Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Travel Guide

Come to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, for a warm, sunny vacation by the Atlantic Ocean. People flock from all over to enjoy Hilton Head Island's beaches, and Hilton Head Island vacations are popular for good reason! You can soak up plenty of sun (and relax knowing that you're visiting one of the most eco-friendly beach communities around!), immerse yourself in the rich culture and history or check out the natural ecosystem for yourself. Come during the peak of summer and you'll face crowds, but with a place as friendly and welcoming as Hilton Head Island, we think you'll agree it's worth it. So why not consider booking one of our Hilton Head Island vacation rentals and taking a warm beach getaway this summer?

What to Do on Hilton Head Island Vacations

Hilton Head Island GolfObviously, the Hilton Head Island beach is a huge draw, with swimming, sunning, shelling and everything else you look forward to when you take a beach vacation. Rent a Hilton Head Island beachfront condo and you'll be steps away from fun in the sun, whether you play in the tide with the kids or lounge around in the sun. But there's so much else to do beyond just the beach! Hilton Head Island's cultural offerings are amazing, so you can catch a performance by the Hilton Head Choral Society, check out an almost Broadway-like show at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, listen to symphony concerts by the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, or participate in a whole ton of parades, cook-offs and festivals throughout the year.

On and off the water, enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, tennis and dolphin watching tours. Hilton Head golf is another major appeal of the area (there's a stop on the PGA Tour here). If you'd like to take advantage of Hilton Head Island golfing, check out the George Fazio Golf Course (the only par-70 course on Hilton Head Island), Arthur Hills Golf Course (ranked 4.5 by Fodor's Golf Digest), and Robert Trent Jones Course (voted best in the region by Golf Week).

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What to See on your Hilton Head Island Vacation

Don't miss sight-seeing around Harbor Town, where you'll catch sight of some impressive multi-million-dollar yachts at sea. If you'd rather enjoy the riches yourself, visit Shelter Cove, the deepest marina on the island and home to such summer festivities as live concerts and fireworks.

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Hilton Head Island Dining and Shopping

Hilton Head Island is really not a shopping destination, although you'll find a range of art galleries, homemade candy shops and locally-owned boutiques scattered around the island. Factory outlets like the Hilton Head Factory Stores I and II give bargain-hunters a few good options too.
Hilton Head dining, on the other hand, is a completely different story. You'll find the island positively swimming with excellent Hilton Head Island restaurants.

However, since Hilton Head Island vacations are so popular and the island gets very crowded during peak season, you may want to sniff around for smaller, less-known local restaurants. If you want to avoid crowds altogether, rent a Hilton Head Island vacation home with a full kitchen and cook some of your meals at home!

Here are a few of our favorite places to eat on Hilton Head Island:

  • Kingfisher Seafood and Steakhouse – A terrific bargain on high-quality upscale food, Kingfisher serves gigantic portions at extremely affordable prices with fifteen options under $15. Don't miss out on daily recommendations, especially the day's local catch. If you want to spoil yourself, try the Kingfisher Salmon, stuffed with spinach, bacon and lobster cream sauce. For the tykes, there's a kids menu, too.
  • Sunrise Café – This cozy café is considered the best place for breakfast on the entire island. From 6 am to 3 pm, stop by Sunrise for island seafood mixed with mainland breakfasts that will please everybody in your family. Try eggs benedict with salmon or shrimp, or sautéed shrimp and peppers with hash browns. The less adventurous will be equally satisfied with regular scrambled egg burritos, biscuits and gravy, and other common favorites.
  • Jump and Phil's – Locals prefer this bar and grill, a classic place with a friendly pub atmosphere. We recommend the burgers, but all the food is reliably good, and you'll have plenty of great drinks to choose from too. A good low-key option!

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When to Visit / Hilton Head Island Weather

Many, many people take Hilton Head Island vacations in summer, so if you come during peak season, expect to deal with crowds. That's not to say the island is unpleasant then, so if you can't come any other time, you'll enjoy your vacation. But Hilton Head weather is pleasant for most of the year, so if you come a little off-season, you may wind up with more space to breathe but still have great weather for enjoying the beach. No matter when you come, you'll find plenty of Hilton Head Island vacation rentals to choose from, but you may be able to score some unbelievably good deals if you rent during off-season.

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What to Know About Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island's rich cultural history includes the Gullahs, people descended from former slaves who have kept much of their African language and culture. If you're lucky, you can catch Gullah performances at the Arts Center, or time your visit to coincide with the annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration.

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What to Bring

Come fully prepared to enjoy the Hilton Head Island beach. That means no skimping on sunscreen and other sun protection, like hats and sunglasses! Bring your camera, too, because you'll want to capture permanent memories of your visit and all the amazing wildlife you see, like loggerhead sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins. If you're staying in Hilton Head Island beach rentals, you may find that the owner of your home has provided beach toys for the kids, too. It never hurts to ask what perks you can look forward to.

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Hilton Head Island Local Services

Hilton Head Island caters to tourists, so you'll find everything you need to make your Hilton Head Island vacation comfortable. If you're staying in Hilton Head Island vacation cottages or condos, local services will be happy to fill your pantry or decorate the home before you arrive. Also, since so many people want to go boating or kayaking on their Hilton Head Island vacations, many services offer gear rental, too.

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Getting There: Travel to Hilton Head Island

If you can catch a small airline's flight directly to Hilton Head Island Airport, that's the most direct route, but this smaller airport doesn't service all major airlines. Otherwise, fly into Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport about an hour away and either catch a shuttle, book a cab or rent a car for the rest of the way.

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Why Choose Hilton Head Island Vacation Rentals?

With so much Hilton Head Island lodging to choose from, it may be tempting to go with a hotel or motel – but Hilton Head Island vacation rentals, though they may be a little less obvious, are cheaper, more convenient and have way more perks. Hilton Head Island rental homes are actual homes people could live in, so you'll find cozy furnishings and convenient floorplans that include everything you need for a comfortable stay. Save money cooking your own meals in your Hilton Head Island rental condo's full kitchen, then stretch out in the spacious private bedrooms. No matter how you look at it, Hilton Head Island vacation rentals truly are the best option you have. Just take a look at all the Hilton Head rental homes and condos listed on Vacation Rentals.com and you'll see for yourself just how beautiful, luxurious and affordable they are.

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