As high season builds here on America’s favorite vacation island, our guests remind us of the sheer variety of reasons they come here, of the things they enjoy doing with their time in paradise. Right here in the shadow of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, where the whole idea of Hilton Head Island as a world-class resort was born, is where a great many visitors begin their discovery.
From here at the lighthouse, we can look out to the far horizon with just about all the fun things to do on Hilton Head right here within our gaze. There are well-informed and loyal Sea Pines visitors who never find it necessary to venture much beyond the gates, because Sea Pines was planned so carefully to offer just that kind of variety and excellence.
Yet, because we focus on those things to do in Sea Pines fairly frequently, let’s take this opportunity to venture out and explore the amazing imagination and enterprise behind those fun things to do that lie beyond our Sea Pines gateway. Let’s rent a bike or two from the Peddling Pelican in The Shops at Sea Pines Center and follow the bike-friendly byways that join our 15 miles of leisure trails in Sea Pines with the 49 miles of trails beyond.
First Stop – the Atlantic
Our beaches beckon all year round to folks who long for the soothing sound of waves and the rhythm of our gentle coastal Carolina tides. Not only do our beaches top the list of many visitors’ must-do lists of fun things to do on Hilton Head Island when they come for a visit, but they also are found on the lists of the best beaches in the world, year after year. The continental shelf between Hilton Head Island and the currents of the Gulf Stream makes for a shallow approach for those waves and tides. The result is a gentle version of the seashore, perfect for families, romantic couples, and people seeking a peaceful kind of ocean.
A convenient place to start your exploration of the fun things to do on Hilton Head with a beach day, because of the ample public amenities nearby, is Coligny Beach Park. For a quieter day at the beach, Driessen Beach Park offers plenty of parking, a pleasant stroll to the beach, showers and bathrooms, and it’s patrolled by lifeguards and park rangers for your peace of mind. Another option, wilder and better for exploring than for swimming, is Mitchelville Beach. There are bathroom and shower facilities there, and you can stroll across the bridge to a big, multi-purpose recreational field for family fun.
While you’re at Mitchelville Beach, don’t miss the chance to check out Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, where the heritage of America’s first African American self-governed town is preserved and celebrated.
If you like being on the water more than in it, the fun things to do on Hilton Head include endless possibilities for boaters – and for visitors who would rather have somebody else handle the boat. Cruises of every kind abound here on Hilton Head Island. Whether you’d like to keep company with the dolphins right here in Calibogue Sound, enjoy a sunset sip on a cocktail cruise, or gear up and go after game fish, there’s something to suit you here.
One of our favorite fun things to do on Hilton Head – and one that clicks with any fan of Forrest Gump – is a shrimp trawling boat cruise. Join an experienced crew for a cruise out among the salt marshes, with the chance to catch shrimp and other fish. Some say the view of our island from out on the water is itself worth the trip, but there’s more. So much of the authentic sea island and Lowcountry culture is based on the self-sufficiency of native islanders who got along fine as the busy world passed by Hilton Head Island, in the days before it became America’s favorite vacation island.
For families with young children looking for fun things to do on Hilton Head, the adventure cruise of the pirate ship Black Dagger has been providing squeals of laughter and the pleasure of a hands-on treasure hunt for generations. In just an hour and a half, kids are transformed with costumes and lessons to enable them to beat the bad guys to the treasure every time.
The gentle appearance of our dolphins makes their company sought after. The fact that dolphins signify good luck to sailors makes them a worthwhile sighting, too. There’s no better time for this than sunset, and no better atmosphere than the silence of sail, so consider a private sunset sailing tour with dolphin watching. Set sail for Port Royal Sound on a 2½-hour experience for up to six people. We’ve never heard anyone disappointed.
And After Sunset
Nightlife might not be the first thing people think of, when the subject of fun things to do on Hilton Head comes up, but just because it’s not famous doesn’t mean it’s not good. In fact, when it comes to nightlife, it’s what the insiders know that counts.
Although sensible precautions have limited our ability to host people indoors for a while, the time is coming when Hilton Head’s tried-and-true night spots will be humming again.
The best of inside information leads adults to the Tiki Hut for cocktails, music, and a leisurely view of beach volleyball with the languid South Carolina surf as a backdrop. One of our favorite comments on Tiki Hut – and we hear it from a lot of people – is, “If you’re like me, you see no reason to leave.” Possibly this is why evenings start here for so many.
Live music of all kinds abounds on Hilton Head Island. The Rooftop Bar at Poseidon has become the scene for rock and dancing, a place where all ages and interests feel free to cut loose. Magnificent sunset views of Shelter Cove on the Intracoastal Waterway and excellent dining and drinks give Poseidon a kind of perfection, offering far more than the normal rock venue, and more than most folks can imagine – until they go.
Let this brief rundown stand as an invitation, because we love to share the magic we’ve found here on Hilton Head, America’s favorite vacation island.