A lighthouse is a tall structure topped by a powerful light used as a beacon or signal to aid marine navigation or a tower with a light that gives warning of shoals to passing ships. The facsimile lighthouse structure at Harbor Town marina is no more a lighthouse than are the golden arches at McDonalds.
There are no shoals to be warned about. The Coast Guard doesn't’maintain it and officially it’s not a lighthouse at all although it does have a beacon inside. It does guide boats in from the waterway on the mainland side of the island but the intentions of this lighthouse are to create an aid to commerce rather than an aid to navigation. It’s basically a tourist attraction that works as a three dimensional sign and symbol in the shape of a lighthouse promoting Hilton Head.
Other businesses are not allowed to have large promotional signs.
At the top is a souvenier shop.
Unique Suggestions: The lighthouse and the whole gated community concept was the brainchild of Charles Fraser. (photos 3 and 4). Just take the museum tour and don't give too much money to the Harbor Town marina for their funny shaped souvenier stand.
Fun Alternatives: There is a real lighthouse on Hilton Head (in the middle of a gated community of Palmetto Dunes on the Arthur Hill Golf Course) and it is possible to see it (from the ground) by applying for a pass for Palmetto Dunes.. You don't have to pay to get into Palmetto Dunes and you don't even have to get out of your car - the security person has a drive-up window.
So far, we've been in Hilton Head for 5 hours (we are planning to stay for three days) and we've been pressured three times by timeshare sales people. They are all over the island. They are in fake tourist information centers, restaurants, low-end hotels, everywhere but the shore of the beach. I am here with my husband and two small children and just want to relax on the beach and maybe visit some of the nature preserves, yet we are constantly being approached by these pushy people asking, "do you want free stuff?" By the third time I figured out that the free stuff had a price and it would be a hour and a half long pressure sales pitch to buy a timeshare in Hilton Head's newest gated community. For us, the free boat rides, put-put golf and dinner cruise is not worth my time. Beware - these people are everywhere and aggressive.
Unique Suggestions: I'm not sure how to avoid them without avoiding Hilton Head Island completely. Actually, that's not a bad idea.