Ready for a weekend beach getaway at one of the absolute best places to travel? Then you NEED to head to Hilton Head Beach, South Carolina, right now!
Hilton Head Island, or HHI as most locals and regulars refer to it, is one of South Carolina’s best beaches offering wide beaches, golf, great restaurants, and fun for the whole family.
In this resource guide, we give you the best hotels to stay, activities to do, and a lot of insider tips so you can make the most out of your stay at Hilton Head Beach!
Does Hilton Head Have Good Beaches?
Hilton Head Island is one of the best beaches in the USA, but don’t just take my word for it. Check out all the amazing travel awards HHI has received.
Hilton Head Island Voted “#1 Island in the Continental U.S.” for the fourth consecutive year in Travel+Leisure Magazine’s 2019 World’s Best AwardsHilton Head Island, South Carolina
Ranked the #2 Best Beach on Southern Living Magazine Best Beach Towns of 2020Southern Living Magazine
“Top 20 Resorts in The South” by Readers of Condé Nast Traveler. Reader’s Choice Awards.Conde Naste Traveler
That’s just scratching the surface. Trust me, you will LOVE Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Now, let me tell you why!
Hilton Head Weekend Getaways
We have been taking romantic weekends and last-minute Hilton Head beach getaways for more than ten years. Hilton Head getaways, first and foremost, mean BEACH.
All the beaches on Hilton Head Island are beautiful, but we certainly have one that we consider to be the best beach on Hilton Head Island.
Port Royal Hilton Head
Port Royal Hilton Head is the northern section of Hilton Head Island and is home to two of our favorite resorts:
The beach at Port Royal is wide and pristine. The surrounding walkways and bike trails are beautiful and lush. You won’t be disappointed if you choose the Port Royal section of Hilton Head Island.
Palmetto Dunes Hilton Head
Palmetto Dunes beach area is accessed through the Palmetto Dunes Resort Plantation located in the island’s center. The beach can be utilized by guests staying in the plantations’ houses or beach resorts.
Palmetto Dunes is by far one of our favorite sections to visit on Hilton Head Island. Accommodations in Palmetto Dunes include:
Condo rentals and private home rentals are also available on Hilton Head Island.
It’s a close tie for us between the beach at Port Royal and the beach at Palmetto Dunes as to which is the best beach on Hilton Head Island.
You will have to check them both out and let us know what you think.
Sea Pines Hilton Head Island
The Sea Pines and Harbor Town section of Hilton Head Island is also a popular option on Hilton Head Island.
If golfing or boating is on your list for Hilton Head, staying in the Sea Pines Resort may be just what you need.
Harbor Town Marina, located within Sea Pines, is home to the Hilton Head’s iconic red and white striped lighthouse, plenty of specialty shops, and restaurants.
We often enjoy an evening of dinner and stroll the marina gazing at all the beautiful sailboats and yachts in the harbor.
Sea Pines is not directly located on the beach, but beach access is available.
Hilton Head Island Public Beach Access
There are several popular public beach parks as well on Hilton Head Island. Here are a few you may want to check out or ride your bike to explore.
- Coligny Beach Park
- Driessen Beach Park
- Fish Haul Beach Park
- Folly Field Beach Park
- Burkes Beach
- Islanders Beach Park
- Shipyard Beach Access
Hilton Head Island Beach Resorts
Hilton Head Island accommodations consist of a combination of major beach resorts, Hotel chains, Condos, and Golf and Beachfront homes.
Westin Hilton Head Island
Westin Hilton Head Island is our go-to favorite hotel on Hilton Head Island and is the hotel that swayed us to become very loyal Starwood Members (SPG Preferred) even before Marriott purchased the chain and enlarged our hotel portfolio.
Marriott Barony Bay Hilton Head Island
Marriott Barony Bay is such a great resort. Our family stayed here in February and enjoyed the space to spread out the grounds, pools, and amenities.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head is located in the Shipley Ferry Plantation on Hilton Head Island. This isn’t our preferred area of HHI, but it is still quite charming.
There are plenty of restaurants nearby, and the resort amenities are plentiful.
Packing List For Hilton Head Island
What you pack for Hilton Head Island will, in large part, be determined by what time of year you are visiting. For every trip, we always like to go minimalist.
Here are a few things to toss in the backpack for Hilton Head.
- High SPF Sunscreen: I admit, I am not the best at this, but with kids and lots of allergies, we found that Badger Brand sunscreen is the only sunscreen the entire family can use and we love it.
- Adorable sun hats for the kids: We love these cute hats for kids by Bienvenu
- Mom needs a new hat too: I do love to get a new hat for the beach and bike riding.
- Sunglasses: Being married to an eye doctor, I can’t forget this one. Contact us and mention this article for a discount on a new pair of suns for your trip.
- Swimsuits: Never leave home without this important item!!
- Reading material- Before kids, I enjoyed reading on the beach. This past time is harder to come by, but you never know. Why not enjoy a mystery set on the island!!
- Your favorite camera– Here’s the one we love for our travels.
Hilton Head Island Things To Do
We often visit Hilton Head Island beaches in the Spring, so the winds can be high, however, the temperatures can also be as high as 80° in February.
It is best to check the current weather before heading to any South Carolina beach in the Spring and plan accordingly.
While it is rarely warm enough to swim in the ocean during the spring, we enjoy swimming in heated outdoor and indoor pools, so packing a swimsuit is usually a great idea.
Hilton Head Island offers so much more than just the beach, however, so don’t let the weather deter you from a beach getaway to HHI in the Spring.
Some of our favorite activities at Hilton Head Island in the spring:
- Shopping and eating at Shelter Cove Towne Centre
- Strolling on the beach
- Visiting Pinckney National Refuge Area
- Dining at one of our favorite Hilton Head Restaurants
READ MY Full Review of Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge Area at Travel Inspired Living!
Best Bike Rental Hilton Head
Hilton Head Island boasts over 60 miles of public pathways and trails for cyclists.
Biking on Hilton Head Island is our absolute favorite activity (besides eating the great food, of course). Because Hilton Head is so friendly to bicyclists, it’s super easy to rent a bicycle for the duration of your visit.
Our favorite bike rental location on Hilton Head is The Bike Doctor HHI. Their rates are always fantastic when we are in town, and their service is even better.
We simply call them on the phone, tell them where we are staying, give them our credit cards, and that’s it. They deliver the bikes to our hotel, leave the receipt at the front desk, and come back in three days to pick up the bikes.
They often give you a little extra time on your checkout day as well.
The bikes come equipped with a lock and a basket so you can do a little shopping and eat while riding around the island.
We recently enjoyed a South Carolina beach getaway to Hilton Head with our kids for a three-day weekend.
After many years of not being able to bike with our kids because someone was too small, we were thrilled to be able to get tandem bikes for our younger kids and a bike for our older son.
We had a great time biking around Hilton Head Island. While it’s bittersweet to see our kids get older, the joys of getting them excited to go outside and experiencing outdoor adventures with them make up for the loss of those baby moments.
Speaking of getting older and learning to ride bikes, here are some articles to help you find the best cruiser bike for yourself and how to choose the best kid’s bike.
Best Hilton Head Restaurants
Some of the best food in the low country is found on Hilton Head Island!
Next to my favorite dining in Charleston, SC, I have not eaten better food than I have on Hilton Head Island, even in Disney World. (Disney fans don’t throw things, please.)
Skull Creek Boathouse Hilton Head, South Carolina
As soon as our bikes arrive at our hotel, we often hop aboard our bikes and head straight to our favorite restaurant to eat the best seafood in Hilton Head at The Skull Creek Boathouse Hilton Head.
Sometimes you may hear people refer to it as just “The Boathouse” because it is located directly behind HH Boathouse, a large boat storage house located on Squire Pope road in Hilton Head.
It’s fun to see all these massive boats in storage as you walk to Skull Creek from your car.
Be warned, however, this is no secret place. It’s a hopping location and if you don’t want a long wait, go early, like before 5 pm. If you can’t make it that early, pick a bar seat and enjoy.
If you are a fan of ceviche or sushi, there is no fresher and better-tasting on the island, in our opinion. If traditional seafood is more your style, they have a bit of everything. The quality is top-notch.
It seems to be a little-known fact that the Sushi bar serves the full menu, and hubby and I have been seated right away there while others waited thirty minutes or more for a table.
Besides, you can enjoy good food and entertainment while looking at Lobster and Octopus. What more could a girl want?
The Watusi Restaurant Hilton Head
For breakfast in Hilton Head, we recommend The Watusi Cafe. We also recommend sitting at the bar for breakfast.
This place is also hopping, but the bar is the most entertaining and usually available.
We were able to chat it up one morning with the manager, who shared with us the story behind the name Watusi.
Her sister owns the restaurant, and when they were children, they used to dance and sing along on vacation at the beach or wherever, and they would often remark that they were “Doing the Watusi”.
They weren’t doing the “Watusi,” but that phrase became associated with fun and family time for their family, so the restaurant name is a family inside story.
It’s stories like this that keep my heart in love with travel and, most especially, with the little mom-and-pop restaurants and businesses that make up this country. Don’t worry, I’m not running for political office. I just really love getting to hear stories like that.
Charbar Hilton Head
A newer restaurant we have discovered but have added to our list of “must-do restaurants in Hilton Head” is The Charbar.
If burgers, brews, and bands are your thing, then definitely take the time to check out The Charbar.
We had an amazing burger and enjoyed some live music. It’s very low-key and casual, so it’s a great place to go as a couple or with the kids.
Shelter Cove Marina Restaurants
In the Shelter Cove area, the dining options are numerous. We enjoy dining bot at the Shelter Cove Harbor and Marina as well as in the newer Shelter Cove Shopping district.
Here are just a few of our favorites.
For a romantic dinner on the marina, try Ela’s on the Water They have a large wine selection, and the food was superb.
Aside from the fantastic food, the view is spectacular. Perfect for a romantic evening with your significant other.
If you are looking for a quick breakfast pastry while strolling the marina, try out The Hilton Head Social Bakery
In the newer shopping district, we also enjoyed shrimp tacos at Poseidon’s.
More Favorite Restaurants In Hilton Head Beach
The dining options on Hilton Head Island are endless, but here are just a few more of our favorites.
Hilton Head Ice Cream Shop
Easy to remember.
I am an allergy mom, so I always ask about their processes, and I was excited to learn that they take great effort not to cross-contaminate their very delicious handmade ice cream flavors, including washing equipment and keeping dedicated scoops for peanut and tree nut allergic patrons.
This place was so cute! I can’t wait to take my kids there. Lego designs, a fish aquarium, kid-friendly murals, and eclectic collections of cookie jars and toys.
Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks
Also, another family favorite for its great water views and allergy-friendly policies.
The service is always top notch, and ensures my kids can safely eat their delicious seafood.
Seagrass Grill is our final recommendation for another great romantic option.
It’s very intimate, and the steaks and seafood are fresh and tasty.
Whether you are looking for a family beach getaway to a South Carolina beach or a romantic weekend retreat, Hilton Head Island is perfect.
We enjoy spring beach getaways to Hilton Head Island for the wide beautiful beaches, the fun activities like biking and shopping, and especially all the fabulous low country food on Hilton Head.
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If you liked this post, you should check out these RV campgrounds near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, if looking for a cheap alternative for that HHI getaway.
Also, here are some basic photography techniques from PhotoJeepers so you can take your photography skills to the next level on your vacation.
Cath - BattleMum
Thursday 23rd of August 2018
This area of South Carolina sounds like a great place for a family getaway. There certainly seems to be lots to see, do and eat there .Thanks for linking up to #wanderlustkids
Harmony, Momma To Go
Saturday 2nd of June 2018
I havent been to Hilton Head in such a long time, like almost 20 years! I think this is a great shoulder season destination - one we should consider for fall or spring travel! I like to golf, and there are so many courses there!