Welcome to Hilton Head, South Carolina, a stunning coastal paradise that beckons travelers from all over the world with its gorgeous nature trails, sparkling white sand beaches, and lush landscapes. Spread out across nearly 70 square miles, the island is a hotspot for travelers looking for both a relaxing and adventurous vacation. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a golf aficionado, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Hilton Head offers an array of attractions and activities that cater to a range of tastes.

Planning a trip to Hilton Head? In this comprehensive visitors’ guide, we’ll delve into where to stay, what to do, and pass along insider tips to ensure you make the most of your stay.

Getting to Hilton Head

To reach Hilton Head, you have several options. If you prefer flying, the closest major airport is Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), located approximately 45 minutes away. Alternatively, you can fly into Charleston International Airport (CHS) and enjoy a scenic two-hour drive to Hilton Head.

If you prefer a road trip, Hilton Head is easily accessible by car. The island is conveniently connected to the mainland via the Cross Island Parkway, and major highways provide direct routes from nearby cities.

Beaches of Hilton Head

A beautiful sunset in Hilton Head Island.

No visit to Hilton Head is complete without spending time on its pristine beaches. With 12 miles of picturesque shoreline, the island boasts several stunning beach areas to explore. Coligny Beach Park is a favorite among both locals and tourists, offering amenities like restrooms, showers, and beach rentals. For a quieter beach experience, visit Mitchelville Beach Park or Burkes Beach.

Exploring Nature and Wildlife

Very close encounter with a juvenile alligator in the marshes of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, Hilton Head.

Hilton Head’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches. The island is home to an abundance of wildlife and nature preserves, providing endless opportunities for exploration. Visit the Sea Pines Forest Preserve to embark on scenic walking trails and spot native wildlife. If you’re a bird enthusiast, don’t miss the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, where you can observe a variety of bird species in their natural habitat.

Golfing in Hilton Head

Golfer hitting out of the rough.

With over 20 world-class golf courses, Hilton Head is a golfer’s paradise. Whether you’re a scratch golfer or a fun-loving newbie, you’ll find courses to suit your skill level. The Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort is a renowned course that hosts the RBC Heritage PGA Tour tournament annually. Other notable courses include the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, and the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes.

Shopping and Dining

Shops along the harbor at Harbour Town, Hilton Head.

Hilton Head boasts a vibrant culinary scene and an array of shopping options. Stroll along Coligny Plaza, a charming outdoor shopping center, where you’ll find a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and specialty stores. For a taste of local flavors, dine at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks or Old Oyster Factory. Indulge in some retail therapy at the Tanger Outlets, where you can find brand-name stores offering discounted prices.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Outdoor bar on the beach.

When the sun goes down, Hilton Head comes alive with an eclectic mix of nightlife and entertainment options. Catch live music performances at popular venues like the Jazz Corner or the rooftop bar at Poseidon. If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at the gaming tables at the Hilton Head Casino Cruise. For a more laid-back evening, enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise along the Calibogue Sound.

Best Places to Stay in Hilton Head

When planning your Hilton Head vacation, choosing the right place to stay is key to ensuring a memorable and comfortable experience. The island offers a variety of neighborhoods and accommodations that cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer oceanfront rentals, beachfront resorts, or a peaceful villa, Hilton Head has something for everyone. Here are some of the most popular neighborhoods and best places to stay on the island:

Sea Pines

Nestled at the southern tip of Hilton Head, Sea Pines is a premier resort community known for its upscale amenities and picturesque surroundings. It’s also hands down the best place to stay on the island. That’s all thanks to this 5,200-acre gated community’s luxurious villas, beachfront homes, and top-notch accommodations. Visitors staying here can enjoy access to world-class golf courses, pristine beaches, and diverse dining options.

Palmetto Dunes

Situated in the heart of Hilton Head, Palmetto Dunes is a bustling community that attracts golfers, beach lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. This neighborhood is renowned for its three championship golf courses, miles of unblemished beachfront, and tranquil lagoons. Accommodation options in Palmetto Dunes range from oceanfront villas to spacious vacation rentals, providing the perfect home base for your island adventure.

Forest Beach

Located on the eastern side of the island, Forest Beach offers a vibrant atmosphere and easy access to Hilton Head’s beautiful beaches. This neighborhood is divided into North Forest Beach and South Forest Beach, both known for their lively entertainment, shopping districts, and a wide range of accommodations. Whether you choose a beachfront condo or a charming vacation home, Forest Beach provides a convenient location with plenty of dining options and recreational activities.

Shipyard Plantation

For those seeking a tranquil and serene setting, Shipyard Plantation is an ideal choice. Nestled between Palmetto Dunes and Forest Beach, this gated community offers a peaceful retreat surrounded by lush landscapes and scenic golf courses. Visitors can choose from various rental options, including villas and vacation homes, and enjoy amenities such as biking trails, tennis courts, and access to the beautiful Shipyard Beach.

Harbour Town

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Hilton Head’s rich history and charm, consider staying in the iconic Harbour Town area. Known for its vibrant marina, boutique shops, and world-class dining, this neighborhood offers a unique blend of luxury and authenticity. Accommodation options in Harbour Town range from upscale hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts, all within walking distance of the marina and the Harbour Town Golf Links.

Folly Field

Situated on the northern end of Hilton Head, Folly Field is a favorite spot for families and beach enthusiasts. With its wide stretch of sandy shoreline and a variety of rental options, this neighborhood offers a laid-back atmosphere and easy access to water activities. Folly Field also boasts numerous parks, playgrounds, and picnic areas, making it a great choice for those traveling with children.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

To help you navigate your visit and make the most of your time on this stunning island, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Whether you’re curious about the best time to visit, transportation options, or must-visit beaches, we’ve got you covered.

What is the best time to visit Hilton Head?

The best time to visit Hilton Head is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) seasons when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller.

What are the must-visit beaches in Hilton Head?

Some must-visit beaches in Hilton Head include Coligny Beach Park, Mitchelville Beach Park, and Burkes Beach.

What are the transportation options in Hilton Head?

Hilton Head provides transportation options including car rentals, bike rentals, taxis, and rideshare services for easy navigation around the island.

Get Ready to Plan Your Hilton Head Vacation

Ready to visit Hilton Head? From its stunning beaches to its world-class golf courses, this southern coastal jewel has something to captivate every visitor. So, pack your bags, embrace the island’s charm, and create lifelong memories in this island paradise.