If there’s a place, other than the Outer Banks that beckons to northerners seeking rest, it’s Hilton Head, SC. Maybe it’s the beach, maybe it’s seeing dolphins from those beaches or maybe it’s just the temperate climate and soft sands. But whatever the draw, this was a must see for me, so we packed our bags to headed south for a few days.
Our first stop was Coligny Beach. It was a beautiful day – no I mean a great day – with the temperature nearing 80 degrees. With our swimsuits on, we headed straight for the beach. There were a lot more people at the beach than we expected, but I have a feeling it was the last hurrah for many Yankees heading back north for Thanksgiving. At this beach low tide, combined with a divot near the shoreline, causes the beach to separate strangely in two. We started in the sand nearest the water and within the two hours, we had to move our towels four times, and ultimately had to cross the moat back to the high tide marker before we left. While lying on the beach, we saw several dolphins bobbing in the water but they were pretty far out, and without our zoom lens, we were at a disadvantage.
The next stop was Sea Pines, a large resort encompassing over a third of the island. It’s like visiting a gated community as we were required to pay $5 to access this section of the atoll. There were massive homes, shops, the famous Hilton Head lighthouse and restaurants. We were told this was the premier portion of the island, though we could’ve done without the premier prices and $8 beers. We went to the dock near the lighthouse to watch the boats roll in and out and catch a sunset. Though the sunset is the draw, the brown pelicans, seagulls and family of Atlantic dolphins bobbing in the sea near us just framed the picture that much more perfectly.
We enjoyed our day, but felt that the island lacked a bit of substance, being more geographically-blessed than well-planned. As newbies, we had trouble finding our way. The signs are few and far between and we found little help from the less than courteous tourism employee at the “welcome” center. And sadly, there seems to be very little beach parking – which has to be a problem in the summer, but perhaps this is solved by the extensive bike trails that many families use to get around the island.
But, maybe we’ve been jaded by other places we’ve visited. This is really a great vacation spot, just not a place I’d want to be in the prime season. For more information.