Just the thought of summer casts a spell on people, conjuring dreams of carefree beach days lasting until the sun slips below the horizon. When this happens to you, make your way to Hilton Head Island, a glorious island paradise that will bring to life your magical beach dream. This barrier island lures many to its shores to enjoy all its broad beaches, sub-tropical weather, low-rise oceanfront development, world-class golf and tennis, and hundreds of restaurants and shops.
There’s never a dull moment on Hilton Head Island, with beautiful scenery and fun activities for all ages, you and your loved ones will get closer to nature and to each other. Make plans to come on down to this fabulous island to savor precious time together while collecting a few memories along the way.
Miles of Beautiful Beaches
There are 12 miles worth of reasons beach lovers can’t get enough of Hilton Head. All beaches are public, but access to the beach may be private on plantations and many residential areas. There are nine public beach accesses around the island. Coligny Beach Access is the most popular because of all of the amenities at this location. There is an unloading and loading zone with free parking just a block off the beach. You’ll also find clean bathrooms and showers are conveniently located nearby. A fountain splash area is a great way for little ones to cool off and wash away the sand. Need a break, take a seat in one of the shaded swings or colorful Adirondack rocking chairs. On the lifeguard protected beach, if you don’t want to schlep your own, umbrellas and chairs are available for rent.
Hilton Head is made for people who love to ride a bike. Even if it’s been a while since you last were on one, it’s hard to resist the island’s more than 100 miles of wide, paved bike trails. The well-shaded paths will quite often take you winding among picturesque live oaks with Spanish moss plunging into the scene making for a beautiful ride.
There are 20,000 bikes for rent from kiosks located throughout the biking path system. Visitors can hit the trail for an easy, fun ride to explore the island. You won’t even realize you are getting in a workout because you will be taken in by the beautiful island scenery.
Take a Swing
Hilton Head is known worldwide for its top-notch golf courses and it’s annual PGA Tour event on Harbour Town Golf Links. Golfers can choose among 33 courses with most having family-friendly tees. Each course has its own unique characteristics and challenges to suit every golf enthusiast. Looking to hone your skills, then sign up for an instructional class while on the island. Coaching is available for all skill levels from beginner to advanced.
Harbour Town Lighthouse
Located on Sea Pines Resort, don’t miss the iconic red and white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse. It’s 114 steps to the top and the views make it worth every one. As you ascend, stop to view lighthouse artifacts and learn about the different eras of the island’s history. From the observation deck, take in the unparalleled surrounding land and coastal views. Maybe you will spot a dolphin swimming in the water or watch a golfer take a swing.
The Gregg Russell Harbour Town Playground
Steps away from the lighthouse and adjacent to the marina shops, this playground will entertain young children for hours. A tree house, footbridge, and a lookout tower are fun favorites among their kids. Mostly shaded by Live Oak trees and Spanish moss, the web of mighty branches of these meandering trees gives kids a wonderful place to walk, crawl, and climb on. A sand floor provides a natural cushion for kids at play.
Families can catch a live performance by singer-songwriter Gregg Russell under the Liberty Oak tree. He has been entertaining here for more than 30 years. His performances are complimentary.
Into the Woods
In the pristine natural beauty of its protected landscapes, take a walk through Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Gaze across salt marshes, pass over rice fields, and spot wildlife on wetlands and lakes. Be sure to take the Shell Ring Trail to see a 4,000-year-old shell ring. This vast mound of broken shells is evidence of the area’s earliest inhabitants, and is listed on the National register of historic places. You can meander through this forest preserve on horseback, if you prefer. However you decide to explore this preserved land, it will be a peaceful experience, giving you a break from the sun underneath the canopy of Spanish moss covered trees.
Take advantage of the abundant water activities the island offers, from paddle boarding to kayaking to charter fishing excursions and sunset cruises. Jump on a wave runner to discover the coastline, or board a passenger boat to go on a dolphin tour.
Kayaking around the waterways is a great way to see the quieter side of Hilton Head Island. Along these scenic routes, you can enjoy the rich coastal environment seeing several species of birds, jumping fish, and even the occasional alligator lounging on the shore. It’s an up-close experience while getting in a good workout.
If it’s an at sea adventure your kids are looking for, they can join a band of pirates in search of treasure. Designed for kids 10 and under, the Pirates of Hilton Head cruise lets you jump into the fun by battling pirates with water cannons to protect the booty. At the end of their adventure, kids join the crew singing and dancing to celebrate the victory.
Never heard of Pickleball, you are not alone, but it’s the fastest growing sport in the USA. This sport combines the elements of tennis, badminton, and Ping-Pong and is played on a court about a quarter size of a regular tennis court. Pickleball makes it easy for a family to play together and requires much less running due to the smaller court size.
Just so you know, the ball used in this sport doesn’t react the same way as a regular tennis ball. Even though it doesn’t have quite the bounce of tennis, it’s still a good workout on a smaller court. Head over to Palmetto Dunes Resort to give this sport a whirl.
Where to Stay
Spanning across a third of Hilton Head Island, Sea Pines Resort is a 5,000-acre community offering a variety of luxury accommodations, world-class golf and tennis, gourmet restaurants, and boutique shops. On this bustling resort, you can find the iconic candy-striped lighthouse overlooking a marina filled with restaurants and shops. The famous Salty Dog Café is located in the South Beach Marina village within the resort.
Three years ago, Westin Hilton Head Island Resort went through renovations to the tune of $30 million. All the guestrooms have been updated with new bathrooms and furnishings. This freshly updated resort features three pools and a hot tub on a beautifully landscaped oceanfront deck with restaurants and bars.
On a quieter side of the island, The Palmetto Dunes Resort is located on beachfront property where guests can stay at condos and vacation homes. Visitors can enjoy their fabulous amenities of golf, tennis, a marina, numerous restaurants and shops.
Places to Dine
Finding a good restaurant on this island can be a challenging task, because there are many great ones. Most island restaurants feature locally caught fish. A Lowcountry Backyard is popular with locals and visitors alike, go early to help reduce your wait time. As the name of the restaurant indicates, it’s a casual, easy-going atmosphere quickly felt throughout this establishment and with all the staff. At the base of the lighthouse in Harbour Town, The Quarterdeck restaurant is in an ideal spot. Here you can sit back and watch the yachts going out to sea or coming back to port while you dine. The wildly popular Salty Dog Café is not only a restaurant but has become a destination. On the South Beach Marina village in Sea Pines Resort, the Salty Dog brand has expanded into six eating establishments featuring plenty of waterfront seating plus shops to purchase their famous t-shirts.
There are so many wonderful activities on this ideal beach destination, your family can fill their day with as much or as little as you want, to suit your family’s desires. You can stay up all night, or rest up to be ready to experience another fabulous day on this beautiful island. Hilton Head Island is the perfect backdrop to create memories to be cherished long after your return home.
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