching the animals.
There is not much in terms of amenities on this beach. The toilets are near the Back River Fishing Pier but there are no facilities such as changing rooms and bathhouses.
For me, Back River Beach is a place to finish off your day on Tybee Island. Because Back River is much smaller than the other beaches on the island, I would say an ideal day would involve swimming at South Beach, followed by a chilled late afternoon and early evening in Back River. Take off your shoes and head to The Crab Shack for some crab (as the name suggests!) and a cocktail, while taking in the gorgeous views.
- 30 minutes from Savannah, GA
- 4 hours 30 minutes from Atlanta, GA
- 2 hours 30 minutes from Jacksonville, FL