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Digging Up The Past With Sundial Charters Fossil Hunting Tour Exploring Tybee Island On Land and By Sea

When someone says to me, “My, what big teeth you have!” I take their comment as a compliment. I know they are referring to my collection of megalodon and other shark teeth unearthed on my Tybee Island Sundial Charters Fossil Hunting Expedition. Most days, my Savannah real estate career takes me house hunting. But when my mother, Diane, and her friend, Bob, dropped in from Florida to visit, I traded my Realtor hat for a Dora The Explorer sun visor to play a budding archeologist who unearths marine artifacts.

We booked a four-hour afternoon Sundial Charters tour and met our two guides at Tybee Island’s Back River dock. Sundial Charters was founded by two Tybee Island natives, Captain Rene Heidt and Captain David Heidt. The Heidts intentionally brought a naturalist’s perspective to the selection of eco-tours offered by their business. This perspective was evident in the information we received from our informative guides throughout the day’s tour.

The Sundial Charters website suggests explorers pack for a full day on the boat; sunscreen, a hat, and a bathing suit. The guides provide a cooler with ice so you can bring your snacks and drinks.

After climbing aboard our charter boat, we began by cruising through the peaceful Back River marshes and down Tybee Creek. This route afforded great views of Little Tybee Island. Larger than Tybee Island, this 6500-acre natural heritage preserve is a popular destination for day camping, bird watching, fishing, and salt marsh ecology study. Our slow float took us to the Bull River and on to the Savannah River. I can’t give away the top-secret locations we excavated to find fossils. However, our guides knew the best beaches and muddy marsh banks to search for seaglass, fossilized shells, shark teeth, stingray barbs, and alligator remains. Even though our boat was a small skiff, it allowed easy access to the shoreline. With our guides’ assistance and a small stepstool, we hopped on and off the craft at each location.

A highlight of our adventure was the impressive sight of cargo ships passing in the distance on their way to the Savannah Georgia Port Authority docks. Our knowledgeable guides informed us that the fossils we were hunting had been unearthed by the Georgia Ports Authority’s river bottom dredging activity. These mega-ton ships require a deep draft to reach their unloading docks. Data gleaned from the Port’s website states the Savannah Garden City terminal is the nation’s fourth busiest container terminal port and the single largest container terminal in America. These enormous ships offered quite a contrast to our small watercraft.

Once you get to the digging sites, the guides suggest you work a grid pattern up and down the coastline and keep your eyes open for fossils. Our four-hour dig netted seaglass of various shades buffed to soft hues, shark teeth, fossilized shells, and ancient fish vertebrae. Each of our discoveries elicited “ohs and ahs” from our appreciative group. Not all our findings were buried in sand and mud. We spotted active wildlife throughout the day. Playful dolphins, pelicans, egrets, herons, and yes, very much alive alligators were plentiful. At the end of our treasure hunting tour, we headed back to the dock to examine our fossils and other finds. All of us agreed it was a successful and educational afternoon of exploring. I definitely recommend booking a tour and plan to take other out-of-town visitors on this unique adventure.

After unloading the boat, our trio opted for dinner at the Seawolf Restaurant, 106 S. Campbell Ave. The restaurant menu features fancy cocktails, oysters, and specialty dogs and includes several vegan options. We filled up on fresh-caught oysters and a delicious five-layer dip.

Ice cream after dinner? Yes, please. We could not skip a visit to the Sugar Shack, 301 First St. This family-owned business has been operating since 1971. The Upside-Down Banana Split looked appealing; however, we chose some Hand-Dipped Jersey Ice Cream cones.

Nicknamed “Savannah’s Beach” for its proximity and easy access to Savannah, this barrier island offers other enjoyable activities on and off the water. I plan to return to the island for more sea and river adventures. Renting a kayak from Sea Kayak Georgia to reach Little Tybee and renting a bike from Tim’s Bike and Beach Gear for a ride on the North Beach Birding Trail are both on my bucket list. Before heading out on either of these excursions, I can fuel up at The Breakfast Club, 1500 Butler Ave. This no-frills diner earned a spot on USA Today’s ”Ten Best List” of Savannah area eateries.

According to the City of Tybee Island website, there are approximately 3000-plus Tybee permanent residents. To the local population’s credit, the town supports a variety of cultural activities. These include entertainment events at the historic Tybee Island Post Theater and numerous local art galleries. A visit to the Tybee Cottage Art Gallery is time well spent admiring the work of talented local artists. This co-op features twenty-four artists creating in several mediums.

The Georgia Film Office has successfully marketed Tybee Island as a location for national movie and television shoots. It is not unusual to see camera crews working on the island. Past productions include Gemini Man, the Beach House, Magic Mike, Baywatch, and the Last Song among others.

History and educational opportunities can be experienced with a visit to the still operational Tybee Island Lighthouse Station and Museum, the 19th-century remnants of Fort Screven, and the Marine Science Center.

Many visitors to Tybee Island are so taken with the island lifestyle they become either permanent or seasonal residents. As a Savannah Georgia Realtor, I have represented both residential real estate buyers and sellers of this slice of Georgia coastal paradise. Several living options are available, from charming beach cottages to historic waterfront homes. Commercial real estate is also thriving. Area locals and year-round visitors support a busy retail and lodging industry.

I am an investor-friendly Savannah Realtor experienced in residential and commercial property transactions. In addition to being a Seabolt Real Estate Associate Broker, I am also a preferred agent with the national Bigger Pockets Investor Network. Contact me if you are house-hunting or fossil-hunting and need assistance. I am available to connect with interested explorers from every walk of life.

Enjoy more exploring with these links:


Sundial Charters

City of Tybee Island

Sea Wolf Restaurant

Sugar Shack

Tim’s Bikes, Beach & Disc Golf

Georgia Port Authority

The Breakfast Club Restaurant

North Beach Birding Trail

Tybee Cottage Art Gallery

Movies filmed on Tybee Island

Tybee Island Post Theater

Tybee Island Marine Science Center

Tybee Island Light Station and Museum

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