Outside in all seasons!
Aug 7, 2019 at 12:00 PM by
Golf, golf, golf. It’s a big part of the whole raison d’être of the Hilton Head and Bluffton of today. Since the early sixties, this part of South Carolina has grown into one of the golf capitals of the world. With more than twenty-four public and private championship courses, designed by renowned golf architects such as Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, Sr., here you can play on courses that will forever remain etched in your mind. Or, just walk along them during one of the major PGA events hosted in Hilton Head every year. No matter your skill or interest level, you can enjoy a variety of experiences on terrific courses, many of which come replete with oceanfront views.
Beyond golf, you can engage in a boatload of activities that will allow you to discover the many wonderful facets of Hilton Head, the second largest barrier island on the east coast of the United States and nearby Bluffton, a larger community that offers plenty of reasons for vacationers to visit their town.
Situated at the southwest end of the island within The Sea Pines Resort, Harbour Town is a great place to start. If you’re feeling energetic, hike up the 114 steps to the top of the red-and-white-striped Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum. From up high, you’re rewarded with panoramic vistas, which are among the best on the island whether you’re looking out at the Atlantic Ocean and Calibogue Sound or turning your sights inland at the renowned Harbor Town Golf Links. Down below, you can take in the scene from one of the red rocking chairs at the lighthouse or while relaxing over a bite at one of the Harbour Town eateries. There’s also lots going on at the Harbor Town Yacht Basin, a full-service marina where you can line up all kinds of water sports fun from parasailing to kayaking and more. Allow time for shopping, too!
Take a walk in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, where you’ll immerse yourself in some 600 acres of nature. Be sure to check out the Shell Ring Trail, which leads you through a pine forest to a 4,000-year-old shell ring. This impressive mound of broken shells is believed to have been created as a boundary of sorts by Native Americans, the area’s early inhabitants.
Step back into modern-day civilization at Coligny Plaza, another happening place brimming with shops, restaurants and hotels, all within a short distance of Coligny Beach Park, both of which are easily accessed by the bike paths. People gather around the center stage area to listen to music and join in on the fun during most evenings in season. (Translation: Get ready to dance.) During the day, Coligny Beach attracts lots of beachgoers because of its many nearby amenities and easy access. Know that Hilton Head’s beaches are public, however, access to them is not always very feasible. Here’s a beach that’s worth making an effort for though:Driessen Beach Park. You’ll need to take a long walk to it from the parking lot but the end result is that of a wide sandy beach without the crowds.
Speaking of bikes, Hilton Head Bicycle Company can outfit you for rentals or hook you up with a nice sale. Their selection is as vast as the types of shells on the beach here (well, almost), so don’t just think that any kind of an ordinary bike will do. Have you ever tried a beach bike? Give it a whirl–this is the place to do it. Outside Hilton Head stands out as another great place for bike rentals. They rent all kinds of accessories for facilitating fun in fact, including pontoon boats, surf and boogie boards, paddle boards and kayaks, hobies and even beach chairs and umbrellas. Outside Hilton Head also organizes a variety of tours such as charter fishing and beach combing excursions. Just call them activity central.
Whether you hit the beach on a bike or by foot, do go because Hilton Head’s more-than twelve miles of beaches represent some of the most pristine swaths of sand in the U.S. Plus, the water and air temperatures here most of the year provide some of the best playing-in-the-surf conditions around. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
In addition to being one of the top-rated bicycling destinations in the country, Hilton Head reigns supreme with horseback riding. Book a trail ride with Lawton Stables where you can take in the natural beauty of not only the horses but also that of the scenic Sea Pines Forest Preserve, also located within the Sea Pines Plantation.
The scenic land and seascapes of Hilton Head and the surrounding area may be appreciated from a host of sites including Pinckney Island National Refugee and the Coastal Discovery Museum. You’ll discover that the area is flush with all kinds of flora and fauna, most especially birds and sea turtles. In addition to their network of nature trails, the Coastal Discovery Museum, offers a variety of programs and tours to help you learn about and experience Hilton Head’s unique ecosystem. Sea Turtle Getaways also organizes Hilton Head Eco Tours that help to inform you about the island’s protected wetlands, marshes, dunes and beaches as well as their renowned Loggerhead turtle population. Imagine a sunset tour in search of a Loggerhead nest! This is best done with the experts because you certainly don’t want to disturb our armor-plated friends. (That also goes for the gators–yikes!)
Know that a variety of other excursions, including dolphin tours, are available in the area, so be prepared to be awed.
Farmers’ Markets in the South are among the best around:The produce, fish and seafood are particularly noteworthy and the scene is always vibrant (perhaps due to the weather). The Thursday afternoon Farmers’ Market in historic Old Town Bluffton rates high, which is also perhaps why this event has turned out to be such a fun gathering place for visitors and locals alike.
If you’re looking for a different type of shopping–let’s say for designer shoes or classy island attire, head either to the Tanger Outlets or Hilton Head Village Shopping Center, both in Bluffton. There you can find all kinds of outdoor and indoor fun.