Standing by the entrance of the Savannah River, on the Northeast end of a small island on the Southeastern coast of Georgia, stands the tallest and oldest lighthouse in Georgia. This is where you’ll discover the charm of the Tybee Island Lighthouse. First constructed over 275 years ago, this lighthouse is one of only seven remaining colonial era light towers.
The current Tybee Island Lighthouse is the fourth lighthouse built at this site. Under the direction of James Oglethorpe, the 1st tower was constructed and stood 90 feet tall, was unlit, built from wood and completed in 1736. However, only five short years later the lighthouse was destroyed by a storm in 1741. Acting quickly, the 2nd tower was completed a short year later in 1742, constructed of wood and stone, this tower rose 94 feet above the earth and was topped with a 32 foot flagpole. This tower remained unlit just like its predecessor. Due to erosion from the sea, this tower only stood about 30 years before meeting its demise.
In 1773, the 3rd tower on Tybee Island was built. This time, the tower was moved inland away from the shore, and was built from brick. This was the first tower to be outfitted with a light, which consisted of candles and reflectors and was later modified to use oil lamps. This tower rose a staggering 100 feet above the ground. The lighthouse remained intact for almost 90 years until it was set on fire and its light removed by Confederate forces during the civil war. After the war was over, reconstruction began on the lighthouse in 1866. Only the base (the first 60 feet) of the 3rd tower could be salvaged, so an additional 94 feet was added to this base bringing the reconstructed lighthouse to 154 feet which was completed in 1867. The lighthouse stood tall until 1871 when nature once again caused damage to the lighthouse. A hurricane caused such extensive damage that repairing the lighthouse was unfeasible, and instead funds were requested to replace the lighthouse. A new tower was built, this time from iron. New facilities were built for both the head and assistant light keepers, and all construction was completed by 1885. In 1886, an earthquake struck the area and once again damaged the lighthouse. However, the damage was not too extensive and was soon repaired.
In 1933, modernization reached the lighthouse and the kerosene light source that was being used was replaced with electricity, and in 1972 the beacon was automated. Throughout its history the Tybee Island Lighthouse has undergone extensive changes. Almost 300 years later, and the lighthouse is still functional and used as a navigational aid.
You can visit the lighthouse daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (except for Tuesday). The lighthouse is closed on (St. Patrick’s, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) day. Find a map and directions in our Business Directory.
30 Meddin Dr
Tybee Island, GA 31328
The cost for admission: (ticket sales end at 4:30 p.m.)
- Adult – $8.00
- Seniors (62 & over) – $6.00
- Children (from 6 to 17) – $6.00
- Children (5 or under) – Free
- Groups (10 + with a reservation) – $6.00.
- Military (ID required) – $6.00
- Coast Guard (ID required) – Free