The intriguing Sea Islands, separated from the mainland by expanses of estuaries and salt marshes, make up more than half of South Carolina’s coastline. Among these islands lies tasteful, low-key Hilton Head, offering glorious white sand beaches and superb golf courses. Biking, tennis, fishing, and sailing are popular as well
Hilton Head Island is located at the extreme southern tip of South Carolina, about 30 miles north of Savannah and 100 miles south of Charleston. At seven miles in width and fourteen miles in length, it is the second largest Atlantic coast barrier island. A toll expressway expedites traffic from the mainland to the island’s resort areas.
This semitropical barrier island resembles an artistic masterpiece with its oak and pine woodlands and meandering lagoons. It is part of the Low Country, the picturesque region of flat plains and tidal salt marshes that stretches across the eastern expanse of South Carolina and Georgia. Hilton Head Island is almost bisected by Broad Creek, which is navigable for most of its length and is home to several upscale marinas.
Hilton Head is shaped roughly like a tennis shoe, with the ”toe” known as the south end, the ”ball” of the foot as Forest Beach, and the ”top” as the north end. There is no ”downtown” on Hilton Head. Shopping and other activities are spread throughout, although more heavily concentrated on the south end of the island. Located in the heart of Hilton Head Island, the Self Family Arts Center is a remarkable showcase for the visual and performing arts.
Hilton Head Island is separated from the mainland by the Calibogue sound and the Intracoastal Waterway. Between Hilton Head and the mainland are two other islands. Daufuskie Island is accessible only by water. Part of this island remains in its natural state as a large wildlife preserve; and part has been developed to a limited extent for tourism.
Pinckney Island is accessible from the bridge linking Hilton Head to the mainland, and is a National Wildlife Refuge popular among bird watchers. At the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, freed slaves first found schooling. Neighboring Edisto Island remains low-key, scenic, and a relaxing place to visit.
Hilton Head Island has 8 marinas, more than twenty- five golf courses, 300 tennis courts and miles of bicycle and walking paths. The island also features two stables and ample areas for horseback riding, including forest preserve and waterfront. Fishing, parasailing, skiing, horseback riding, miniature golf and, of course, dolphin watching and beach walking are also popular with vacationers and residents alike. There are over two hundred restaurants, eight art galleries, three movie theaters and many shops, boutiques, and outlets.
Hilton Head welcomes families with children. There are no “arcades” or amusement parks, but there is a wealth of outdoor activity, in an ideal climate, for family members to enjoy together. Whether you explore the woods and beaches on horse back, take a dolphin-watching cruise, fish, sail, cycle or relax in the peaceful surroundings, there are always just enough things to do every day on this lovely island. Visit South Carolina’s Treasured Coast for the vacation of a lifetime.