Known as Savannah’s Beach, Tybee Island is located eighteen miles east of the city on the Atlantic Ocean. For many visitors, the action is centered on South Beach, site of the Tybee Pier and Pavilion and steps away from the souvenir shops, casual eateries, and frozen daiquiri bars lining lively Tybrisa and Strand streets.
For others, like me, it’s the island’s quieter North Beach—steeped in military history and home to attractions honoring the island’s maritime legacy—that beckons. Adding to the appeal is Tybee’s newest bed and breakfast, Surf Song, just a block from the beach on Officers Row in the Fort Screven Historic District.
The handsome two-and-a-half-story house was one of eleven constructed for ranking officers and their families a century ago, when Fort Screven served as an active military post. No doubt, the home’s former residents would be pleased with the new owners’ discipline and orderliness. Ohio-born sisters Sherry Stipp and Cindy Sukal purchased the aging Free Classic Queen Anne–style home two years ago and pumped a quarter-million dollars—and thousands of hours—into an intense ten-week renovation that returned the property to its former glory. Their careful restoration preserved the coffered-tin ceilings, coal fireplaces with decorative tile surrounds, and floors of maple and heart pine. And Stipp’s selection of a soft color palette, sheer window treatments, and an uncluttered design concept allow these architectural elements to shine.
In fact, it’s the attention to detail and the gracious spirit the fun-loving, fifty-something snowbirds bring to the B&B that make Surf Song a standout. Guests will find homemade cakes and candies in the kitchen and a sparkling new pool just off the wide wraparound veranda. The five well-kept guest rooms are classically furnished and flooded with natural light. And someone—usually Sukal, who lives on the property and oversees day-to-day operations—is always on hand to offer suggestions for exploring the surrounding area, from touring Fort Screven’s concrete batteries (one of which houses the Tybee Island Museum) to strolling the beach in search of seashells.
Of course, the primary objective of any great B&B is making guests feel at home. And while Stipp and Sukal are as formidable as drill sergeants when it comes to the inn’s housekeeping and maintenance, their ultimate aim—expressed in Surf Song’s motto, “Enter as strangers. Leave as friends.”—is seeing to the all-important esprit de corps. At this, the sisters of Surf Song win the day.
21 Officers Row, Tybee Island, Georgia, 912-472-1040, tybeesurfsong.com