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Skidaway Island

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Skidaway Island is one of Savannah’s larger coastal islands, found just past the Isle of Hope. Home to a state park popular with campers, it provides yet another great escape from the city.

Savannah Day Trip

There are campgrounds at Skidaway State Park, but since we don’t have a tent, we just spent a few sunny hours exploring the woods. There are a couple trails to choose from, and we went with the three-mile Big Ferry Trail. It was secluded and peaceful, and we enjoyed the views of oaks covered in Spanish moss, swampy marshes and shell middens.

The trail was almost too simple and the three miles passed by in a flash. We came upon a Prohibition-era bootlegging spot with barrels still rotting in place, and earthworks from the Civil War where Confederates prepared for a Union assault that never came. Near the water, there’s an observation deck from where people more invested than us might spot a bird or two.

Perhaps the most fun we had on Skidaway Island was driving east past the state park. Well, as far east as we could manage. This side of the island is dominated by gated communities with names like The Landings and Deer Run. There were a lot of SUVs and a lot of churches, all of which were busy, since it was Sunday. State parks, churches and gated communities… Skidaway might be the perfect representation of a certain type of American dream.

Location on our Savannah Map

Take The Savannah Ghost and Gravestone Tour

Savannah Hiking
Tree Wall
Tarzan Paradise
Haunted Island
Marsh Walk
Skidaway Island
Baumrinde
Shrooms
Savannah Island
Moss Carpet
Bowing Tree
Bootleg
Flying Over Savannah
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January 13, 2011 at 9:28 am Comment (1)

Hunting Island State Park and the Saga of Seventeen Splinters

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After spending the day in Beaufort, we drove out to Hunting Island State Park, a semitropical barrier island that had been used since the 19th century as hunting grounds.

Hunting Island Beach

The park office is in the middle of a huge forest which stretches out along six miles of beach. A number of hiking trails snake through the 50-acre area, which is home to alligators, raccoons, rattlesnakes and more. We started our exploration by climbing 167 steps to the top of the island’s light tower, out of use today except as an excellent lookout point.

After a quick stroll along the beach, we set out on a trail that led by a lagoon where fish were leaping out of the water. The fishermen lining the shore all had big smiles and full buckets. It was a beautiful day, and I was in a great mood. As the trail wound into the forest, I got to feeling energetic, “nature-y” and brave: a combination which nearly always leads to disaster. “Watch this,” I shouted to Jürgen, “I’m going to climb this palm tree like a monkey”.

Bushy

Before he could protest, I took a flying leap at the tree, grabbing it with my hands and feet. Mental Plan: Scurry up a few feet and have a laugh. Painful Reality: On contact, tons of prickly splinters entered my palms and I fell off backwards howling in agony. My hands were full of spiny, slender shards of thorn-wood. It was actually kind of scary to look at.

We cut short the rest of our visit to Hunting Island, and returned home, where I employed tweezers, a needle and copious amounts of vodka to get the splinters out of my hands. It would take more than a month to fully heal.

But of course, the lesson isn’t to avoid Hunting Island… it’s a beautiful place, and I was sad that we had to leave so early. No, the only real lesson to be taken away from this pathetic anecdote is: don’t be an idiot.

Hunting Island – Website
Location on our Map

Hunting Island Book

Dolphin
Fishing Hunting Island
Light House Hunting
Hunting Island Light House
Light House Entrance
Light House Stairs
Light House Detail
Light House Lamp
Optical Illusion
Shadow Walker
Sneaky Beach
Beach
Hidden Beach
Hunting Island
Fishing in the South
Fake Alligator
Bizarre Wood
Eerie Birds
Palm Hunting
Roots
Yellow Spider
Splinter Hand

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December 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm Comments (4)

Championship BBQ at Wiley’s

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A tiny restaurant in a teensy shopping strip, just before Victory Drive merges with the Islands Expressway, Wiley’s Championship BBQ is a real find. It’s been voted the best barbecue in Savannah multiple times in its short life, and for good reason.

Better Than Sex BBQ

We’ve been twice, and have had the chance to meet the owners, Wiley and Janet. They’re relative newcomers to Savannah, but have been perfecting their barbecue sauce for years on the competition circuit. Their sauce’s name is “Better than Sex,” and while I might not go that far, it’s awfully close. And “Practically Comparable with Sex” is high praise, indeed!

Janet sat down at our table while we gorged ourselves on Redneck Nachos, their most popular appetizer, and a sampler basket full of meat. Wiley’s is small, with room for about 30 people, and always crowded. I asked if they planned on moving somewhere larger, given their obvious popularity, but she and Wiley are happy right where they are. They get a lot of regulars, and many tourists stop in as well. Often, there’s a line out the door.

If you’re looking for quality barbecue made by awesome people, head over to Wiley’s. The ten-minute drive from downtown is definitely worth it. And make sure to order the beef brisket!

Location on our Map
Wiley’s Championship Barbecue – Website

EVERYTHING BBQ

BBQ Tank
BBQ Oven
Juicy BBQ
Georgia BBQ
Packed BBQ
Bar B Que
Redneck Nachos
The Wileys BBQ Savannah
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December 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm Comments (6)

Fort Pulaski – The South’s Not So Invincible Stronghold

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The road to Tybee Island takes you right by Cockspur Island, home to Fort Pulaski. Originally built after the War of 1812, the fort is now a national monument.

Pulaski Entrance

Fort Pulaski has been well-maintained by the National Park Service, and a visit introduces you to both its architecture and history. When Georgia seceded from the Union in 1860, confederate troops moved into the impenetrable stronghold, in order to protect the city from attack along the river. Savannah had one of the South’s most important ports, and control of Fort Pulaski guaranteed the flow of goods which were vital to the war effort.

Fort Pulaski was thought to be unassailable. There nearest solid land is over a mile away, on Tybee Island, and so the Union was unable to place cannons near enough to damage the fort. But the South didn’t know that the Yanks had a new, secret weapon: the rifled cannon. And it proved effective. After 30 hours of devastating bombardment, the white flag went up over Pulaski. Union troops secured the fort and effectively shut down Savannah as a Confederate resource. It was a huge loss for the South.

There are guided tours of the fort every day, which do a great job of bringing the fort’s fascinating history to life. And we can also recommend a walk around Cockspur Island, for the chance to spot wildlife. We saw a deer during our visit.

Fort Pulaski National Monument – Website
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Fort Pulaski
Pulaski Walls
Pulaski Draw Bridge
Pulaski Chains
Magic Waters
Pulaski Canon
Pulaski
Old Wheels
Spiffy Clean Canon
Pulaski Stairs
Pulaski Tabby
Pulaski TNT
Canon and a rope
Hooked Pulaski
Pulaski Defense
Savannah
Pulaski Chair
Sad Little Boat
Pulaski Soldier
Last Soldier Pulaski
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December 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm Comments (3)

In the Water with North Island Kayak

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Click here to buy kayaks online

There are a lot of activities you can do on Tybee Island, but one of the best is to go kayaking. We decided to take my brother, who happened to be visiting, as a surprise present for his birthday.

Lighthouse Kayak

We arrived early at North Island Surf & Kayak, on the interior border of Tybee Island. The shop’s owner was out-of-town, but his parents had come down from Augusta to manage the place. They were a friendly couple, possessed of that southern tendency to immediately warm up to complete strangers. We enjoyed long conversations both before and after kayaking, and before leaving at the end of the day, we all got hugged.

We spent the whole day out on the water, paddling up the Lazaretto Creek which flows inland, and then into the ocean. It was a wonderful day, the highlight of which came when a dolphin surfaced just ten feet from my kayak. Being outdoors on a perfect, warm fall morning, exercising muscles that haven’t been used in years… it couldn’t have been better.

The kayaks can be leased for the whole day, and are of good quality; despite being total newbies to the sport, none of us were in danger of capsizing. The shop is perfectly situated. You can choose to go upstream, paddle over to Fort Pulaski, or just coast along the coast of Tybee. They also offer day-long guided tours. If you’re in the mood for some action, check our North Island.

North Island Surf & Kayak – Website
Location on our Map

Kayaking Tybee
Pelicans
Mike Tower
Tybee Sunsey Kayak
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November 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm Comments (5)

Tybee Island – Savannah’s Beach

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Just a short half-hour drive from Savannah, Tybee Island is the region’s top recreational destination, with a beach, surf and kayak shops, nature trails, cool restaurants, dolphin tours and bunch of hotels.

Tybee Island

Tybee was our first excursion outside of Savannah. The drive is easy, a straight shot east along Victory Road, and gorgeous. You go across Whitemarsh Island, and follow the course of the Savannah River past Fort Pulaski until reaching the island. Of course, it might take you a long time to actually arrive at Tybee, as you’ll be tempted to stop frequently for photos of Georgia’s picturesque coastal region.

Our initial visit to Tybee’s beach was a quick one. We had brought our dog, without realizing that they’re prohibited, since turtles use the sand for nesting. So we cracked the windows, paid for parking, left our dog in the car, and took a short walk. Not short enough, unfortunately — we got back five minutes after our parking had expired, and saw a cop already writing a ticket. Tybee’s parking enforcement is notoriously thorough; don’t leave your car parked illegally for even a moment.

Tybee Island was originally inhabited by the Yuchi Indians, in whose language “Tybee” means “salt”. For a brief period at the end of the 50s, it was renamed “Savannah Beach,” and although the original name has been restored, that’s basically what it is. The majority of visitors are hear on day trips from the city. Only about 3000 people live on Tybee full-time, and I would guess that almost all of them are in the tourism business.

If you’d like to learn more about Tybee Island, head toward its most prominent landmark. The Tybee Island Lighthouse can be visited, and includes a small museum dedicated to the history of the island.

Location on our Map

Places to stay on Tybee Island
Tybee Island Books

Tybee Island Lighthouse
Tybee Highway
How Birds Fly
Tybee Houses
Mike Alon
Tybee Pier
Tybee Birds
Sea Beast
Tybee Beach
Tybee Hydrant
No Shark Fishing
Fishing Tybee
Tybee Art
Tybee Insel
Tybee Raven
Tybee Spatz
Tybee Lifeguard
Tybee Lighthouse
Tybee Sunset
Tybee Island Lighthouse
Tybee Island Lighthouse
Tybee Island Lighthouse
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November 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm Comments (8)
Skidaway Island Skidaway Island is one of Savannah's larger coastal islands, found just past the Isle of Hope. Home to a state park popular with campers, it provides yet another great escape from the city.
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