There aren’t many undiscovered seaside retreats where the sand is as white as a dove and the water clearer than a diamond, but in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, one such gem remains. Located 20 miles northeast of Savannah, Hilton Head Island boasts over 12 miles of unspoiled beaches and ocean that remains warm throughout June, July and August. Despite its size, the island hosts a wealth of artistic and cultural attractions, as well as a busy events calendar. Unsurprisingly, many celebrities use the island as a summer retreat, sharing their corner of paradise with an abundance of wildlife that includes turtles, dolphins and manatees. Alligators are also resident on the island, as are deer and egrets.
Without a doubt, Hilton Head Island is a spot for the summer, with the season kicking-off in May and lasting until Labor Day Weekend in early September. The first major event in the calendar is the Rib Burnoff & Barbecue Fest in mid-May when the local culinary talent competes to be the best in the business, all flanked by live music and kids’ events. Tickets can be purchased in advance, with all proceeds going to charity. The season’s longest running attraction is the annual HarborFest, held every Tuesday night from June to August at Shelter Cove Marina. Here, visitors will find all manner of arts and crafts, as well as live entertainment, and fireworks at sunset. The festival also opens for a special celebration on July 4, something not to be missed when holidaying in the USA!
If visiting out of season, check-out November’s Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance, featuring classic cars, wooden boats and beach mobiles, or come in December to experience the cosy seasonal event, Dove Street Festival of Lights. Over 50 houses on Dove St. decorate their properties with holiday lights, while singers serenade visitors with carols and Christmas songs. Again, all proceeds are given to charity. Finally, there is a wealth of historical heritage on the island, ranging from Native American times, through to the Civil War.
The island is easily accessible by car, but parking might prove tricky despite free weekend parking and the large lot at Coligny Circle. Arguably, the best option is to hire a bicycle as the island is covered in bike lanes, and is more bike-friendly than car-friendly. Alternatively, hop on the Hilton Head Island Trolley Tour which takes in all the various nooks and crannies.