Hilton Head Island is a popular vacation destination for its sunny beaches and sports activities. There are many natural wonders to explore such as swamps, beaches and forests, as well as one of the iconic tourist attractions in Hilton Head Island the Harbour town lighthouse. Whether it’s a romantic weekend of relaxing and culture or a holiday of exploration and adventure there is plenty to do for everyone.
10. Folly Field Beach Park
A large wide beach with lots of room for friends and family to spread out and enjoy the sea and sand. The relatively quiet beach is clean and inviting and the flat surface make swimming here quite safe. There’s a board walk for ease of access and seasonal lifeguards for visitor’s safety. Facilities including chair rentals, showers and restrooms are also available here. General hours are 6am to 9pm daily with hours changing in the winter months from 6am to 6pm. Located at Starfish Drive, there is metered parking for visitors at reasonable prices.
9. Pickney Island National Wildlife refuge
The refuge consists of salt marsh, forest land, freshwater ponds and brush land providing a habitat for local wildlife. Its aim is to provide a natural refuge to promote conservation. There is no visitor centre here however there are 10 miles of recommended hikes which can take between an hour and a half and over six hours depending on the trail chosen. A great place for wildlife observations, visitors can commonly see waterfowl, raptors, herons and white tailed deer. There are also American alligators, armadillos, bald eagles and salamander which are less easy to spot.
8. Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina
A lovely place to enjoy from day to night. The Marina spans over 15 acres and has slips for 170 boats. During the day the harbour is busy with water sports, excursions and fishing charters, people strolling and glimpsing at the many boats and browsing the many shops. At night the harbour becomes busy in a different way. There are many restaurants to choose from and cool venues that offer live music and a fun time especially at the weekend. It is an easy place to get to and parking here is free.
7. The Village at Wexford
A haven for shoppers, the Village at Wexford boasts over 30 merchants and promises to offer ‘The best of everything and something for everyone’. Another place to enjoy throughout the day with small local shops providing unique shopping options, pampering options and varied dining opportunities. Dog lovers will be happy to know that the village is pet friendly with many stores leaving water bowls and treats for visiting canines. Events such as live music, animal adoptions and food tours happen from time to time so it’s best to check before to find out what is on.
6. Stoney Baynard ruins
The original house was built as part of Braddock’s point plantation in 1793. After being raided during the Civil War it was occupied by the Union forces until it was eventually burned down after the war. Today the six acre Baynard ruins Park are listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Sites. The main house and slave quarters are preserved here and it is easy to visitors to imagine what the house looked like in the past. The ruins are located off Plantation Drive and parking is available upon entrance.
5. Arts Centre of Coastal Carolina
The arts centre focuses on providing entertainment and inspiring interest in visual arts. Musicals, comedies, and dramas are produced here as well as hosting musicians, puppeteers and artists. The theatre seats 349 people at the main stage house and upcoming shows include Mary Poppins, The Mousetrap and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The visual arts gallery consists of art pieces in the Bank of America Room and Walter Greer Gallery. Most exhibits are free to enter. Theatre tickets should be purchased in advance and are available online, prices vary depending on the show.
4. Sea Pines Forest Preserve
This historic preserve was inhabited by Nomadic Indians four thousand years ago, where they gathered shells in the salt marshes. The Sea Pines Indian Shell Ring is a favourite point of interest visited in the forest today. The preserve is also well known for its marshes, swamp and wildlife that calls the area home. The forest can be explored on a board walk through the swamp. From the three observation decks at Old Lawton Rice field visitors can view all the preserve has to offer. There are also guided boat tours, horseback riding and wagon tours on offer.
3. Coastal Discovery Museum
The museum gives a learning experience that is fun for kids and families. There’s a sea shell nature trail that is a mile long starting at the discovery house and passing interactive panels up to the Hilton Head Island Hall of Fame. Discover some of the oldest buildings on the island and the state’s largest Southern Red Cedar tree which is dated at 1595. Tours offered from here include Dolphin watching and Gullah heritage. Opening hours are 9am to 430pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 3pm on Sundays. A $5 entrance fee is a suggested donation and guided tour tickets cost extra.
2. Coligny Beach
This beach is one of the most popular places to visit in Hilton Head Island, this means it can get very crowded. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent and are set up where visitors choose. There is also wi-fi available here so working or searching the web is easy whilst soaking up the sun. Other facilities are showers, bathrooms, changing rooms and water fountains. The close proximity to shops and restaurants means it’s easy to take a break and have some food. Opening hours are 6am to 9pm Monday to Sunday during the warmer months and closes at 6pm during Winter.
1. Harbour Town lighthouse
The best known landmark, the harbour tow lighthouse is popular with tourists and locals alike. Harbour Town Lighthouse is a red and white striped beacon which symbolises the town to people across the world. The lighthouse tour takes visitors up ten levels learning about the history as they climb. The view from the top provides a panoramic picture of the town, sea pines and the ocean. Admission is only $4 per person and children under 5 enter for free. As well as the lighthouse tour there is a unique gift shop where a large collection of lighthouses and other memorabilia to browse.
As the list shows there are plenty of things to do in Hilton Head Island for everyone. With a year round warm climate the beaches and parks can be enjoyed any time but is especially popular in the summer months. Driving or renting a car is a good idea here as public transport is limited and attractions are too far apart for walking or biking. Scenic bus tours are another way to get around and see the sites.