Already the sunlight was lasting longer in tiny bits every day. Our sunrise started a minute or two sooner, and our sunset – closing time at the Harbour Town Lighthouse – was arriving just a minute or two later, day by day. Suddenly, as we sprang forward in response to daylight savings time, it feels as if we are opening our arms wider to welcome more guests and to see them savor the sights of America’s favorite vacation island even more than before.
It occurs to us that we have this in common with farming families, as here at the lighthouse, we live by the sun and the seasons. Our incomparable views and the time to enjoy them stay longer and longer, and those rhythms change gently as the year moves along. This custom of re-setting our watches in the spring and fall brings the clearest changes of all. In the spring, it reminds us of all the things that people love to do here. It invites folks to stay awhile longer, too.
More Time to Tee It Up
A winter day on Hilton Head Island is when you switch from a golf sweater to a golf jacket, and so there’s rarely a time when a round of golf is not a favorite option among the many Hilton Head activities. There are 32 courses hereabouts that you can choose from, and so it is no wonder our nickname is Golf Island. And there are true legends behind this story.
Harbour Town Golf Links, where the 18th green is right here in the shadow of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, became world famous for any number of reasons, and for lots of golfers it tops their list of Hilton Head attractions. This month, the course will once again host the RBC Heritage golf tournament that helped put Hilton Head Island on the map more than a half-century ago.
That first Heritage Classic in 1969 launched the comeback of golf legend Arnold Palmer, who had been winless for fourteen months. Harbour Town Golf Links proved to be a stroke of luck for Palmer. He won another tournament the next week and was named Associated Press Athlete of the Decade just two weeks later. Those same Harbour Town Golf Links are now beheld for hours each year by a worldwide TV audience. As a result, it’s the course that becomes a bucket-list round for golfers everywhere.
This is only the beginning. There are three courses to choose from without even leaving the Sea Pines gates for your own Hilton Head activities. In addition to the Harbour Town Golf Links, where a young Pete Dye was the architect and Jack Nicklaus was the design consultant, there’s the refreshed Atlantic Dunes, as well as Heron Point. Atlantic Dunes is a thorough Davis Love III reconstruction of Sea Pines’ original Ocean Course and was named NGCOA’s National Course of the Year. Heron Point, design by Pete Dye, has been named to Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” list and was South Carolina’s 2015 Course of the Year.
More of the Best Beaches in the World
The quality and variety of Hilton Head’s beaches – which have appeared on the lists of the world’s best beaches year after year – make staying longer a good idea. From the cozy coastline of Port Royal Sound to the bustling beach at the foot of Pope Avenue – and extending to favorites such as Folly Field in between – Hilton Head Island beaches offer choices to suit any mood. The most fortunate beach vantage point of all might be the Sea Pines Beach Club, which is just down the road from the Harbour Town Lighthouse. At the Beach Club, you can enjoy oceanfront dining at Coast, where you can enjoy the best of Lowcountry cuisine, including classic crab legs with drawn butter.
What all our Hilton Head Island beaches have in common is their own shade of near-white, fine sand and gentle Carolina surf. Our tides here are tamed by a long, slow approach through the shallows between our island and the reef that bounds between us and the Gulf Stream. There’s no question of what makes beach life one of the favorite Hilton Head activities.