Coastal Getaway: Hilton Head Island, SC

Hilton Head Island is a large barrier island along the Atlantic in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. It is known for its beautiful coastal scenery, beaches, world-class golf courses, tennis facilities, seafood and Southern flavors, well-maintained bike paths, and luxurious resorts. 

The best time to visit Hilton Head Island is spring, summer, and fall when the weather is beach-friendly. Summer is typically the hottest and most crowded, while the spring and fall shoulder seasons bring fewer crowds and lower hotel rates. Some say that October is the best time to visit.

Hilton Head Island is a laid-back southern beach vacation perfect for families, groups of friends, and couples looking for a romantic getaway.

Hilton Head Island Hotels and Resorts

Hilton Head Island, SC - Palmera Inn & Suites:
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

Hilton Head Island hotels range from high-end luxury resorts with golf courses to budget-friendly options with plenty of amenities for a great vacation. Here are just a few hotel options in Hilton Head.

  • The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa: A gorgeous beachfront resort offering modern oceanview rooms and suites steps away from the ocean. Amenities include on-site restaurants, three outdoor pools, a spa, and beach access. 
  • The Sea Pines Resort: A luxury resort offering villas, vacation homes, and a hotel. Vacationers can access three championship golf courses, the Sea Pines Racquet Club, pools, and on-site restaurants. 
  • Palmera Inn & Suites: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, this hotel provides a great experience. Spacious rooms with balconies, a large outdoor pool, bagged breakfast to go, and it’s only a seven-minute drive to the beach.

Popular Hilton Head Island Restaurants

Hilton Head Island, SC - The Crazy Crab
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There is no shortage of great restaurants on Hilton Head Island. From fresh seafood and southern fare to chef-inspired plates, a Hilton Head culinary adventure awaits!

  • Skull Creek Boathouse: A waterfront dining experience offering a glass-walled dining area or large outdoor patio with music and incredible sunset views. A very large menu of fresh seafood items and an in-house sushi bar.
  • Skull Creek Dockside: Next door to the Skull Creek Boathouse, another great waterfront restaurant offering seafood, BBQ, prime steaks, and a great wine menu.
  • Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks: An old oyster factory turned restaurant, Hudson’s is one of the oldest seafood restaurants in Hilton Head. While you can sit indoors, the best experience is dining on the docks while watching a beautiful sunset.
  • The Crazy Crab: With two locations in Hilton Head, this restaurant is an excellent option for families, offering seafood, steak, chicken, a kid’s menu, and a fun atmosphere.

Things to Do in Hilton Head, SC

Hliton Head Island, SC - Harbour Town
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Hilton Head Island is a treasure trove of activities catering to many interests and ages. Vacationers can enjoy world-class golf courses, relax on beaches, or explore the island’s natural beauty by bike. Additionally, the island offers a delicious culinary scene, shopping experiences, and a rich cultural heritage.

Coligny Beach Park

Hilton Head Island, SC - Coligny Beach Park
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Coligny Beach Park is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The park features a variety of amenities, including outdoor showers and public restrooms. Its proximity to nearby shops and restaurants makes it a great place to spend the afternoon or an entire day!

Harbour Town & Lighthouse

Hilton Head Island, SC - Harbour Town Lighthouse
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Harbour Town is a charming and vibrant area known for its distinctive red-and-white striped lighthouse, a must-visit landmark offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. This beautiful marina has ice cream shops, souvenir stops, restaurants, and gorgeous views. Vacationers often enjoy leisurely strolls along the waterfront, where they can soak in the serene atmosphere and watch the boats gently bobbing in the harbor.

Golf Courses

Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise, with over 20 championship golf courses against stunning coastal scenery. These courses are designed by some of the most renowned architects in the game, such as Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Sr., offering a variety of challenging layouts that cater to players of all skill levels.

The island’s golf courses are known for their meticulously maintained greens, scenic fairways lined with majestic live oaks and native palmettos, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and coastal marshes.

Hosting prestigious tournaments, including the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage, Hilton Head’s golf courses provide exceptional play and contribute significantly to the island’s reputation as a top golf destination.

Coastal Discovery Museum

Hilton Head Island, SC - Coastal Discovery Museum
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Visiting the Coastal Discovery Museum offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich natural history and cultural heritage of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The museum, set on a beautiful nature preserve, provides guided tours, walking trails, a butterfly garden, and other interesting exhibits. It’s a perfect place for families and nature enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the beauty and biodiversity of Hilton Head Island.

Explore the Island by Bike

Hilton Head Island, SC by Bike
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Hilton Head Island’s extensive network of bike paths offers a great way to explore the island and its attractions. These well-maintained paths wind through landscapes, beaches, and charming neighborhoods, providing a scenic route for cyclists of all ages. The bike paths provide a unique perspective of Hilton Head’s natural beauty and promote a green and active way to experience the island’s charm.

  • Hilton Head Outfitters & Bike Rentals
  • Cross Island Bike Rental
  • Hilton Head Bicycle Company
  • Sharky’s Bike Rentals & Surf Shop
  • Island Life Bike Rentals & Dolphin Tours

Day Trips from Hilton Head Island

Savannah, GA
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Take a short ferry ride from Hilton Head Island to the tranquil Daufuskie Island, a place steeped in natural beauty and cultural history, or drive to the charming town of Bluffton, just 20 minutes away, known for its art galleries, historic homes, and Southern cuisine. Alternatively, an hour’s drive will bring you to Savannah, GA, where you can immerse yourself in its rich history, stunning architecture, and picturesque streets.

Daufuskie Island, SC

A day trip from Hilton Head Island to Daufuskie Island is an adventure into a more secluded and historically rich part of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

The journey to Daufuskie is an adventure, typically involving a short but scenic ferry ride from Hilton Head of Bluffton, offering a chance to soak in the stunning coastal views and maybe even spot some local wildlife like dolphins.

Once on Daufuskie Island, vacationers are transported into a world seemingly untouched by time, with no bridges connecting it to the mainland and limited motor vehicle use. The island is known for its rustic charm, with dirt roads and ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss.

Activities include exploring the island’s unique Gullah heritage through guided tours, visiting artisan studios like Daufuskie Island Rum Company, and relaxing on serene beaches. The island’s rich history can be delved into at sites like the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation, while the unspoiled natural environment offers peaceful hiking and bird-watching opportunities.

Bluffton, SC

Bluffton, SC
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A day trip from Hilton Head Island to Bluffton, SC, offers a delightful blend of Southern charm and coastal scenery, all within a short 20 to 30-minute drive. Bluffton, located along the banks of the May River, exudes a quaint, small-town atmosphere, inviting vacationers to explore its historic district lined with antebellum homes, art galleries, eateries, and unique shops.

The town is known for its arts scene, with numerous galleries showcasing local artists and the Bluffton Oyster Company, where you can experience the area’s seafood heritage. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy kayaking or fishing on the tranquil May River or a beach day at Alljoy Beach or Brighton Beach.

In Bluffton, the Church of the Cross is a significant historical and architectural landmark many stop to visit on their trip. It is located along the May River and across the street from a park.

Bluffton’s weekly farmers’ market is a must-visit for fresh, local produce and artisanal goods. The town also has charming cafes and restaurants, offering a taste of traditional Southern cuisine.

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA
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A day trip from Hilton Head to Savannah, GA, is an excellent opportunity to explore one of the South’s most charming and historic cities, located just about an hour’s drive away.

Savannah, known for its stunning antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and lush, oak-lined parks, offers a rich tapestry of history and culture. Vacationers can stroll through the iconic Historic District, where each square tells its own story, or wander along River Street, lined with quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants.

The city is also famous for its historic homes like the Mercer-Williams House, immortalized in the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Art enthusiasts will enjoy the Telfair Museums, one of the nation’s oldest public art museums. For those interested in the supernatural, Savannah’s reputation as one of America’s most haunted cities gives rise to ghost tours, providing a spine-tingling way to learn about the city’s history.

Culinary offerings range from traditional Southern fare to contemporary cuisine, ensuring that food lovers have plenty to savor.

Your Hilton Head Island Vacation

Hilton Head Island, SC
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

Hilton Head Island is not only a destination rich in its own right, with beaches, world-class golf courses, and a wonderful culinary scene, but also a gateway to exploring the broader charm of the Lowcountry. The accessibility of nearby destinations like the serene Daufuskie Island, the quaint town of Bluffton, and the historic city of Savannah, GA, adds depth and variety to any visit.

Featured Photo Credit: sepavone/DepositPhotos

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, and news. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help you find the perfect vacation destination.