10 Common Mistakes Visitors Make When Visiting Hilton Head Island

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Forgetting to Bring a Rain Jacket or Umbrella

This can be an easy mistake to avoid! Even if you’re looking at the following week’s forecast that shows nothing but sunshine, the Lowcountry is known to have a few surprises up its sleeve. Trust us, the easiest thing you can do is to add some rain gear to the packing list.


The island life is a simple life, so don’t worry about bringing too much to lug around through the airport. Other than random rain showers and thunderstorms as covered previously, temperatures will rarely vary during your time here. For example, if you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll only need anything heavier than a t-shirt at dinner or in your hotel room if the AC is blasting. By all means, come prepared, but don’t bring your whole closet when you don’t have to! You’ll want to save room for any souvenirs you find on your travels.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Not Making Dinner Reservations

There is nothing worse than finding out there’s a two-hour wait to your favorite restaurant (or any restaurant—which can be the case in the thick of summer on the island) after a long day in the sun with a growling stomach. We’re not saying you have to completely plan out your trip in advance, but we do recommend having at least some reservations on deck to help keep from being disappointed and dare we say, hangry!

Waiting to Rent Bikes Until the Last Minute

Biking is the best way to see the island. Many bike rental companies have different sizes and attachments so that even the youngest in your group can join in on the fun. Sometimes, those smaller bikes and attachments can be the hardest to find in any season. In spring and summer, even adult bicycles can be sold out during your stay. Do not wait to make reservations. If you don’t know what size bike or what kind of attachment you’ll end up needing, call the bike shop and tell them more about your group so they can recommend the right rental equipment for you. This is your sign to make reservations if you haven’t already!

Photo by Wheelz of Hilton Head

Not Preparing for a Long Beach Day

Even the most seasoned beachgoers always seem to forget at least something for their day at the beach. Especially for those of you who are planning on staying out in the sun all day, make sure you’ve remembered to pack enough water to keep your group hydrated, as well as sunscreen and others forms of sun protection like sunglasses, hats, umbrellas, or even a tent. Getting a wicked sunburn on your first day of vacation is definitely not fun, and heat stroke is no joke.

Photo by Derek Thomson

Not Brushing Up on Beach Safety

Along those lines of ensuring everyone stays hydrated and lathered in sunscreen, your group should brush up on the basics of beach safety. Especially with younger children, making sure everyone in the group stays as safe as possible can prevent accidents that’ll cut your day in the sun short. Things like staying within a set distance while playing in the sand and waves, wearing water shoes, and even knowing what to do when someone gets a jellyfish sting can make a big difference. For more beach safety tips, click here.

Getting a Late Start to Your Beach Day

Some people love watching the sunrise over the water. If that’s you, chances are, you can skip this section. As amazing as it is to be able to sleep in—you’re on vacation after all—you might have a harder time finding beach parking if you roll up to the beach after noon. No car? Parking becomes less of a problem, but finding the perfect spot to set up shop on the crowded beaches will also be a challenge. This is only really an issue on Hilton Head during spring and summer. Go ahead and sleep in, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Only Visiting the Beach

This one might sound a bit funny, but it’s true! Hilton Head Island, and the surrounding Lowcountry, have so much to offer. We totally get it; the beaches are some of the best in the country and we don’t blame you for only wanting to sit out and soak up the sun. If playing in the water is what you’re after, try a paddle board tour or rent a jet ski! Spend a morning or afternoon exploring the beautiful Coastal Discovery Museum or take a day trip to historic Beaufort, Savannah, or Daufuskie Island!

Photo of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort, SC

Not Taking Hurricane Season Seriously

Meaning, always have a backup plan. If your trip is booked anytime from June 1 through November 30th, make sure to read up on all of the cancelation or rebooking policies your airline, hotel, or any rental companies may have. The best way to combat the rare chance that a tropical storm will commandeer your trip, purchase travel insurance.

If you think you’ll have time to still go on your trip or even stay to enjoy as much of your trip as possible—know that the longer you stay on the island, the busier the roads will be when a possible evacuation starts and there will be more chances that your flights or other potential flights you’d normally be able to take, will be canceled. Your personal safety is better than any dream vacation you can ever plan.

Forgetting to Take Group Pictures

On a lighter note, don’t forget to take pictures! It’s easy to live completely in the moment and forget to capture important memories. What you’ll be looking for years from now will not be one hundred snapshots of the beautiful island sunset, but photos of your group. That random person walking by would probably love to take that picture of you, by the way. Don’t be scared to ask!

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