While visiting any town food is at the top of our list. The Crab Shack in Tybee Island is not only a great restaurant but offers some adventures for the whole family. They also offer outdoor pet-friendly dining so it is Bo Approved!
The Tybee Island Crab Shack, known as The Original Crab Shack is a great place centrally located on the western side of Tybee on Chimney Creek. The spot was originally a Fish Camp where locals could launch their boats and get bait, beer, and other necessities for their fishing trips. In 1983, Jack and Linda Flanigan purchased the Fish Camp and migrated from Atlanta.
After moving to Tybee Island, Jack, and Linda obtained their captain’s licenses the began running a marina and charters from the 4-acre site. Since the fishing was great, bare feet were allowed, and the shellfish was in abundance, the Crab Shack became popular with locals and travelers alike. They originally started with just a few days a week, but it quickly grew into one of the most popular restaurants in the area and has been growing ever since.
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When I contacted the General Manager of the restaurant to let them know we would be visiting. She mentioned that the Crab Shack is two different places. Not only is it a restaurant with the finest crabs around but it also has some attractions to visit while you are there. I wanted to go during the day to get photos. We headed over during the mid-afternoon to see everything they had to offer.
When you first pull in your will notice some cabins on the property. There is also a warehouse and a smokehouse. The entire area is covered under an oak hammock, so it is nice and cool. The outdoor seating looks so inviting, with the warm sun trickling through the oak trees.
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Gift Shop and Bird Sanctuary
While we were waiting for the manager, we found a gift shop and a room with exotic birds in their own area. The room housed several tropical birds that the owners had rescued. Being a bird owner myself I appreciated that the owner was helping to rescue these beautiful birds.
In the gift shop, you will find treats for the Gators and many other relevant Tybee Island souvenirs like hats, T-shirts, and locally crafted spices!
The first thing you see as you approach the restaurant is a hostess stand and a massive crab adorning the entrance. This was the original bar when the Crab Shack was first built. Since then, many decks and rooms have been added to the restaurant to accommodate their growing seafood lovers fan base for the best seafood in town.
As the manager showed us around the venue, there was a sprawling outdoor deck where folks were enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze from the creek. We headed to the docks where we could see one of Captain Jack’s charter boats stranded on the shore. There is plenty of room both inside and outside to accommodate couples to large parties.
The Flanigans have created a tropical oasis for their cold-blooded friends. As you approach the protected area, you will see a lagoon with several small baby alligators.
You can purchase treats for the gators that are nutritious snacks, in the gift shop. There are pretend fishing poles where you attach the treats. Once you have secured the snack on the end of the line, you lower your pole to feed the gator. This is great fun even as an adult. I have interacted with many gators in my lifetime, but I think this was the most fun since I was able to put the food right in front of their snout and watch them snap it up.
Dinner at The Original Crab Shack
After we finished our tour, the manager insisted we come back in the evening. She stated to us that it was a different atmosphere after dark. And I knew exactly what she meant when we arrived. The entire restaurant was lit with twinkly lights and sparkly fish hanging from the ceiling. The lighting made The Crab Shack at night warm and inviting. You could even say it was romantic.
We were seated inside due to the chilly weather. As we sat at our table, we noticed there was a big hole in the middle. The server explained to us that there is a garbage can there, for shells, etc. How clever!
We ordered drinks, and I ordered them based on the server’s recommendations. The Crab Shack does offer a full bar. I ordered the Big Kahuna and Jack got his usual Corona. The Big Kahuna was tasty.
Believe it or not, we do not eat shellfish, so the menu was limited for us. We ended up ordering the roasted chicken and nachos, and they also offered hot dogs. The seafood platters going out looked amazing. The Captain Crab’s Sampler platter was huge, and the tray was piled with Snow Crabs. I love their menu because you can do several different combinations of their many menu items and order them in different sizes for larger parties.
You can check out their menu items here. But if you do not like or can not eat shellfish, there are a couple of items you can still get. Unless the majority of your party eats shellfish and pork, I would not recommend bringing too many of those friends to The Crabshack. Their primary focus is shellfish and pork BBQ, and I can tell by the happy faces they do it right and with great service and great food!
All in all, The Crab Shack was a great experience with plenty to do, see and eat while you are there. The atmosphere of the original sleepy little fishing camp was authentic, clean, and in the evenings romantic and inviting. It is still a very casual restaurant, but the service was also excellent. The Crab Shack is a Tybee Island staple that you must visit for the best outdoor dining and delicious food. I know it may look like a tourist trap, but the casual dining atmosphere, live music, and delicious food will not disappoint. If you are looking for a Tybee Island low-country dining experience, The Crab Shack will be sure to please.
The Crab Shack has the following hours, but please check directly with the restaurant on the phone number before heading there. They do not currently offer reservations. They are pet-friendly.
Sun- Thu: 12pm-8pm | Fri-Sat: 12pm-9pm
Gift Shack: 12pm-8pm
Crab Legs • Low Country Boil • Oysters • Raw Bar • Shrimp • Pork Chicken • Ribs • Nachos • Soups & Sandwiches