My family and I have been visiting Hilton Head Island, South Carolina every summer since I was a child. This gorgeous barrier island has far more to offer than what meets the eye. Besides soaking up the sun on the beach, here are 10 other activities that have made vacationing here such a delightful experience over the years.
1. Harbor Town Lighthouse.
Address: 149 Lighthouse Road Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Located in Harbor Town Marina, this beautiful red and white striped lighthouse is not a sight to miss next time you're in Sea Pines Resort. The lighthouse is 93 feet tall and acts as the target for the 18th hole at Harbor Town Golf Links. Visitors can climb 114 stairs to the top where there is a gift shop called "Shop at the Top" and a panoramic view of Hilton Head and islands off the coast of Georgia.
2. South Beach Marina.
Address: 8 Portside Drive Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
At the "toe" of Hilton Head Island is South Beach, a gorgeous marina with beachy buildings painted with shades of red, white, and blue. This vacationing spot is perfect for shopping, eating, and enjoying quality time with loved ones. The Salty Dog is the main attraction in the marina for some, but for me, the rainbow parrots on display and the long boardwalk that overlooks the salt marsh are what keep me coming back again and again.
3. Coastal Discovery Museum.Sunset Sand Hilton Head Island Sc Beach
Address: 70 Honey Horn Drive Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
If you're a fan of learning something new and enjoying the outdoors, this is definitely the place for you. The Coastal Discovery Museum is located on the 68 acre Honey Horn property. The center provides educational programs and exhibits that give visitors an insight into the culture and history of Hilton Head Island. In addition, the museum offers guided tours, a butterfly enclosure, and horses for people of all ages to enjoy. My favorite memory at the Coastal Discovery Museum was going on the late-night turtle talk and walk; you can only imagine the excitement 9-year-old me felt when I walked to different turtle nesting sites right on the beach.
4. H20 Water Sports.
Address: 149 Lighthouse Road Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Getting out on the beach or on the water is a must for every Hilton Head Island tourist. H2O Water Sports is based in Harbor Town and offers a variety of exciting activities for families and friends to enjoy. My favorite water sports experience has been parasailing over the island. Parasailing seems terrifying at first, but it remains one of my vacation highlights for the books! While gliding through the sky, my mom and I have seen manta rays and groups of jellyfish right below our feet; with that, we keep coming back for more each trip!
5. Cinnamon Bear Country Store.Giphy
Address: 149 Lighthouse Road F Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Also located in Harbor Town Marina, the Cinnamon Bear Country Store has been a family favorite of mine for years. It's easy to spot from both entrances: just look for the standing brown bear with a t-shirt on! This shop has an array for old-fashioned goods that range from souvenirs to Lowcountry snacks to children's toys. The best part of the store, in my opinion, is the ice cream and coffee shop towards the back; these treats are perfect during the hot summer months. My favorite flavor of ice cream is good-ol' chocolate and even at age 18, I find myself coming back for more!
6. Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island.
Address: 12 Georgianna Drive Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
For those who have an interest in the rich African-American culture in the Lowcountry, a visit to the Gullah Museum is a must. The museum features an overview of the history and customs of this remarkable group of people, and programs are offered on a weekly basis for all ages. As a child, I loved visiting the Gullah Museum to look at their photo gallery, explore the property, and attend workshops.
7. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Reserve.
Address: Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge c/o Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex Headquarters
694 Beech Hill Lane Hardeeville, SC 29927
I only recently discovered this attraction a few years ago when my mom and I were looking for a place to hike and birdwatch. Pinckney Island is one of the best preserved coastal sites I have ever encountered. Going on an early morning guided tour is a must; even though waking up at 7 a.m. on vacation was rough, the wildlife I encountered and the folks I met made the trek worth it. If you end up stopping by, keep a close eye on any body of water for alligators and along the tree-line for beautiful coastal birds.
8. The Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory.
Address: 232 South Sea Pines Drive #305 Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
The legend of the Salty Dog is one that has been enjoyed for decades; the story is about Jake, a dog who saved his owner John Braddocks by swimming him to shore for three days and three nights after a disastrous storm at sea. The Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory at South Beach Marina is a stop that visitors should make for purchasing souvenirs and the best t-shirts in town to remember this special event. Also at the Marina is a stand to tie-dye your own Salty Dog t-shirt which I've enjoyed doing for many summers.
9. Bike rental with Peddling Pelican.
Address: 71 Lighthouse Road #516 Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Hilton Head Island has over 60 miles of winding, paved biking paths that stretch all across the island. My family and I have been renting bikes and exploring different parts of Sea Pines Resort for as long as I can remember. The gentle island slopes and low-hanging oak tree canopies with Spanish moss make the journey to your destination all the more enjoyable on bikes. I recommend using Peddling Pelicans for rentals as they have a lot of options and are always in great shape.
!0. Giuseppi's Pizza & Pasta.
Address: 50 Shelter Cove Lane Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
After a long 6 hour drive from home to the island, my family and I always stop here for dinner. The pizza and calzones are absolutely delicious, and the friendly atmosphere keeps us coming back for more. Sitting outside in the evening to see Hilton Head's sunset with a slice of pizza in hand is a feeling like no other. Gluten-free options and delivery are available as well!