Known for wide-open powdery white beaches, beautiful sunrises, great golf, lush wooded areas, and Southern charm, Hilton Head Island was voted by Travel + Leisure readers as the Best Island in the continental US in 2021. This should come as no surprise since Hilton Head is regularly listed among the best vacation destinations in the world. Hilton Head Island is located just off the coast of South Carolina about 60 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina and just north of Savannah, Georgia – both of these cities are fantastic destinations as well.
Lush, wooded areas and beautiful beaches are key attractions. The island is 12 miles long and 5 miles wide with over 60 miles of bike trails/walkways winding their way through the island. Unfortunately, my visit came during a week with heavy rains and thunderstorms as part of the daily adventure. The following images come from morning strolls along the northeastern side of the island:
Base camp – The Westin Resort – offered some eye-catching views as well.
Beyond the resort, there was an excellent walkway for a morning run. I must admit, it was hard to keep moving with so many natural sights to take in. Below, Spanish moss hangs thick on the oak trees. It is a common sight in coastal areas of South Carolina and throughout the South.
If you get near water anywhere in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, you need to be aware that alligators may be lurking nearby. I actually saw an alligator in the location below when returning from my run. I wasn’t able to get a good shot and, as you might imagine, I wasn’t particularly interested in hanging out in the area for too long.
Another water shot from a safer distance.
A visit to Hilton Head Island, especially if it your first visit, should include a trip to the Harbour Town Lighthouse. It is a magnificent, privately-financed lighthouse which also contains a museum and gift shop. As you climb the 114 steps to the top, you’ll learn about the early agrarian roots of the area, impact of the War Between the States on Hilton Head, the distinct culture of former slaves known as the Gullah people, and the ongoing contributions of Hilton Head citizens in World War I and II.
It was an overcast afternoon, but the view from the top of the lighthouse was well worth the climb and small admission fee. The golf course shown in the second image below is the Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort. The PGA Tour comes to this course right after the Master’s to play the tournament known as the RBC Heritage. I’ve watched this tournament a few times on TV and believe we are looking at 18th hole. It is a great finishing hole and requires the golfer to work the ball in from their right to left with the typical ball flight heading towards the water. This makes for an exciting finish.
Tourism and retail are the primary industries these days with visitors seeking time to relax and unwind. Great food is another star attraction and restaurants are plentiful throughout Hilton Head Island. The island boasts more than 250 locally-owned restaurants that celebrate regional dishes such as oysters, shrimp, and fish along with Gullah rice and gumbo. I haven’t been one to take photos of my food but Oysters Hudson, a local favorite, was an appetizer I had to try. It was a half-dozen select oysters wrapped in bacon and deep fried. I can see why it’s a favorite – delicious!
If you are coming in from another country or regions outside the South, you may find the dialect a bit different than what you are accustomed to hearing. Please keep in mind, as this reminder in a local coffee shop points out, it may be your accent that is the peculiar one.
Sunset on Hilton Head with the promise of a new and vibrant tomorrow.