When my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a few days, it was a no brainer to say yes. Hilton Head Island sounded like the perfect place to spend three days after a long cold winter. For someone like me, a girl who grew up on a tropical island and has always been surrounded by water, living inland for the last year has made me crave the ocean.
So when my husband treated me and our son to three days on Hilton Head Island in a two bedroom condo at the start of the summer season, I was more than ready for a few days of sun and relaxation.
Hilton Head is not like most islands, well— not the kind of island I am used to—in fact, I had no idea it was an island until we started mapping out our drive. So as we drove over the bridge and turned through the first roundabout toward our resort, I was taken in by all the trees and the lushness of the island. Not tropical lushness, like palm and coconut trees, but grand live oaks covered in Spanish moss that lazily arched over the streets. Everything was green and lovely, the air was cool, and when I saw families idly riding bikes down tree lined paths, the sun streaming though the leaves, the ocean breeze gently pushing them along, I felt a lot of stress and anxiety leave my body.
Three days went by in a flash, and while we didn’t do a whole lot except sit by the pool, hang out on the beach, and drive around the island, we definitely thought it would be a perfect place to spend a longer vacation.
Hilton Head Island is 12 miles long and five miles wide with 60 miles of bicycle pathways. So biking is often the transportation of choice for visitors and island residents. We were gifted with two free beach cruisers with our vacation rental, and we had a good time biking around our plantation and to the beach.
There’s a lot to do on the island— or nothing to do except soak up the sun if that’s what you’d prefer. The temperament of the island is laid back and friendly, we found good service wherever we went, and enjoyed our short time there.
The island is separated into gated communities or “Plantations,” and each has it’s own beach access, bike paths, and lakes. We stayed in Shipyard Plantation, and enjoyed a small pool shared with a handful of early summer visitors, as well as a very convenient beach path.
While Hilton Head seems geared toward families, it was also pretty romantic sitting on our deck in the evening with a glass of wine and listening to the frogs sing. My husband and I spent a lot of time walking around holding hands and making our 13-year-old son gag, but for a family vacation it was pretty great.
And did I say relaxing?
We spent a day at the beach and brought our own chairs to relax in the sun. It was pretty windy on our beach day, but the water was refreshing and it was beyond beautiful to look at and relax. We got some great sun and the water was cold, (well, we are from Hawaiʻi— we’re used to our oceans being warm) but there was enough sun to make it worth while. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, but the sand is nice enough that a towel will do just fine.
One day we headed over to Sea Pines Plantation and paid $6 to visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum and to do a little shopping. If you are not living or staying in a certain plantation, you either cannot access the area or you have to pay a fee. Within Sea Pines Plantation you can ride their trolley if you want to park your car for the day. We decided to save time and drive, and so we wandered around Sea Pines visiting the Harbour Town Yacht Basin, and walked out to the pier, where we bought Hilton Head souvenirs.
Along the pier were fishing boats that you could rent for the day, and along the shore were rows of kayaks and canoes for the outdoorsy types. We also saw signs for ZipLine and Aerial Adventure Hilton Head, bike tours, and day cruises.
We also headed over to South Beach Marina Village for ice cream, and then just contented ourselves with driving along the tree lined streets looking at the beautiful homes of the island residents and enjoying a sunny breezy day.
If my husband and I golfed, we would have been in heaven. The courses were as beautiful as the beaches were, and many friends encouraged me to “play the links.” Golfing seems like a religion on Hilton Head, and while we didn’t partake, we did enjoy seeing all of the green fairways and spectacular water features.
We didn’t eat out a lot, though Hilton Head is known for their restaurants and even offer a “Savor the Lowcountry” food tour, where you can meet chefs and restauranteurs around the island. We cooked often in our condo, and ate by the pool on a few occasions. Some of you may not think cooking is “relaxing,” but my husband loved it and there was a convenient grocery store two minutes away from our condo.
Hilton Head has everything you want in a vacation getaway. Especially if you want to relax and enjoy the ocean and an abundance of natural beauty. Once you cross the bridge onto the island, you may never want to drive back.