Located only 20 miles from Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles from Charleston, South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a Lowcountry resort town filled with history, activities, and just about all the seafood you could possibly eat. Named after Captain William Hilton who discovered the headland in 1663, the island didn't become a resort destination until the 1950s when Charles E. Fraser developed the Sea Pines Resort, a 5,200-acre private residential community located at the southern tip of the island. Since then, southerners have flocked to the island to escape the heat, bask in the sun, play golf on some of the world's greatest golf courses and dine on fresh oysters.
How to Get to Hilton Head
While Hilton Head is located on an island, getting there couldn't be easier. There are two airports that serve the island, Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH) and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV). Hilton Head Island Airport receives daily flights from Charlotte, North Carolina as well as various flights from Washington D.C., Chicago, Newark, Atlanta, and New York City.
If you are driving, Hilton Head can be reached from I-95.
Things to Do in Hilton Head
So you've made it onto the island, now what? First things first, check-in to your hotel room. The majority of resorts are right on the water, making it easy to catch a sunrise on one of the beautiful beaches. When I visited Hilton Head in February of 2020 I was invited to stay at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort for a few nights. Right on the beach, the resort features pet-friendly rooms, fun activities like biking, kayaking, and golfing, and outdoor firepits that let you sit under the live oaks and enjoy the evening with a glass of wine.
With over 12 miles of pristine beaches, HHI is all about the surf and sand. Coligny Beach Park, as well as Folly Field Beach, Burkes Beach, and Driessen, are popular public beach spots. Coligny Plaza features a boardwalk as well as amenities.
Hilton Head Island is 100% bike-friendly. Grab a bike and cruise on one of the many public bike trails on the island or take it off-roading and pedal on the sand.
Hop off the island and explore the water around it with a guided tour and dolphin cruise. Live Oac has been hosting boat tours since 1996 and boasts knowledgable guides.
Hilton Head with Children
Visiting with the little ones? The Sandbox Children's Museum is a fun place to explore for a few hours and hosts hands-on exhibits just for the kiddos.
With the whole family in tow make sure to check out the Coastal Discovery Museum. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum explores the salt marshes and outdoor history of the island. Afterward, head over to the Harbour Town Lighthouse and climb 114 steps to the top.
The Hilton Head Seafood Festival
Once a year restaurants and chefs from across the United States travel to Hilton Head to take part in the Hilton Head Seafood Festival hosted by the David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation. The six-day event includes A Pig Pickin' & Oyster Roast, masterclasses from award-winning chefs, excursions throughout the island, and the main event, the Seafood Festival held at Honey Horn Plantation.
Family-friendly, the Hilton Head Seafood Festival features area restaurants and chefs serving up seafood specialties, celebrity chef demonstrations, a 5-story Ferris wheel, a beer garden, an artisan market, and live music. Hudson's Seafood offers a VIP lounge for guests as well.
Taste oysters, shrimp, and fish at the multiple booths located around the festival. Each plate is small, which makes it fun to taste your way across the entire event. Instead of cash, guests use tickets to purchase plates and drinks. According to the event, food can range from 2-5 tickets and wine, beer, and spirits are around 6-8.
Outside of Hilton Head
Step back in history on Daufuskie Island and experience the Gullah culture. Accessible only by boat or ferry, the automobile-free island is home to the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and Sea Island cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast. Today over 400 people live on the island full-time among the Civil War relics.
Whether you like to explore or relax during your vacations, Hilton Head Island has it all.