I love the beaches here! They are wide, clean, and so natural compared to many that our family has been to. The waves are perfect for the kids - not rough like many that we've visited. At times they are almost lake like. There are miles of bike paths so you are going to want to arrange to have a bike ahead of time. Also, if you are coming with kids, call in advance for a sitter. We called a number of services and used Hilton Head Nannies. (hotel had several listed and this is the one we felt comfortable with). Loved the girl so much we asked for her again!
While you are here you have to eat at Truffles in Sea Pines. Save room for desert. It's worth it. There is also an entertainer for the kids in Harbour Town every night in the summer they said. Sorry we missed him. We'll be back later in June and we can't wait! We are doing a dolphin cruise then.
Fondest memory: Honestly, we have many. My favorite was the date night with my husband. If you are married with small children you know what its like to not have a date in a while. We arranged a hotel room in the same hotel, ordered room service, and snuck away for 6 hours of alone time. It was very much needed. We also very much enjoyed taking the children to the beach and exploring the nature on the island. It's beautiful here.
Favorite thing: Enjoyed the beach didn't know what these creatures were, washed up on the shore. As we touched to investigate these inhabitants, someone let us know not to touch the lifeless lives as they may sting you. They were jellyfish and they do not look like the ones spongebob loving fish for, in real life they look icky :). We also enjoyed bike riding, the only problem with that is we rented bikes from" Bubba's Bikes" bad experience. Some one came and took our bikes after we paid to rent them, we called them to let them know what happened we realized they took the bikes back, and if we had a problem with that they were going to suggest we stole the bikes. We called the police which were very nice and sympathetic to our misfortunate situation. The Lord once again showed his righteousness, allowed the law to handle the situation. Everything worked out in our favor and we were reimbursed with extra bike rental days. This occured last May 2009, we are packing up for another May getaway to Hilton Head. No Bubba's allowed.
Hilton Head is all about Nature, but it is Nature groomed so that it looks pretty and doesn't interfer with the main playground - kind of like Disney for Golfers. It is a pretty island and has nice beaches, but it also has an attitude about it which is really irritating. My sister won't visit here because of the "Plantations", and while I think she's being too PC about it, I find the gated community concept terribly elitist, and hate the idea of covenants. It is arrogant to charge for admission to a place where the main goal is to induce you to spend your money for their additional profit. At the very least the sign and light restrictions are dangerous at night.
Fondest memory: Seeing the birds outside the elevator of our condo and realizing that there was a birds nest on the top of the REAL lighthouse of Hilton Head. We did enjoy walking the self guiding trail next to the museum also.
People who own property on Hilton Head are not allowed to:
a) Park a pick-up truck on the island at their house
b) Have a garden in their yard
c) Paint the house except in a few mandated colors so as not to spook the deer or something. No red roofs allowed, even on the Red Roof Inn
d) Dry laundry outside.
The Hilton Head website remarks:
"All business’ signs are the same colors. Soft shades of tan, green, rose, and dusky blue are mostly the only colors allowed because Hilton Head prefers everything to blend into the environment instead of looking over-developed.
Personally I'd like to be able to find a restaurant or gas station without using binoculars.
Another problem with Hilton Head:
" There are more than 10 gated communities on Hilton Head Island, a handful more past the bridge to the mainland, and plenty of ungated neighborhoods scattered in between. A Hilton Head Island gated community is locally referred to as a plantation. Shipyard Plantation, Palmetto Hall Plantation Club, Wexford Plantation, Port Royal Plantation, and Hilton Head Plantation are some examples.
I'm not at all happy with the idea of gated communities. For instance to see Fort Mitchel, you have to get through community gate. To eat at a restaurant that is in one of the communities you have to go through a gate, and at least ONE gated community has a toll charge for all the cars that go through the gate.
The beach is outstanding - nice and wide, firmly packed sand easy to walk on, and crowded only in certain areas
Fondest memory: When I cross the bridges to the Island and look out across the water I feel an immediate sense of relaxation. There is much to do, yet nothing has to be done. The Islanders are friendly, Southern and polite and for the most part are unhurried and laid back.
I am surprised by the number of restaurants, including dozens of fine dining locations, and the quality and quantity of golf courses. As a nature lover, I never tire of watcing the Dolphins play in the ocean and the Osprey zooming down for their lunch (the alligators are interesting as well).
I would mostly suggest this trip to an avid golfer. As I said before I was pretty much still a kid when I was there, so other than the beach and the beachside bar (I had just turned 21), there wasn't much else to do, other than mini golf (as I'm not a regular golfer). My aunt and uncle have briefed us on the golfing as my uncle is an avid golfer.
Fondest memory: I loved the beach and the beachside bar. We stayed at a family friend's time share condominium as a favor owed to my dad.
No digital photos to share.
Traffic can be a real challenge on the island, From April to August the main roads are very busy. Your best bet is to walk or rent a bicycle. If you are planning on doing some shopping or sight seeing in Bluffton plan on an hours wait at peak traffic hours
Another thing to be aware of is the heavy amount of pollen in the air. You will notice durring spring and summer a fine greenish yellow powder covering everything, this is pollen. If you have allergies make sure you bring appropriate medicines and use precautions.
For more information about Hilton Head,
Favorite thing: The heat and humidity often can bring a thunderstorm a day. Usually in the afternoon. They normally don't last long, and you'll be back to your sunbathing in no time, but take this time to relax, and listen to the rain and thunder. Sometimes at night, you can catch lightning out over the ocean, too. :-)
Located in Sea Pines Plantation is the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. If walking around wooded areas, lagoons, ponds, bird watching, etc. is your thing you might enjoy this. You can walk through this from Greenwood drive entrance, which has maps of the area at the entrance or drive back to the preserve from an entrance located on Lawton Road, by the Hilton Head Prep School. Admission to Sea Pines Plantaion is $5.00.
Lawton Stables also offers guided tours on horse back. I believe $20 to $30 last I checked. I would suggest doing the horse ride during the cooler times of the year though. Not my kind of thing, but kids usually seem to have a nice time on horse back :)
Insect wise March or april are usually rough and so is the early fall. Personally the sand gnats are my biggest complaint, mosquito's second. "Off" for the Mosquito's and for the gnats, lol good luck ;)
As for the many Alligators you will see, please trust me when I say Alligators can move faster than you can. I've seen gators move, up close, their lazy appearance is deceiving. Treat them with respect, take pics from a distance and keep your kids and pets close to your side. Never get in between a wandering alligator and a water source. And please do not feed them.
When walking through the Forest Preserve you may run into a snake, most likely non-poisonous, but same guideline, respect.
The preserve can be a nice place if that's your type of thing, Picnic Area, Horse Back rides, even an alligator tour (although you can get the same results just looking on your own). Have fun
The surrounding areas of Hilton Head have really been developing for the past decade. I remember in '91 I could make a trip from Hilton Head to Beaufort SC with little worries, unfortunately it's not the case now.
If you're doing any traveling to the near-by areas (Beaufort, Savannah, Charleston, etc.) avoid going off island (HWY 278) 4 to 6PM M-F. Traffic can really get congested, especially on a Friday during the summer. And if it's raining I guarantee a fender bender will delay you along the way. The morning hours 8 to 10AM coming on island can get congested in the Bluffton Area.
Travel between North to South end can be shortened by using the 278 By-pass, costing $1.00. You can get to the same place by staying on 278 business, just more stop lights and traffic.
Going to Sea Pines? If the Main Gate entrance at the end of 278 is backed up, go down Pope Avenue towards the beach. Head down to Coligny Circle and take the exit infront of the Holiday Inn. Leads you to the back (ocean) gate of Sea Pines. You can get your pass there ($5) and enter the plantation.
Be mindful of bikers, especially on the south end and within any plantation. Lots of families with kids roaming about in spring/summer. It's not uncommon for them to not see/notice the biker stop signs on the bike paths, so driving with them in mind is much appreciated.
I love the beaches in Hilton Head. We stayed in the Forest Beah area and our house was less than 20 ft from the beach. What I liked was that the sand was pretty solid and it wasn't difficult to walk around.
Fondest memory: Waking up early in the morning and takin a walk and feeling the morning breeze. I met up with a lot of old friends and it was cool chatting and catching up while walking on the beach.
Favorite thing: People on Hilton Head Island are mostly visitors from out of town. The island is crowded with people from every state in the summertime, but in the winter time, they're gone. I'm sure at least 50% of the people on the island in the summertime are not from here at all.
Favorite thing: There is an internet cafe' on the island, found this one on 278 in a large shopping center near KFC. Not sure want the cost is so check around. Wish I knew this was here earlier, would have used it myself.
Favorite thing: All of the beach is public but there are only 4 public beach access points, all the rest are private. Alder lane, Coligny Circle Beach, Driessen Beach Park and Folly Field. At these access points you will find, parking, lifeguards on duty, restrooms & showers, beach equipment rentals. The rules are posted. Metered parking and reserved for annual beach passes. Call 341-4630 for more information
Favorite thing: Before you can get onto Harbour Town you need to stop and pay a $5.00 toll. It is well worth the price to see all the beauty in this town. There is much to see beyond this point so get your pass and follow the road to Harbour Town.