Hilton Head Island – situated in the low country region of South Carolina- has been drawing visitors from all around the country for many years. The barrier island is located ninety miles south of the city of Charleston and is renowned for its relaxed lifestyle, beautiful weather, rich history, fresh sustainable cuisine, 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach, and more than 60 miles worth of leisure pathways for you to explore. It is the ideal island escape for anybody needing a vacation.
When it comes to American vacation destinations, Hilton Head is unique in that it has broad appeal for multiple generations. You can spend the day riding bikes around the island or one of its many pristine, wide beaches with the entire family and then enjoy coastal cuisine and cocktails at one of the more than 250 restaurants offered by the 12-mile island.
With the travel industry recovering and as we are finally looking for the pandemic to end in the United States, the island is poised to welcome guests back due to the plans that were instituted last summer to protect the health of visitors, the workforce, and the community. Whatever things you like to do while on vacation, there is a good chance you can do it on Hilton Head. Let’s check out how the island has something to offer for every type of traveler.
It is easily accessible
Hilton Head is situated on South Carolina’s southeast coast, around 30 minutes away from Savanna, Georgia. It is also around 45 minutes away from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), served by a majority of the major United States carriers coming from multiple hubs across the country. The island also has its own airport. Over the past year, it has seen a spike in service from the major carriers.
The geography of Hilton Head makes it a very nice place to drive to – particularly for people living in the eastern part of the country. You can easily make the drive in one day from major cities on the East Coast like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York, and of course, much less if you are in one of the Southeast’s major cities like Charlotte or Atlanta.
There are numerous accommodations available
Once you have decided to visit Hilton Head, there are many different accommodation options available that range from luxury resorts to villas and home rentals. The beautiful shoreline of the island can be reached from all touchpoints. On the south part of Hilton Head Island is the Sea Pines Resort next to Harbour Town Yacht Basin and also bordered by Harbour Town Lighthouse and Harbour Town Golf Links.
If you will be traveling with your entire family, you will want to get a vacation home rental booked. There are special deals and rental packages offered on the Hilton Head Island website.
If you prefer a full-service resort, there are more than 20 resorts, inns, and hotels on Hilton Head Island. If you have Marriott Bonvoy points then you will be happy to know that the island has two full-service Marriott properties the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and the Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa.
The Westin resort is a Category 6 property (60,000, 50,000, or 40,000 points awarded per night) and the Marriott is a Category 5 (40,000, 35,000, or 30,000 points awarded per night, depending on what season it is). These properties are both eligible – on nights that have standard or off-peak availability – for certificates of up to 35,000 points for Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card customers and certificates of up to 50,000 points per night for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card customers.
If you are looking for even more luxurious accommodations, Montage Palmetto Bluff is available. It is part of American Express’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program. The property is situated on the May River and just a short drive away from Hilton Head Island.
Hilton Head is a paradise for tennis and golf
Hilton Head Island has 24 golf courses available, so even advanced golfers can find a challenge. Every year, to kick the summer off, the Island hosts the RBC Heritage tournament presented by Boeing. It is the only PGA Tour event played in South Carolina and is takes place at Harbour Town Golf Links on The Sea Pines Resort. Many golfers consider it to be a bucket-list golf course. Along with golf, the island is renowned for being a tennis haven. Hilton Head has over 500 courts, and home to eight of the world’s top 100 tennis resorts, including B.J. Stearns, and the Stan Smith-led Hilton Head Tennis Academy on the Sea Pines Resort.
With over 250 restaurants, farmers markets dozens of bakeries, and other types of shops available, you definitely will not go hungry while visiting Hilton Head. You can enjoy some of the finest traditional Low Country cuisines, including such staples as local oysters, crab cakes, and more featuring cutting-edge, high-end dining, and some of the Southeast’s best sustainably prepared meals. Wash it all down with refreshing oceanside cocktails. Every year there are many culinary events hosted by the island, including the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival, the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival, and oyster roasts that anyone who looks great food will definitely want to experience.
Numerous outdoor activities
As previously mentioned, Hilton Head Island has 12 miles worth of pristine beaches featuring soft sand. They are wide enough for you to have a space of your own and at low tide, you can ride bicycles along the shoreline. Some of the Eastern Seaboard’s warmest water is found here, which makes Hilton Head Island the ideal place for the young at heart and children to swim.
In addition to relaxing at the beach, there are a number of other water activities for you to choose from, including paddle boarding, kayaking, dolphin-watching, and fishing.
On land you can try ziplining, bird-watching, or go the Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge and Audubon-Newhall Preserve to enjoy over 60 miles worth of leisure pathways for running, walking, or biking.
Plenty of family fun
The entire family can enjoy many fun activities together on Hilton Head Island, from riding bikes on one of the numerous leisure pathways or along the beach to dinner and then enjoy a kid-friend concert at Sea Pines in Harbour Town. Grandparents, parents, and children will all love to go on a dolphin-watching boat tour and explore such institutions as the Coastal Discovery Museum, which is a Smithsonian affiliate museum featuring trails, live oak trees with Spanish moss, gardens, a butterfly enclosure, and a marsh house tour. Hilton Head is also home to a dynamic and thriving arts community, with some of South Carolina’s best productions, live music venues, and galleries available all year long.
Surrounded by History
The history of Hilton Head is fascinating. For over 300 years now, the Gullah ancient culture is still a vibrant part of life on Hilton Head Island. Their influence can still be seen now in craft items, African folktales, Afric names, and the Gullah language ( a creole that is similar to Krio in Sierra Leone). A lot of the beloved food culture of the low country also stems from the Gullah – shrimp and gravy, okra gumbo, and rice purlo, all cooked using time-honored African cooking techniques and spices.
Historic Mitchelville, situated on Port Royal Sound of Hilton Head, was the first town self-governed by freed slaves in America. It was established by General Ormsby Mitchel in 1862, a Union forces commander who occupied Hilton Head Island. This town was built for and by those who had been granted their freedom prior to the Emancipation Proclamation as the Port Royal Experiment. Through the Mitchellville Preservation Project and Mitchelville Freedom Park, the Gullah people, who are direct descendants of the town, continue telling their story. The entire family can explore the Gullah people’s history as well as their continued impact on Hilton Head through the Heritage Library, the Gullah Museum, and the Gullah Heritage Trail Tours.
No matter what you think a good vacation entails, it is offered by Hilton Head. The island is easily accessible and has numerous lodging options for all types of travelers and budgets combined with a rich cultural heritage and an abundance of natural beauty. Whether you would just like to get away for a couple of days and enjoy a sunny destination or spend several weeks with your family exploring everything offered by the island and surrounding areas, you cannot go wrong vacationing on Hilton Head Island.