Hilton Head Island is a thriving, bustling vacation destination, with pleasant year round climate, gorgeous white sand beaches and an immense array of resort amenities. This small island is home to great restaurants and plenty of cultural attractions, but it shines as a golfer’s paradise, with a wide selection of world-class courses. There are heaps of opportunities for outdoor adventure, both on land and at sea. Off the island, Savannah, GA, is only a 40-minute drive south, opening up a whole world of sightseeing, celebrity restaurants, and other urban attractions. It is not surprising that it has evolved into an immensely popular family vacation destination.
Of course, hidden behind the glitzy resorts lies both a wilder natural world and a crueller, more complex history. The island’s nature can be explored firsthand on foot, bike, horseback and boat, while the Coastal Discovery Museum educates visitors on local flora and fauna. Meanwhile, Hilton Head’s plantation history is confronted at The Gullah Museum, which showcases the culture created by descendants of enslaved Africans, a culture that is celebrated at the annual Gullah Festival.
Photo by g2pix/Flickr.
Photo by VLBPhotography/Flickr.
For all the island’s culture, fine dining and resort-style amenities, the heart of a vacation to Hilton Head is still the beach. Despite so many stretches of white sand to choose between, Coligny Beach Park is a local favorite place to pass an afternoon. Tiled paths wind through a lovely flower-strewn park down to the seafront. There are showers, changing rooms, and wooden swings with views over the ocean. Crucially, there’s also a great ice cream parlor on Coligny Plaza.
Golfers make up a sizeable chunk of Hilton Head’s regular visitors: the island has several top-class courses and even hosts PGA Tour events. Among its most well-known courses is Oyster Reef. Designed by leading golf course architect, Rees Jones, it curves through lagoons and lush vegetation, opening out onto great views over the picturesque Port Royal Sound.
This terrific museum covers a diversity of themes but never feels confused or incoherent. Exhibitions located in a Spanish moss draped old plantation home explore the various peoples and cultures that have inhabited Hilton Head. Outside, different signposted walkways consider Hilton Head’s natural world: one focuses on the island’s birdlife, and another looks at the molluscs living in the surrounding marshland. And there’s even an informative butterfly enclosure.
Seafood is of course a must-eat on Hilton Head, and the contemporary elegance of Red Fish restaurant offers a great place to try it. But Red Fish is not solely a seafood specialist - it also makes excellent use of local farm produce to create an eclectic array of well-conceived dishes. Accompanying their delectable delights, Red Fish also features a superb wine list, with something to suit every item on the varied menu.
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The gated community of the Sea Pines resort is the oldest of the Hilton Head resorts, and remains the most spectacular. Situated along the island’s seafront, it boasts world-class golf and tennis facilities, gourmet restaurants, shopping districts, and luxurious accommodation, all backdropped by magnificent views of Atlantic Ocean.