Ossabaw Island, the third large barrier island southwards from Tybee, is a privately-owned wildlife sanctuary administered jointly with the State of Georgia.
Access to the island is managed by the Ossabaw Island Foundation, which restricts visitation to its interior to occasional public scheduled excursions, or pre-arranged group tours (Ossabaw’s beaches, as with all Georgia beaches below the high tide line, are freely open to the public for day use — no permission is required).
If you want to take a tour of or to Ossabaw Island, this can be arranged in several different ways (see below for more details of each):
– Attend a scheduled public tour of the island.
– Obtain permission to visit Ossabaw Island from the Foundation and take one of its tours.
– Take a boat tour to the island with one of the area’s tour or charter companies, which may either include one of the Foundation’s tours or be to the beach and public waterways only. See below
– Take a kayak tour with a local tour company, usually to the beach and public waterways only. See below
!The information below is correct as of June 2017, but please verify all details directly with tour providers before planning your trip.
The Ossabaw Island Foundation offers two types of tour. Public tours, some with special themes or involving an overnight stay on the island, are offered several times per year, usually including round-trip boat transportation to Ossabaw. Tour prices vary, but start around $85 per person. Upcoming trips
Alternatively, groups which have obtained permission from the Foundation to visit the island can arrange to take a guided tour once there: either a walking tour of the North End Plantation ($180 for 6 people) or an extended tour that also visits Middle Place Plantation, the site of Ossabaw’s former Genesis Project ($250 for 6). Overnight visits can also be arranged. You will have to arrange your own transportation to the island. Tour details
Taking a boat tour is the easiest way to enjoy the nature and history of Ossabaw Island. Trips are available year-round, but day-to-day availability will vary according to tides. Advance reservations are recommended.
Some tours will include a visit to the interior of Ossabaw Island, generally a walking tour of its historical and cultural sights. Others will visit the public waterways around Ossabaw, often with a landing on the beach.
Several local boat charter companies explicitly offer excursions to Ossabaw Island (to the public areas on and around the island), and are listed below. Many other area charter companies will be willing to provide a similar trip upon request and may also arrange for access to the island itself on your behalf, please inquire directly.
The boat ride out to Ossabaw (and back) will take from around 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the departure point and how “scenic” a route is taken. Fully guided tours of Ossabaw, whether of its interior cultural attractions or perimeter environments, will require a full day (6-8 hours). Excursion-type trips that involve a ride out to the island and then maybe some beach time can just about be fitted into a half day of around 4 hours.
Three local companies offer guided boat tours to Ossabaw Island, two of which include access to the island through the Ossabaw Island Foundation, and the other being a nature-oriented guided tour of its public areas only. All tours accommodate a maximum of six people.
Savannah Coastal EcoTours offers a 6-7 hour tour, departing from Isle of Hope (other pickup locations possible) and including a walking tour of Ossabaw’s historic and natural sights around its North End Plantation and an optional additional visit to the Middle Place Plantation site.
Trip fees are $555 (which includes the Ossabaw Island Foundation’s $180 visitation fee) for the standard tour or $625 for the extended tour. Call 912-220-6092 or email [email protected] for availability and reservations. Tour details
Tybee Island Charters offers an 8 hour tour departing from Tybee Island, with a leisurely exploration of the creeks and rivers along the way, a walking tour of the North End Plantation and interior Ossabaw, and some time on the beach.
Wilderness Southeast provides 4- or 8-hour tours of Ossabaw, focusing on the ecology and nature of the island’s publicly-accessible areas.
Trip cost varies according to length and number of participants. A 4-hour trip for up to 2 people is $400, rising incrementally up to $500 for 6. The 8-hour trip starts at $600 for 1-2 people, to a maximum of $760 for 6. Call 912-236-8115 or email [email protected] for availability, departure locations and reservations, or book online. Tour details
Many boat charter companies operate in the Savannah-Tybee Island area. Some explicitly offer a fixed-duration excursion to Ossabaw Island as one of their suggested itineraries, with others renting out captained boats on a per-hour or per-day basis to the destination(s) of your choice.
If you arrange a privately-chartered boat trip to Ossabaw, be sure to inquire as to what is included, such as whether it includes beach landing time if you want that or whether the company will be able to arrange for an inland tour via the Ossabaw Island Foundation on your behalf (and if so, whether the Foundation’s fee is included in the charter rate).
These are strenuous, full-day paddling tours which require kayaking experience and physical stamina. Alternative kayaking tours in the Savannah area appropriate for less experienced paddlers (including beginners) are available to Skidaway, Tybee Island and Little Tybee Island.
Due to the time constraints inherent to a paddling trip, these excursions do not include a tour of inland Ossabaw, but will usually visit the island’s beach and public waterways. Inquire directly with the tour providers for a more detailed itinerary. You will usually need to make your own way to the launch site.
Two local guiding companies, Sea Kayak Georgia (based on Tybee Island, at 1102 Highway 80) and Savannah Canoe and Kayak (based in Savannah, at 414 Bonaventure Road), currently offer trips to Ossabaw Island. Advance reservations are recommended.