5 Unique Ways to See Hilton Head Island


If you’ve visited Hilton Head Island at least once before, you know how magical it is to leave the mainland behind you and be suddenly surrounded by the beautiful intracoastal waterway atop either bridge. With the lush, green island ahead of you, shrimping boats to the right, all passengers in the car keep their eyes peeled for dolphins swimming by. This feels only second to that marvelous moment when your feet touch the soft sand and you hear the waves crashing onto shore.

This is how visitors normally see Hilton Head. Through easy drives from one end to the other, atop bikes cruising through the island’s miles of pathways, or walking along the beach or through the many local shopping centers.

You may love the tradition of it all, and look forward to seeing your favorite island in the ways you’re accustomed to. But what if we told you there’s so much more in store? Break out of your comfort zone and try one or all of these unique ways to see the Hilton Head you know and love.


Picture by Rajiv Perera


For some visitors, this is a classic way to see the island and feel that rush of adrenaline on a warm, sunny day. Not only will you have great views of the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Yacht Basin, but you’ll be able to see Daufuskie Island and of course, the island’s playful bottlenose dolphins.

Beachgoers watching parasailers fly above the Calibogue Sound always wish that they would’ve thought to make reservations for this incredible experience themselves. So, this your sign: reserve your seats now!

Island Head is the premier watersports company for parasailing. Leaving from Hilton Head Harbour at various times throughout the day, you and your family can board the 31’ Ocean Pro parasail boat to take turns flying up into the sky. All flyers have the option to stay dry or to make a splash, and tandem to triple flights can be accommodated based on weather conditions.

Island Head

(843) 686-4386 | Website


Picture by Hilton Head Helicopter Tours

Helicopter Tours

For a truly unforgettable experience that is more affordable than one might think, those looking for the best views of Hilton Head need to sign up for a helicopter tour. Choose one of many different tours led by Hilton Head Helicopter Tours to decide on what you’d like to see.

Wanting to explore beaches overhead or to see marine life like sharks, sea turtles, and dolphins? Some tours include seeing multiple lighthouses, finding shipwrecks, and even spotting monkeys—that’s right, monkeys. Tours vary in time up in the air and how far you’d like to travel from the island, and all ages are welcome to fly!

Hilton Head Helicopter Tours

(843) 505-7182 | Website


Picture by Ibrahim Boran

Dinner Cruises

For a much more relaxed and luxurious new perspective of the island, make reservations to dine on the surrounding waters with Vagabond Cruise. Allow the award-winning chefs of the Sea Pines Resort to prepare a delicious plated meal for you and your crew to enjoy. Choose between a table inside the comfortable climate-controlled cabin that features panoramic views, or al fresco on the shaded topside deck.

You can’t go wrong with hopping aboard the Sunset Dinner Cruise, and depending on the season, you’ll see the gorgeous setting sun beside Daufuskie Island or along the waters of Broad Creek. During the summer months, those wanting an early-bird dining option may decide to join in on the Dinner with the Dolphins Cruise. Throughout the year, Vagabond Cruise does an excellent job at including dinner cruises for holidays and special events, so check the calendar! All ages are welcome, and reservations can be made online.

Vagabond Cruises

(843) 363-9026 | Website


Picture by Hilton Head Segway

Segway Tours

Visitors looking for a new way to experience the island, on the island should consider taking a Segway tour. There are actually two, really great touring companies on the island, so it won’t be hard at all finding the perfect tour for you.

Let’s break it down:

Hilton Head Segway is perfect for history buffs and nature lovers. Early risers will love the Sunrise Tour of the gardens, boardwalks, parks, and Coligny Beach at the south end of the island. The Shelter Cove Veterans Memorial Tour and Historic Mitchelville Tour are especially popular among those looking to learn more about the history of the island. All tours offered will allow you to experience the natural beauty of Hilton Head and learn more about the island’s past.

Island Segway is for those who still want to get a piece of the island’s history and beauty, but is a great option for foodies! Again, early risers will love the Morning Segway and Coffee tour that lets you experience the island’s beautiful paths but also make room for coffee and delicious pastries. Other tours popular for foodies are both the Segway and Smoothies and the Taco Tour—a favorite for those wanting to find the best tacos on the island.

Hilton Head Segway

(843) 800-6004 | Website

Island Segway

(843) 684-2004 | Website


History Tours

You haven’t truly seen Hilton Head until you’ve taken a tour from the expert historians at Hilton Head History Tours. This 3-hour tour brings you to the significant historical island locations and allows you to fully see and understand how the island came to be what it is today. Fascinating and recommended for everyone, no matter if they’re a self-proclaimed history buff or not, this tour is as exciting as it is comfortable as the motor coach’s air conditioning is truly blissful on a summer’s day.

Hilton Head History Tours

(843) 949-0144 | Website



For potential discounts or further information about any of the activities listed in this article, please fill out the form below:

What to Know About RBC Heritage 2023

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:

Scottie Scheffler

Justin Thomas

Tom Kim

Davis Riley

Gary Woodland

Joel Dahmen

John Rahm

Will Zalatoris

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

Opening Ceremonies

12:00 pm

18th Green

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

Putting Green

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

All day

Wednesday, April 12th

RBC Heritage Pro-Am

7:00 am-7:00 pm

Thursday, April 13th

First Round

Starting Times:

7:20 am-9:00 am

11:50 am-1:30 pm

Friday, April 14th

Second Round

Starting Times:

7:20 am-9:00 am

11:50 am-1:30 pm

Saturday, April 15th: Plaid Nation Day

Third Round

Starting Times: 8:30 am-1:30 pm

Plaid Nation Games

12:00 pm-2:00 pm

Heritage Lawn

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

Sunrise Service

7:30 am

Liberty Oak

No ticket is needed to attend this nondenominational service.

Final Round

Starting times: 8:30 am-1:30 pm

The trophy presentation will be held immediately after play has ended on the 18th green.


Hilton Head Island’s IrishFest 2023

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!


IrishFest Concert

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

IrishFest Parade

Sunday, March 12th, 2023 | 3:00pm

Pope Avenue

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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Beachcombing on Hilton Head Island

Written by Erin Laytham Lentz

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.


Photo by Forest SImon


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. 


Photo by Wicker Woodson


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.


Photo by Roman Wimmers


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!

Where to Watch Super Bowl LVII 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!


Mellow Mushroom

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.

Photo by Brenna Huff

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:

Long Weekend Itinerary to Help You Explore More of Hilton Head Island

Looking to plan a long weekend getaway to Hilton Head Island? Here’s what we’d do if we were you!

Day 1:

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!

Photo by Shep McAllister


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.


Day 2:

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.

Adventure Playground at Lowcountry Celebration Park

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.


Day 3:

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!

Photo by Isabel Retamales

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:

Hilton Head Island–A Family-Friendly Destination

Are you starting to think of places your family would love to visit during spring or summer break? It can sometimes be hard to come up with a list of potential places—let alone one destination—that the whole family can agree on.

Hilton Head Island has always been a place for families to return to year after year for fun and relaxation fit for all ages. Don’t believe us? Travel+Leisure’s Lindsay Cohn collected twenty-two of the best destinations for families to travel to on their next vacation within the United States in an article that you can read here, and we were not surprised to see our beloved island on the list.


Photo by Amber Faust

Cohn lists a few reasons why Hilton Head is great for families, but we’d like to go a step further and give you more information about some of the ideas listed in the article:



One of the most appealing aspects of Hilton Head that brings many visitors to the island is the idea of enjoying a warm day on the beach. With more than 12 miles of uninterrupted sandy beaches that look out into the Atlantic Ocean, visitors and locals alike can break out the beach gear and have fun in the sun.  There aren’t too many private beaches on the island, but if you’re looking for the nearest public beach access, take a look at the town’s website.


Lowcountry Cuisine

Hilton Head and the surrounding Lowcountry are known for their delicious cuisine. Some people can’t wait to get here and eat nothing but fresh seafood dishes, but sometimes the picky eaters among us aren’t too happy with that idea. In that case, don’t fear! The island is full of many different types of food that’ll put a smile on everyone’s face.


Wildlife Viewing

Unlike other popular beach destinations, Hilton Head prioritizes keeping the island as natural as possible. That means you’ll see more local wildlife and fewer neon signs and light pollution. The most infamous creature that you’ll probably see on your next trip to the island is an alligator. Depending on what time of the year you’re visiting, the island keeps up with the sea turtle nest count and looks forward to birding in the winter.



Whether you like golf or not, there’s no denying the incredible championship courses that the island offers. Opportunities for clinics and private lessons for all ages abound for both golf and tennis. Interested in pickleball? This newest sports craze has taken the island by storm—learn more about how your family can play here.


Pirate Cruise

Great for families with children between the ages of three and ten, hopping aboard the Black Sparrow on a quest for pirate treasure is always a fun experience.

Photo by Pirates of Hilton Head


Children’s Museums

Located in the Lowcountry Celebration Park that’s just steps away from Coligny Beach, the Sandbox Children’s Museum is a great place to take a break from the heat or step out of the rain to learn more about everything from the surrounding area to S.T.E.M projects.

Other museums that the whole family may enjoy are both the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum and the Coastal Discovery Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.  


Dolphin Watching

Hilton Head has a year-round dolphin population, meaning you’ll always have the chance to spot the playful creatures. You can always keep your eyes peeled during your day at the beach or over breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a marina, but for a better chance to get up close to some dolphins, book yourself a seat on a dolphin cruise with One HHI or private experience from Hilton Head Boat Charters.

Photo by Shelby Cohron


Water Sports

Cohn mentions going on a zodiac ride, which is a hard bottom raft used to navigate the surrounding waters. There are many more opportunities to get on the water for thrill seekers and those looking to relax. Rent a jet ski or creek cat from Lowcountry Watersports if you’re looking for something a little more fast-paced. For slowing down and enjoying the beautiful view, we recommend paddle boarding and kayaking with One HHI.

If you would like more information on how to receive discounts on various activities mentioned in this article, please fill out the short form below:

Do You Need a Rental Car to Explore Hilton Head?

Many people that have only just begun planning their first trip to Hilton Head Island have a long list of questions, and you might be one of them! Which beaches are public? Are there really alligators? Where can you order the best crab legs? The list goes on and on.

One question that tends to come up a lot is whether or not visitors need to rent a car for their stay. Our answer? Yes…and no. Read on for an honest, side-by-side comparison that will help clear up some of the confusion.

Photo by Darwin Vegher


I’m flying into…

Hilton Head Island Airport

If your plane is landing on Hilton Head Island, you’re already ahead of the game.  If you choose to use a cab service or a rideshare to get to your accommodations, the drive won’t take up too much time since the island itself is only 12 miles long.  Pro tip: you’ll probably have more luck with a local transportation company than a rideshare app, especially if you’re not visiting for spring break or summer vacation.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

Don’t let the name of this airport confuse you. If you land in Savannah, you have an additional one-hour’s drive to get to the island. Cabs and rideshare fares will definitely add up, but sometimes people feel more comfortable with transportation to and from the airport in new places. We’d recommend a car in this situation, but everyone’s different!

Photo by Voo Q


The weatherman says it’ll be…


This is when Hilton Head shines brightest—literally. Most people will only want to head to the beach, and since the island is known for its convenient public pathways, biking to one of the many beaches is honestly the best way to get there. You can lock up your bikes at the entrances, or take them with you to enjoy a nice beach bike ride. Of course, biking isn’t for everyone, but it’s going to be the most efficient form of transportation, especially in the busier seasons when beach parking tends to fill up fast and traffic starts to increase. Other activities like boat cruises, mini golf, and more are spread out throughout the island, so it all depends on how active you want to be on your bikes.

Photo by Wheelz of Hilton Head


It’s certainly true that there are far fewer crowds when the weather turns a little chillier, however, what is considered, “cold” to some people may be more refreshing to others. So, feel free to layer up and still rent that bike for an afternoon ride—the sunshine and workout will keep you warm and the fresh air will feel better than being stuck in a stuffy room.  The winter and early spring months are perfect for exploring the surrounding Lowcountry, so you would need a car to reach nearby towns and locations that you won’t be able to if you only had a bike on hand.


Our coastal weather can be unpredictable, making planning your trip a little daunting, especially in the summer—or dare we say hurricane season! Most of the time, you can bet that the future forecast of all-day showers will clear up by the time you check it again the morning of, but when it’s hot and humid, don’t be surprised if you get caught in a short afternoon rainstorm.  If you know it’s going to be cold and rainy, just book the rental car. If you have a lot of fancier dinner plans throughout the week, book the rental car or be prepared to spend some money on rideshare or cabs. Getting caught in the rain on a bike is never fun, but don’t think your whole day is ruined—duck into a gift shop or stop for lunch and wait it out.


Can I really get anywhere on a bike?

Yes, for the most part.  If you’re planning on staying relatively close to where you’re staying—which most people do—then bikes are ideal.  If you’re worried about how you’re going to lug around your cooler to the beach or bags of souvenirs back from the shops, check out the many different attachments that bike shops offer. This goes for child seats and other ways to help those little ones in your group who aren’t able to ride on their own find a way to tag along for the ride.

Sometimes breaking out the bike to go somewhere just isn’t feasible. Have dinner plans that has a dress code? Want to explore Sea Pines, Daufuskie, or Bluffton? There are some reasons why rental bikes aren’t always the answer. If you feel like you need some sort of wheels that aren’t necessarily a rental car commitment, check to see if your accommodations allow you to rent a golf cart on the South End of the island instead!

Photo by Wheelz of Hilton Head

In summary…

For the most part, Hilton Head Island offers a wide array of dining options and activities that are going to be within walking or biking distance. If you’re still unsure that relying on other transportation than just hopping into a rental car is for you, book the rental car.  Regardless of your decision, make sure to research where you’re staying and pack some patience. You’re going to be on island time after all!

Celebrate New Year’s 2023 on Hilton Head Island

Looking for ways to ring in the new year? Here are some events on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on Hilton Head Island:

The Jazz Corner

Dec. 31st, 2022 | 5:00pm-10:30pm

1000 William Hilton Pkwy,

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Enjoy a fabulous concert by the Noel Freidline Quintet featuring Maria Howell over a delicious four course dinner.

Click here for more information

Harbour Town

Dec. 31st, 2022 | 6:00pm-1:00am

149 Lighthouse Rd,

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Join in on the festivities and attend the main event at midnight, or catch the 7pm ball drop if you and your crew want to get a good night’s sleep.

Can’t make it? Watch the livestream here!

Coligny Polar Plunge

Jan. 1st, 2023 | 11:00am

1 Coligny Cir,

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Everyone is welcome to join in on this island tradition that benefits Charli’s Critters Charity.

New Year’s Bloody Bar Extravaganza

Jan. 1st, 2023 | 10:00am-3:00pm

232 S Sea Pines Dr,

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Salty Dog Cafe’s biggest Bloody Mary bar yet!

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Traveling Through Time on a Hilton Head History Tour

Written in partnership with Hilton Head History Tours

It was as if I was hearing of Hilton Head Island for the very first time.  We have come to Green’s Shell Park to see a “Shell Ring” built over 3,000 years ago by Nomadic Indigenous people who traveled here in search of shellfish. But there is more history here than just the ring. There, on the observation deck overlooking Skull Creek, the 12-mile-long island that we know—or thought we knew—suddenly becomes a pirate’s hideaway right before our very eyes. 

View of Skull Creek from Green’s Shell Park

“Crews would use Skull Creek for careening their ships in order to clean the hulls, which was essential in making sure that the vessel’s speed wasn’t impaired.” This is Todd, the guide responsible for reintroducing our beloved island to all of us during today’s Hilton Head History Tour.  Passionate about the region’s past, Todd tells of Hilton Head’s involvement during the Golden Age of Piracy. A perfect place for hiding and repairing their ships, crews could also navigate the intracoastal waterway between the key ports of Savannah and Charleston.

Pottery fragments found in Green’s Shell Park

“A journal entry from the time describes up to 8 pirate ships out there careening their hulls”. He motions to the waterway behind us, making the group turn to take in the current scene of a single sailboat gliding through the calm creek framed by spartina grass.  It’s hard to understand, but this won’t be the only time we’re tasked with imagining how the island would have looked hundreds of years ago during the tour.

Tales of Blackbeard follow, and the curtain of Hollywood’s take on piracy falls. Our eyes grow wide when Todd suggests the idea of Blackbeard’s treasure being buried somewhere at the south end of the island, or in Bath, NC, but probably lost forever with the changing sea levels.

Coastal Discovery Museum

As the tour moves on, we jump back and forth in time with every new significant location we explore. We make a brief journey through the Antebellum Period as we circle the main house of Honey Horn Plantation, what is now the home of the Coastal Discovery Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate. Todd assures us that a return trip back to the museum on our own time is worth it, even if it’s just to walk through the beautiful butterfly enclosure.

We cross into the devastating stretch of time immediately after a deadly hurricane in 1893 wreaks havoc on Hilton Head and leaves most of the island essentially uninhabitable for over a year.  We’re standing in front of one of four surviving buildings at Honey Horn, and after our bus travels toward the middle of the island, we find the second building looming over us in Zion Cemetery—the Baynard Mausoleum.

Baynard Mausoleum in Zion Cemetery

I’ve heard about this tomb before, specifically a ghost story that the locals like to tell. It’s easy to see why this structure survived a massive hurricane when so many other buildings were flattened. This structure is unlike anything in our area. The roof stone is made of Pennsylvania blue slate and the walls are stone cut in Maryland. The stone cutters who carved it from the mountain traveled with it here on a series of barges and after its final leg up the Broad Creek, it was assembled where it still sits today.

We’re leaving Zion Cemetery with the mystery of the vanishing Chapel of Ease on our hands and stories of the local patriots in the Bloody Legion’s guerrilla attacks during the Revolutionary War swirling through our heads. Our group is absorbing the information and stories as fast as we can, and no, we don’t seem to have many questions since Todd is so thorough with his explanations. Although, he compels us to pepper him with questions throughout the tour. It’s as if we’re gradually putting together the pieces of Hilton Head’s history in some sort of puzzle, and the last pieces are lying in Mitchelville—at least for our tour’s sake.

A street lined with colorful beach bungalows gives way to the entrance of Mitchelville, the first town built by and for formerly enslaved people. Metaphorically called the Port Royal Experiment at the time, the group of escaped slaves that had become contraband of war before Emancipation ultimately proved their ability to self-govern. Mitchelville was a success, and by the war’s end had almost twice as many inhabitants as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at the time.

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park

Its importance rediscovered relatively recently, Mitchelville and other island landmarks show us that there is so much still to learn about our island. A theme reoccurring during the entirety of the tour, more of Hilton Head’s history is still being discovered. This is reason enough to argue that only taking a Hilton Head History Tour once isn’t enough. With so much information packed into three hours, each tour taken is already bound to be considerably different, and who knows what historians will discover by the time you return to Hilton Head for your next vacation.

Make your reservation, lace up your sneakers, and get ready to learn the real story behind Hilton Head Island.

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