Have you ever been out on a boat and seen a dolphin come right up to you or another boat and thought: “How cute is he?” Or have you ever walked on the beach, found a sand dollar, and taken it home with you because it would make the perfect seaside addition to the centerpiece on your dining room table? It turns out that these are common Hilton Head Island temptations, but as a mermaid, I have learned to look at these common allurements from a different perspective.
As I continue to spend more and more time in or on the water and on the beaches of Hilton Head, I am lucky enough to observe these animals in their natural environment and learn their behaviors. It is quite often I see dolphins begging boats for food which is not only bad for their health but it also puts them at risk of getting hit by boat propellers. Parallel to this issue I have also unfortunately seen many horrible dorsal fin injuries. I worked closely with dolphins in the past and have been getting to know our local dolphins, and it is obvious to me that they are very smart animals. This being said, the circumstances beg the question: If they weren’t being fed by boaters, would we see a significant decrease in dorsal fin injuries? They can swim up to 25 miles per hour and know to get out of the way of boats, therefore it becomes my conclusion that the begging and these injuries go hand in hand.
It is also not uncommon to see people (especially in the summer months) carrying handfuls and even buckets full of living sand dollars. One can only assume they didn’t put them in the bucket only to put them back into the ocean. These massive sand dollar slaughters happen every year and no one seems to bat an eye. “They’re just sand dollars.” They may be “just sand dollars” however they are an important part of our ecosystem and if they are gone, or if their population is depleted enough, it begins to affect other species, which turns into a ripple effect. Yes, it may take years for us to begin to see our environment being diminished from the lack of what happens to be a crucial member of our ecosystem, but it will happen, and the future of our environment could potentially suffer an innumerable amount of disadvantages.
Hilton Head Island is a unique vacation spot that people love to visit year after year because of its gorgeous beaches, its unique environment, and of course, its wildlife. If the wildlife disappears, the allure of Hilton Head goes with it. Luckily, there is a simple solution to prevent this problem: Be aware of your environment and be respectful of mine. It is my job as a mermaid to protect my ocean home and the beaches that accompany it which I have been accomplishing through education. I have three children’s books out currently: Sammy the Sand Dollar, Mermaid of Hilton Head, and Mermaid of Hilton Head: Dolphin Seafari.All of the books serve the purpose to spread awareness and education about conservation as well as create an interest.
Being respectful of our ecosystem doesn’t just mean stopping feeding our dolphins. It includes turning off your lights if you are beachfront after 10 pm between May and October. It includes picking up litter on the beach – not sand dollars. The most important thing you can do to help is to educate. Most of the tourists who are extirpating our ecological community don’t even know they are doing it. Spreading awareness could be the most essential weapon in defending our natural surroundings and keeping our beautiful island as resplendent as ever.
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When’s the busiest time on the island, you ask? Other than gorgeous, hot summer days that beckon not only visitors out of their hotel rooms, but residents of surrounding towns to flock to the beach? If we’d have to guess, we’d say the weekend that the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament is wrapping up and competition is coming down to the wire—it’s a busy time for sure, but it’s oh so exciting!
This year’s RBC Heritage will take place April 10th-16th.
That being said, if you’ve booked a stay during this time period and have no interest in golf whatsoever, the good news is that you’ll have no problem finding a spot on the beach to catch some rays. We do recommend making dinner reservations to your favorite places, getting those rental bikes reserved in advance, and staying clear of the Harbour Town area.
So, what exactly is the RBC Heritage?
2023 marks the 55th playing of this golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links, an award-winning golf course that was named the best course in South Carolina. A stop on the PGA Tour, the RBC Heritage directly follows the Masters in Augusta. This year’s purse is said to be $20,000,000, which is more than double that of 2022, meaning that even more popular golfers are expected to attend. Exciting, indeed!
Hilton Head Island’s image as a resort destination is heavily linked to this tournament. Charles Fraser, developer of Sea Pines, announced that the first Heritage Classic would be played on this little-known sea island in 1969. Golf legends such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus brought attention to both the tournament and the island itself. Now, more than 100,000 golf fans flock to the island each year to catch a glimpse of the action. Learn more about the tournament’s traditions here.
Another component of the RBC Heritage is the Heritage Classic Foundation. Founded in 1987, donations upward of $49.1 million have been sent to charities in South Carolina. With focuses on the local community, educational scholarships and grants, the environment, and more, this foundation is passionate about the betterment of the region.
According to Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, they were chosen by the Heritage Classic Foundation to be their charity beneficiary of choice for this year’s PGA Tour Charity Challenge. Follow the following members on their selected 8-player fantasy team as they play in tournaments scheduled from January to August:
Take a look at this year’s schedule of events:
Monday, April 10th
Pro-Am Presented by Boeing
The course is closed to spectators.
Tuesday, April 11th
Attend the traditional opening ceremonies and parade in Harbour Town. This year’s parade will include 2022 RBC Heritage Champion, Jordan Spieth, board members of the Heritage Classic Foundation, volunteers of the tournament, and state dignitaries.
Youth Day Putting Contest
2:00 pm-3:00 pm
Children under the age of 15 years old can compete in this contest. Those wanting to join may register in the tent beside the Harbour Town Golf Links Clubhouse.
Pro Practice Rounds
Wednesday, April 12th
RBC Heritage Pro-Am
7:00 am-7:00 pm
Thursday, April 13th
7:20 am-9:00 am
11:50 am-1:30 pm
Friday, April 14th
7:20 am-9:00 am
11:50 am-1:30 pm
Saturday, April 15th: Plaid Nation Day
Starting Times: 8:30 am-1:30 pm
Plaid Nation Games
12:00 pm-2:00 pm
Don’t forget to wear your plaid!
Spectators are encouraged to compete in hole-in-one, various trivia, and a best-dressed competition.
Sunday, April 16th
No ticket is needed to attend this nondenominational service.
Starting times: 8:30 am-1:30 pm
The trophy presentation will be held immediately after play has ended on the 18th green.
Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day like an islander on March 11th and 12th during this year’s IrishFest! The annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade is the largest and most anticipated parade on the island, bringing bands and specialty groups from across the country and the local community together.
South Carolina’s oldest parade, Hilton Head’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade was founded by local business owner, Tom Reilley and his friends and family. The grand marshal for the 38th annual parade will be Stan Smith, a tennis champion and now local of Hilton Head Island.
If you’re going to be in town, make sure to pack accordingly and wear your green!
Saturday, March 11th, 2023 | 4-7pm
Lowcountry Celebration Park
A new tradition started in 2022 to celebrate the return of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade after a brief hiatus, the IrishFest weekend will be kicked off by an outdoor concert at the Lowcountry Celebration Park.
This is a FREE event and all are welcome to join in on the fun! Bands in attendance will be:
Boston Police Gaelic Column P&D
NYPD Emerald Society P&D
The Fenian Sons, a Boston Irish Rock Band
Sunday, March 12th, 2023 | 3:00pm
The main event that is expected to bring up to 25,000 spectators, the IrishFest Parade will step off near the entrance of Lowcountry Celebration Park, continue on Pope Avenue, and end at Park Plaza off Office Park Drive.
Because this is such a big day in that area of the island, plan accordingly and find parking early enough so you can find a place to watch the parade! Breeze Trolley is offering one-way trips from 11 am-2 pm, picking up at the USCB campus and dropping off near Lowcountry Celebration Park.
For more information about IrishFest, visit their website.
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Over two million people per year descend upon Hilton Head Island to enjoy sunshine and miles of sandy beaches. There are few things as relaxing or rewarding as strolling the beach in search of treasures that have washed up on shore. The most commonly found shells on Hilton Head Island include the Lettered Olive, Branded Tulip, Channeled Whelk and Atlantic Jackknife. In addition to a variety of shells, beachcombing on Hilton Head Island can reveal island life discoveries such as sand dollars, horseshoe crabs, clams, oysters, starfish and many mollusks. Sea shell hunting is fun for all ages and creates instant souvenirs from a memorable vacation.
Before you go beachcombing, however, make sure you know how to tell the living from the dead sea life. The island is well-known for its beautiful and abundant sand dollars and starfish. Sand dollars are protected, and many are alive. Removing a living sand dollar from the beach can result in a hefty fine. One of the ways to differentiate a live sand dollar is that they are “fuzzy.” If the cilia and velvety skin is missing then it is not alive. Sand Dollars can vary from a deep brown to a purplish-red color when alive. They will produce a harmless substance called echinochrome which turns your skin yellow. They cannot survive out of water more than a few minutes so if you find one, return it to its home on the ocean floor. After the animal dies, the sun fades its color and it turns to a silvery white.
Starfish (Sea Stars) are stunning animals that come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Though they live in the ocean and are called fish, they are not fish. They are identified by their five arms, and will generally move their arms if picked up. It is not unusual for a live starfish to drop an arm as a defense mechanism when they are threatened or grabbed. The starfish will regenerate another arm with one year. Mollusks such as clams, scallops and oysters occupy shells which they live in for their protection. Any empty or uninhabited shell can be collected and cleaned in a bleach/water combination, then dried in the sun.
Shark’s teeth are sought and found on Hilton Head if you know where to look. There are beaches such as Fish Haul’s Creek, Burke’s Beach and Mitchelville Beach that are less populated. The teeth can be found in clusters in these public parks in proximity to the beach and tidal marsh. Some people venture out on a day trip to nearby beaches, Folly Beach or Pawley’s Island and attest to the quality and size of the teeth found there compared to other beaches. The shark’s teeth are often found south of a pier, between rock piles or between the dunes and water’s edge right out in the open.
Do you prefer to comb the beach for treasures in the sunny, warm tourism months or prefer the cooler winter temps when the beach is largely to yourself? Regardless of your preference, on Hilton Head Island, combing the beach is a year round activity. For successful beachcombing it is suggested to bring a bucket or bag, a shell guide, beach-friendly sandals and sunglasses. Many local companies offer beach walks and beachcombing tours that educate participants on the value of the dunes, the sea creatures and different types of shells. There are beachcombing excursions that include searching for shells, sand dollars, starfish, crabs and shark’s teeth. The Lowcountry Sandbars can only be visited during low tide so some trips often depart at different times of day depending on the tide.
Fill out the form below to receive a Mini Island Discount Packet to use on activities, shopping, and dining on Hilton Head Island!
Super Bowl LVII is fast approaching! On February 12th, we’ll get to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs battle it out for the title of 2023’s Super Bowl Champion. Do your vacation plans happen to line up with the most exciting night of football? Better yet, do you know where you’ll be watching the game on Hilton Head Island? If you haven’t decided yet, we’re here to give you a few suggestions.
Reilley’s Grill and Bar
Already known to be a great spot for sports fans, Reilley’s has both indoor and outdoor seating. There are TVs indoors, but the real gem for those wanting to catch the game will be the outdoor bar—and don’t worry, the outdoor heaters will keep you warm if it happens to be a bit chilly.
You should expect this establishment to be as busy as it is festive since it is already known as a local crowd favorite. We recommend making reservations, especially if you want to join in on the Valentine’s Day specialty menu that coincides with the Super Bowl. For more information, click here.
Plate recommendation: the Buffalo Shrimp and Spring Rolls are two of our favorite appetizers to share!
You can’t go wrong with pizza on game day, so take your group to this well-known spot where you can order your favorites and sit back and watch the game on many of the various TVs throughout the room. There are plenty of tables and seats at the bar, but we recommend getting there early enough to grab one.
This option might be the best one for those who get a little too into the game—order online and pick up a pie in time to get back to the comfort of your condo or room to enjoy. That way you can watch, pace around, or even holler at the TV to your heart’s content.
Pizza recommendation: mushroom lovers will love the Holy Shiitake pizza, but you can never go wrong with a House Special.
Carolina Crab Company
For great atmosphere and beautiful views, head over to the Carolina Crab Company located in Palmetto Bay Marina. This seafood-lovers paradise features indoor and outdoor seating and is a great place to watch the game from any seat.
On both Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm, all bars and high-top tables will have the option to order from the C3 Football menu that includes certain plates and drinks at discounted prices to celebrate the big game. This includes All You Can Eat Peel N’ Eat Shrimp, Buffalo Shrimp Nachos, buckets of domestic and imported beers, and much more. For the full event menu, click here.
Hinchey’s Chicago Bar and Grill
Another great place for catching the game is Hinchey’s Chicago Bar & Grill. With happy hour from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm every day, a great menu to order from, and TVs throughout the room, you’ll wonder why you didn’t stop in for a game before!
If you’re bringing a party of 5 or more, please call to reserve a table. Hinchey’s is in a convenient location on the south end of the island and has plenty of parking, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is if your team wins or not!
We recommend the Toasted Ravioli as a shared plate. The Crab Cake Dinner and Ribeye Steak are two main plates you won’t want to share!
For information about how to receive discounts on some of the restaurants mentioned in this article, fill out the form below:
The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time on Hilton Head Island. As the weather gradually heats up, more festivals and events dot the calendar! If you’re visiting the island within the next couple of months, make sure to come hungry! Here are some of the festivals and events that are coming up!
If you aren’t going to be in town for any of these events, don’t worry! Check out where you can grab a quick bite to eat or dine at some of the best restaurants and cafes on the island.
Chamber Restaurant Week
Jan. 28 – Feb. 4
The 15th annual Restaurant Week is back and better than ever! It’s always an exciting week to be on the island since it’s a great way to try restaurants that are new to you, and of course, visit your favorite spots. Participating restaurants in Hilton Head and Bluffton will offer specially-priced or prix-fixe menus.
The main fundraiser for the David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation, the 16th annual Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival is set to wow guests once again. Attend celebrity guest chef dinners, cooking demos, wine tastings, and more. The best pitmasters, mixologists, and scholars in the south will help you experience and celebrate southern culinary culture. Set in the Lowcountry’s beautiful landscape, indulge in delicious cuisine and learn more about the area’s fishing heritage.
Spend the afternoon in the sunshine surrounded by delicious wings from 20-25 local restaurants, competitions for adults and kids, and a kid zone complete with a rock climbing wall and bungee jump. Admission is $10 per person, and children under the age of 11 are free! All food, beverages, and activities are sold separately, and tickets for these are $1.00 each.
Supporting the local community for 38 years, the Hilton Head Food and Wine Festival’s wine auctions and tasting events benefit the John F. & Valerie Currie Educational Scholarship Fund for college students following their passion for either hospitality or tourism. With many different events throughout the festival period at different locations around the island, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best food, wine, and craft beer in the Lowcountry.
Looking to plan a long weekend getaway to Hilton Head Island? Here’s what we’d do if we were you!
Put on some comfy shoes, because we’re going to see some of the sights! The first day of a long weekend trip is normally a travel day, so we’re filling the day with ways to stretch your legs and get your bearings of the island. Unless you want to make a beeline to the beach for some relaxation, because after all, the beach is always a good idea!
A great way to kick off your Hilton Head adventure is by checking out the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum, an iconic symbol of the island itself. You’ll see likenesses of this lighthouse throughout the island, so why not see the real thing? The focal point of what the founder of the Sea Pines property, Charles Fraser, wanted to be a gathering place for visitors and locals alike, the lighthouse towers above the Harbour Town Marina and awaits golfers at the Harbour Town Golf Links’ 18th hole. Climb the lighthouse’s 114 steps to learn more about the island and for a great photo op at the top!
Harbour Town is a great place to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat or an ice cream cone. Families with young children will have a blast at the Gregg Russell Playground, and those without will love the peaceful nature of the beautiful marina. More times than not, you’ll be able to see some live music or attend a festival or event here, so make sure to check the schedule of events before you head that way!
Nature lovers will want to take a quick detour to the Sea Pines Nature Preserve. Beautiful on a sunny day, visitors can explore the 605 acres of protected wildlife habitat by winding down the trails and wetland boardwalks. Tours by boat, wagon, and horseback are available by reservation ensuring that you’ll have a memorable experience. Please keep in mind that a gate pass must be purchased for a nominal fee at both entrances to the Sea Pines property.
Why not end the day with a dinner cruise? Vagabond Cruise offers a wide variety of cruises throughout the day, and also features specialty dinner cruises depending on the season as well as the classic sunset dinner cruise—the only one on Hilton Head Island! Conveniently departing from Harbour Town, you’ll be able to get out on the water you’ve been admiring all day and see the island’s beautiful waterline during sunset.
Start the day off right with a delicious breakfast at Stacks Pancakes. Located mid-island, this establishment is a favorite among many visitors who stop in year after year. The pancakes are phenomenal as you’d imagine, but the menu is robust and even the pickiest of eaters will find something to their liking. This is also the spot to go to if you’re looking for tasty gluten-free pancakes.
With a full stomach, you’re ready to take on the rest of the day full of fun and exciting activities! That is, of course, unless you decide to spend the day at the beach. Something tells us that if you’ve been reading up until this point, you’re looking for other activities to plan. We’re also assuming that golfers have already secured their tee times for today, so let’s move on to the other popular activity on the island—biking.
There are certainly packages that will allow you to have rental bikes for your entire stay, giving you full access to the island’s public pathways and beaches anytime you want. Some bicycle rental companies, like Wheelz of Hilton Head, offer delivery and pickup services for your convenience. Even if you rent bicycles for half of a day, you won’t regret it! If you have small children or lots of cargo you plan on taking to the beach, look into the different attachments offered as well. If biking is out of the question, what about renting a golf cart to cruise through the Coligny Beach Area.
Not only is Coligny Beach Park one of the most popular beaches on the island, but it is also just steps away from a bunch of shops and restaurants that you won’t want to miss out on. With many types of cuisines to choose from, this is a great place to stop for lunch before or after finding the best souvenirs to remember your trip by. Across the street is the Lowcountry Celebration Park, a great place for kids to have fun on the Adventure Playground that’s inspired by the ship Captain William Hilton was on when he discovered Hilton Head Island. Beside it sits the Sandbox Children’s Museum, a fun learning experience that’s especially nice on rainy days.
Another popular spot to grab a refreshing drink and a quick bite to eat is back on the beach at the Tiki Hut. Located to the right of the public entrance of Coligny Beach, this crowd-favorite beach bar has been serving delicious food and beverages oceanside since 1977. With a fun atmosphere, the Tiki Hut also offers quality live music from the early afternoon to long after the sun goes down, depending on the season of course.
While those wanting to stay on island time might spend the end of the afternoon with a restful nap or poolside with a cold drink, adventure seekers might want to head over to Adventure Hilton Head for ziplines, aerial courses, and go-karts! Open seasonally, this is a great place to see the island as you’ve never seen it before and get your adrenaline pumping.
End the evening with a delicious meal and phenomenal entertainment at The Jazz Corner, an award-winning 50-seat jazz club and restaurant. Reservations are recommended to experience one of two nightly shows and enjoy elevated southern cooking.
Early risers and visitors who just want to sleep in will both be able to get on board with this next early-morning plan…literally. Take advantage of the rest of your time on Hilton Head and book yourself a seat on a morning dolphin cruise with One HHI. As a fair warning, earlier times might not be available in colder temperatures. If that’s the case, enjoy breakfast at the Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café before it’s time to head out to the marina to begin your cruise—it’s only steps away!
If there’s any extra time to kill before leaving our little corner of the Lowcountry, you can never go wrong with a round of miniature golf. Fun for all ages, a round of mini golf at either Adventure Cove or Legendary Golf will be a treat for the entire group. Families especially will like Adventure Cove because of the arcade inside. Legendary Golf is a country club-styled putt-putt course that appeals to those looking for a little challenge and a lot of fun.
If you’d like to know more about how to receive discounts on the activities mentioned, fill out the form below: